Showing work from past employers
Many years since I have posted but I am a regular reader of this wonderful site!
I am a moderately long term professional, 10 plus years working full time as a Producer / DP & Editor. The last 5 years I have spent working with some great people and shooting and editing 100s.... and 100's of short form (1-6 minute) videos for them.
I have recently left the comfort of a paycheck every week and opened my own shop, not to compete with them but to work on some longer form stuff, documentaries, just do something different!... and I had talked with them about doing contract work for them so they could maintain the quality level and only use me when they needed that level of work. All well and good, "we support you 100%..." until after I was out the door, then I was asked to sign a non compete stating that I would not work with any client of theirs, past or present, AND that I would not work with any of their employees for up to two years AFTER they left this company... and if I did not sign, then I was the competition and was effectively on the other side of the table and basically shunned....WTF!!?? What they offered me in return was a meager amount of work that would amount to one small project if I sold it on my own... which I have, But NOT to any clients of theirs.
Sorry this is dragging on, wanted to give you some back story to my actual question... I have some of my work that I did for them (while on salary at their company) on vimeo, primarily up to this point to let friends and family see what I have been working on.... Now i am getting emails from my former employer that I am to remove all of these videos and I am not allowed to use them in any way, even though I clearly state my roll in each video, name the other peoples rolls,i.e. other Directors, and Editors when used AND I give the © notice and a web link to my former employer. So my question is, can he force me to remove these videos? I just want to show potential clients (NOT his clients),"hey, I shot this", or "I edited this"....I mean, the point is moot once I get a few projects under my belt under my companies name, and I NEVER misrepresent them as MY company that did these videos, just my personal part in these videos.... but, most potential clients want to see SOMETHING I have done or worked on....AND I dont mention or link to my company or its website from there.... I have already verbally told him that I would not go after any of his clients but he is really trying to bully me into signing..... which I have NOT
So... your thoughts? And what about just a DP reel of all my really good stuff? No actual "project" just a Director of Photography reel to let people see at least my shooting and editing skills? Can they legally keep me from doing that?
Man, I HATE that it has even come to this! But live and learn. BTW I never signed anything when I was hired 5 years ago....
Thanks for hanging in there and as always, Thanks for your advice!
Two thoughts. First, you r ex-employer has every right to ask you to sign a non compete. And you have every right not to. I see both sides, you either make a clean break and poach his clients, or you don't and respect his right to his client base.
As far as posting the video, you really do need permission from whoever OWNS the work. If the client who owns it gives you permission to post it, then your ex-employer has nothing he can do about it.
If your ex-employer owns it, you are screwed.
Dump them..completely. You obviously have a lot of potential since they feel so threatened.
I would edit a demo reel using whatever you want and privately send it to prospective clients.
I would sever all ties with your former employee. They will not be offering you much of anything in the future, even if you bend to their demands. Never EVER agree to anything that promises potential future business, it never happens once the ink is dry.
As for having your projects done under them up on the web, that is a little trickier. In one sense, if you have no agreement currently forbidding it, you could leave it up until they take legal action to demand it be taken down. They may not go through all that trouble.
They are asking you to erase entirely the past, and that is not fair for them to do. I would do what you want until they legally escalate it, just my opinion, I am not a lawyer. I only say that because from what little I know about the situation, they are not being fair.
My question is are THEY using your stuff to market to new clients? Would THEY sign an agreement that they use nothing you created? That could be your leverage.
It is great you are off on your own, but part of that is now playing hardball. I would not let these guys intimidate you, which it sounds like that is what they are doing.
Franklin McMahon / Host
Creative Cow Podcast Page /
Creative Cow Podcast in iTunes /
Legally it's likely that they can prevent you from showing their work in any kind of public way, ie. - online, mass mailing, etc. It's also likely that they may be willing to invest more in a lawyer's time to twist you around than you are to have another lawyer keep you un-twisted.
I don't know what they can do in the way of preventing you from showing examples of your work in a one-on-one situation. They probably can, but they would have to prove that you were doing it which would be more difficult. Have you considered producing a spec project all your own which you could use along with a list of the things that you worked on for this employer? I doubt they can prevent you from naming clients for whom you've worked on their behalf. Just be sure that you stay on the high road. It's better for both your image and long-term business karma.
You are wise to resist your former employers attempts to sign a non-compete after the fact. Keep not signing. And just in case it's not obvious by now, the chances of your former employer ever becoming more reasonable about any of this and giving you any work are somewhere between minuscule and NFW.
"And just in case it's not obvious by now, the chances of your former employer ever becoming more reasonable about any of this and giving you any work are somewhere between minuscule and NFW."
What a nicely crafted sentence. I enjoyed that.
Thank you all for your responses. I sincerely appreciate your input. You have confirmed what I had suspected and I guess I am OK with it. I mean, sometimes you have to live, learn and move on. I am doing 3 projects currently (one Pro bono for a non profit) and soon I will have plenty of my work that I OWN and then there will be no question.
Thanks again and i hope to get to know many of you over the next few months as I become more active in the Cow community. If you want to see my work you can go to http://www.vimeo.com/ifilmalaska/videos
.....but do it quick as I will most likely take it all down Monday if I cannot get permission to keep it up.
Well, now we can see why your ex-employer is worried. Your stuff is great! Put this dispute behind you and move on as quickly as you can.
Thanks Nick, and everyone that had good advice.... I have now removed all videos and will just move forward from here. Its all Good! BUT, I have thought that I might have a couple of "special" links (not embeds but just hyperlinks) to my work on his web site that will go directly to him, just explaining my roll on my page. Sound too weird?
Hey, anybody else headed for the North West Emmy Awards Banquet May 30th? Thinking about buying a table for 10.
Richard A. Cooper