Working With a Vendor?
A couple questions on working with other companies. I run a small video business. I recently met up with a gentleman who can do some high end work I'm currently getting up to speed with this new technology but not there yet to offer it on my own. Therefore I'd like to hire him to do this work under my company name. He has the equipment I'm not in the position to buy at the moment. Basically I'll be taking the Producer's position on this - working with the client, gathering the right assets and all that fun stuff. I need him to just sit down and do the work.
1...What kind of contract would be needed in this situation? I'm sure he'd love to find the clients himself and go around me but I'm the guy hitting the pavement.
2...This work would be my product I offer to my clients. If he's paid what he wants..is this ethical to go to someone and say "I can get this done"...even If I not the guy doing the work. Make sense?
3...This guy has done some impressive work so far and I would love to use it to bring in potential clients. If he's OK with that...would this be ethical as well? Using work he's done on his own, under his company to foster new business?
4...Any other things I should be aware of when working in this situation?
It is vary similar to what a building contractor douse, he sub contracts so he douse not have to do everything.
[eric] "1...What kind of contract would be needed in this situation? I'm sure he'd love to find the clients himself and go around me but I'm the guy hitting the pavement. "
it would be similar to a contract between you and your client. Basically you become his client. He actually may want to find the clients himself. You bringing him work lets him devote more time to doing his thing, rather than trying to find clients. Also some people don't like hitting the pavement.
[eric] "2...This work would be my product I offer to my clients. If he's paid what he wants..is this ethical to go to someone and say "I can get this done"...even If I not the guy doing the work. Make sense? "
Yes it is ethical, why would it not be, it is done all the time, its called being the middle man. Like I said a building contractor douse not do all the work him self. He brings in a plumber to do the plumbing and a roofer to do the roof.
[eric] "3...This guy has done some impressive work so far and I would love to use it to bring in potential clients. If he's OK with that...would this be ethical as well? Using work he's done on his own, under his company to foster new business? "
If he is ok with it then it is not unethical. As long as you are not passing it off as your own work, but you clearly state that it is work you were the producer of.
You need a non-compete contract. See a contract lawyer and expect to pay $200 to $500 dollars.
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[eric] "1...What kind of contract would be needed in this situation? I'm sure he'd love to find the clients himself and go around me but I'm the guy hitting the pavement."
I've never signed a contract in this type of situation. For me it's like hiring a free-lancer. We never sign contracts, they come in on an As Need basis. If this will be a long term continuous thing, then you probably should sign some sort of non-compete that essentially says the vendor will not approach your clients to take work.
Keep in mind, however, if this vendor is front and center with the client all the time and is the "face" of your company with the client, there is nothing to preclude the client making a request directly to the vendor. Fortunately for me, the folks I've hired in situations like this always refer the client back to me.
[eric] "2...This work would be my product I offer to my clients. If he's paid what he wants..is this ethical to go to someone and say "I can get this done"...even If I not the guy doing the work. Make sense?"
Absolutely! This is how small production companies work. You need to surround yourself with the people who can do the work, and you have the confidence in their abilities, and then you sell those services. I can provide full Computer Based Training and Website Design through my company, though I don't actually perform the work. I can provide full field crews from 2 people to 300 but I don't perform the work.
Producers and Production companies sell my abilities to create Animations, High Def Post and Color Grading even though my company is the one doing the work. That's just the way it works in the business as a matter of course.
[eric] "3...This guy has done some impressive work so far and I would love to use it to bring in potential clients. If he's OK with that...would this be ethical as well? Using work he's done on his own, under his company to foster new business?"
Absolutely it's ethical, however, it should all be presented under your name, not his if you are selling this work as your company. My work does appear on other company demo reels for those companies that I decide to "partner" with. I have about 6 local companies and Producers that I'm essentially a "strategic partner" with and they have samples of my work on their demos or websites. My name does not appear anywhere as a company, however my name and bio are presented to show the quality of production people performing the actual work.
4...Any other things I should be aware of when working in this situation?"
Just due to the very nature of how video and film production works, almost always you're selling your clients on overall projects while the actual work may or may not be done directly by you or your company. You just have to have the confidence in this other company because ultimately is is your name on the project.
Also make sure you trust this person not to use you to steal clients. Did he come with referrals? Did you call these referrals to make sure he can perform the work adequately, that he handles himself well with clients, and that he respects that it's your company name in front and not his?
