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A gasket already blown

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Greg Ball
A gasket already blown
on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:39:44 pm

I was selected by a First Time out-of-state client to shoot and edit several videos for them to be shot locally. They are on the other side of the U.S. I sent them our generic terms and agreement paper and asked that they sign it and send it back along with their deposit as specified in the agreement.

They asked if we could add a sentence or two about who owns the rights and permissions to all of the footage shot. They suggested they write it and I could incorporate it into the contract. I agreed to have the send be a blurb.

I received a 25 PAGE document (agreement) from them, written by their legal team, which included everything from timeframes for when the project must be completed and when I would be paid (thirty days after they receive the final video), cancellation terms, termination rights, and even DRUG SCREENING rights that they could enforce. It went on and on, basically protecting them and leaving my company open to problems. I always require payment in full before I release the edited video.

They even stated that the the contract was enforceable in THEIR state. Meaning that if there was a law suit, or court case, it would need to be resolved across the country. My contract has it enforced in OUR state.

I've had clients question parts of our contract before, or ask if we could revise something, and I've done so when necessary, but I've never had a client send me a new contract on THEIR letterhead, initiated by THEIR company, telling me to sign it in 4 places. I even suggested that I would sign a confidentialty statement on their letterhead, but the contract had to come from my company.

They also had a list of 25 companies that we couldn't work with.

Of course, I told them I couldn't sign that, and they send me a shorter version, which still was not acceptable. Today they pulled the plug and said their legal department cannot budge on the contract, so they need to move forward with another production company.

I work with major corporations on a regular basis, and never had this problem before. I'm irritated to say the least. Thanks for letting me vent!

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Todd Terry
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:54:02 pm

Let 'em go. And be glad you got out while you could.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Steve Wargo
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:03:52 pm

Good move on your part. No way that would have worked in your direction.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

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John Davidson
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:14:04 pm

Jesus! Who puts a black list in a contract? Sounds like a list of 25 people to call who will cheer you up about it not working out.

Magic Feather Inc.

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Nick Griffin
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:24:13 pm

I had a similar situation with a Fortune 50 company in a nearby state a few years ago. Can't say the name but it rhymes with Screw-Pont.

They presented me with a 35 page letter of agreement which specified everything from how much auto insurance we had to carry to us agreeing that they could pop in anytime they wanted, without notice, to audit our books.

Even if I was willing to allow such ridiculous requirements to stay in the agreement the real problem came down to them dictating our hourly rates. "This is the standard agreement we have with everyone supplying us this service and we never pay anymore than this hourly rate," stated their purchasing manager.

To which I said, "But the other people you've been using typically have ten people doing what we can do with two and ten times the rate is far more money than the two of us charge."

"Doesn't matter," she said, "We never pay anymore than this hourly rate."

The manager who had brought me into the project pulled me aside and said, "Agree to the rate and just say that everything took twice as long." I refused his suggestion.

There's an old statement to the effect that it's easier to be honest with people and make a habit of telling the truth because you have a whole lot less to remember.

The last conversation I had with them was to say that we would not be able to agree to their terms and that I wished them luck. In the long run I believe I saved myself a few gaskets.

The humor came a year later when I learned that one member of the creative team they had hired was a cultural anthropologist -- brought in to make sure that the materials they were producing were relevant to the audience. The Schadenfreude (German for taking pleasure in someone else's discomfort -- wouldn't you know that it would take the Germans to have a word for this?) came a year later when the group who had won the account went out of business.

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Mark Suszko
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:28:27 pm

When you get one of these "Monkey's Paw" things, often the best thing you can do is refer them to your worst rival.

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Gav Bott
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 27, 2009 at 12:04:40 am

"so they need to move forward with another production company."

Bullet dodged.

I’ve had the same as a freelancer. Odd clauses that I wouldn’t agree to (because I wanted to continue working usually). The company’s “legal team” can’t budge, we part ways – then the stories of horror and desperation filter back from the unfortunate that took the risk.

The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.

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Brendan Coots
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 27, 2009 at 3:51:52 am

Screw 'em, I wouldn't give it a second thought. At least they let you know up-front what kind of client they would have been.

Every time studios let a client get away with something like this, they are irreparably harming the industry as a whole.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Mike Smith
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 27, 2009 at 9:17:27 am

I had it over here in the UK from a local government agency.

22 pages including many clauses quite out of the credible.

These included one giving them the right to require "the entire service [production of a 15-minute training video, with actors] be re-performed free of charge, at their sole discretion, any time within eighteen months of completion".

This beautiful set of terms came after invitation to tender, offer of services (from me), their acceptance, and a month's work.

When I pointed out that they could not put additional terms into our contract without my consent, I was told to "consider them hidden terms".

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John Baumchen
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 27, 2009 at 10:13:06 pm

"hidden terms"?

Easy, just triple the price and tell them it's part of the hidden terms.

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David Ghast
Re: A gasket already blown
on Feb 28, 2009 at 2:18:18 am

Drugs screening terms?!!! Corporate fascism as its finest.

Sounds like a contract written by the dark lord himself. Did they require you sign it with the blood of an orphan?

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Matt Gottshalk
Re: A gasket already blown
on Mar 2, 2009 at 2:41:13 am

Damn, "grinders" doesn't even to BEGIN describing these kind of clients.


McGee Digital Media Inc.
24P HD Production and Post

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