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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Great advice Walter. I would only add to the discussion by saying this:
- As you've seen here Eric, different people have different methods of working with sub-contractors. It's purely up to your own discretion. Personally, my shop uses subcontractor agreements the first time we work with a new contractor, just to make sure we're covered if they act the fool. This agreement includes a non-compete clause which is fairly loose, stating they cannot accept or pursue direct contact with the client outside of the bounds of doing their work. Basically it is worded to prevent them from pursuing contact with the client and soliciting their business WHILE they are working for us on the job. After that, we can't control what they do. In this industry you cannot reasonably except someone to sign a non-compete that bars them from working for your client, given how frequently clients shop around for new vendors. I once had a rookie Producer hire my studio to work on a large corporation's video. She insisted that we sign broad non-competes that barred us from working with or for the company in question for 5 (!!) years. When I informed her that, not only were we currently working on another project for the company but we had done about 3-5 projects in the past for them, she still insisted. We turned the work down. Six months later she is out of business and probably had a heck of a time getting anyone to work with her. I'm sure you get the point.
- It seems you are pretty concerned about ethics, which is definitely key to running a good business. But just remember, ethics, with regard to these topics, only come into play if you are ripping someone off. Using subcontractors and telling your clients you can do the work is NOT unethical unless you just end up doing work yourself that you are not qualified to do. In fact, you should probably find subcontractors to fill every void in the production chain that you personally cannot fulfill, and offer a wider array of services. Charge a modest markup on their services to cover your producing expenses and your business will be much better for it.
Great advice from everyone here. Another thing to consider is the fact that it's very easy to oversell your high-end guy's capability. If the work is good, your client will want more and will tell others about it. So, it's possible that the demand for your new mix of services will outrun your supply. Don't stop with the one vendor. Find a few others that can do the same level of work and spread the business around. This will keep everyone honest and if they know you are farming out the same kind of work to others, they'll work that much harder to produce a better product so that hopefully, you'll start to migrate more of the business to them.
A few points to ponder:
1. If your client(s) are used to high quality work, they'll expect it at that level every time. So, if the vendor flakes out and you can't deliver that quality anymore, you'll lose the business and potentially get the reputation as the guy who has to rely on other people to put out quality work. Having several vendors will alleviate this problem as you'll have several in your corner to keep those clients satisfied long term.
2. Demand source files from every vendor that produces work for you. If they work in After-Effects, demand all the files required to reconstruct the project if the client wants to make changes down the road. If the vendor won't do this, find another vendor. Even if you have no idea how to use the software program that they used to build your video, someone else will. You need to control all project files and master copies of everything after the projects are complete. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave that control with someone outside your business. Early in my video business, I managed to sell quite a few website design projects. I found a young, extremely talented and cheap designer to do ALL the work for me. I wrote the copy and put together the outline but he did the rest. I made a lot of money and he did pretty well also. The problem is that another website design company hired him away from me and he ran off with all my project files. Since I was competing with his new employer, he was ordered by them not to give me those files. This was terrible because my clients were irate when I couldn't revise their websites. So, since that experience, I NEVER let a vendor do any work for me unless I own and have copies of everything associated with building the project.
Kristopher G. Simmons
Video Business Coach
Thanks everyone for all the advice.
The work I'm talking about is HD DVD authoring/design. Very few people in the world know how to do this kind of coding (probably under 200 total worldwide) so I'm rather proud of the fact I'm hooked up with this guy. My expertise is SD DVD authoring which he knows nothing about and has given me alot of work lately...so it's a good fit.
I know he's very protective of his scripts. It's not something he's going to hand over to me just because I hire him for a job. Beside I wouldn't know what to do with them anyway until I'm up to speed myself. Also, like I said before, it would be almost impossible to find another person who freelances to do the coding. I guess I just have to be careful not over over extend myself and make sure he can do the work before a clients hops on board. :) However once a job is done in DVD, its done..unless the clients wants to pay for a new replication run.
[eric] "The work I'm talking about is HD DVD authoring/design. Very few people in the world know how to do this kind of coding (probably under 200 total worldwide) so I'm rather proud of the fact I'm hooked up with this guy."
Just FYI, it's a LOT simpler than you think. We're authoring Blu-Rays right now and the only thing we had to add to the mix was Adobe Encore to actually author the disc. We've been authoring SD-DVD's for clients for years and one particular client requested Blu-Ray. After investigating the process, we found the Blu-Ray burner for my Mac and the Adobe Encore Software. Apple's own Compressor creates the files and they're as clean as any commercial BluRay disc I've owned.
If you're already proficient in authoring SD-DVD's, then you're proficient in authoring HD-DVD's. You probably just need a different software and of course the burner.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.
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I wish it were that simple. :) Prosumer apps aren't suitable for my needs at this point. Were producing HD DVD (Advanced Content) titles (ie: pop-up menus, picture-in-picture, ect). Beside those tools don't output a usable image for replication at this point. Scenarist 4 is my only option if I want to offer this.
Here's a typical Schema for an HD DVD Playlist:
As you can see, its not easy or fast. Someday affordable tools will be available to do this work for you but until then I need to get my hands dirty a little.
Thanks for all the reply s.