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Contract Wording

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Mark AllenContract Wording
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 1:12:37 pm

Hello,

Great Forum. I am entering a contract with an out of town firm. I will be shooting a conference and shipping the tapes to this company site unseen. As they will not be at the shoot. I have not worked with this company before but they seem legit. However, we have all heard that before. I was wondering what wording should I put in the contract to protect myself from getting stiffed?

Would the wording be: (Name of my company) retains the rights to all video taped material until said material is paid for. Can anyone help me with the wording.

Thanks


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Craig SeemanRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 2:01:27 pm

[Mark Allen] "Would the wording be: (Name of my company) retains the rights to all video taped material until said material is paid for. Can anyone help me with the wording. "

Be careful. Is material the media (tape) or the entire production? IANAL but the wording should be CLEAR should it have to be used in the legal process.
Important to detail payment terms as well. For out of town work I'd require full payment for transfer of master and rights. You can certainly provide a window dub or other watermark beforehand but I discourage the potential, "we want to see and like it before we pay" mentality.





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grinner hesterRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 2:13:29 pm

They don't own it until they pay for it with or without a contract.
I'd focus more on getting half down.
As far as verbage, you can download templated contracts and insert company names and dates easy enough. If you have a lawyer, he'll do this for you for next to nuthin' and you won't have to worry.



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Trey GregoryRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 2:25:36 pm

When working with new client, particularly out-of-town clients, you have to protect yourself first

I would definitely get at LEAST half before you shoot. And I wouldn't deliver the finals until you get full payment.

For contract wording: we always stipulate that the masters will be delivered when the client's balance is paid in full.

Some people will tell you that you are holding the footage for ransom, but you're not a bank, and it's not your job to extend credit to a client who can't cut you a check when you need it.

Good luck!

Trey Gregory
ECG Productions - Atlanta
HD Production and Post
http://www.ecgprod.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 2:43:18 pm

Paid in advance, at least partially. Send a window dub first and wait for the check to clear before sending the clean master footage. Or ask them to use PayPal and get paid that much faster. Also, keep a clone of the footage as insurance against the first one getting lost.


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David Roth WeissRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 3:30:56 pm

[grinner hester] "If you have a lawyer, he'll do this for you for next to nuthin' and you won't have to worry. "

Grinner,

I've never seen a lawyer do anything for next for next to nuthin', and honestly, there's no reason to be giving away "points" off of your income hard earned paychecks to attorneys unless there's big money or complicated legalese required. Stating something such as "Our work product will be delivered upon our receipt of payment in full" is not open to interpretation and does not require a hired gun.

David

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Mark AllenRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 2:14:27 am

Thanks everyone for all of the advice. I received a contract from them today that they want me to sign and fax back. Their verbage states that I will be paid by check upon successful completion and review of the tapes.

I am sending them a contract back for them to sign that agrees to their terms, however, all rights to said footage remains the rights of my production company until I receive payment in full. After the check clears, all rights to the footage transfers to them.

Does this sound alright? I know I am running a risk of not getting paid once I deliver the tapes. However, I can always threaten copyright infringement if they use said footage in a production without paying. At least this is some leverage.

It is not a huge contract, but I am looking for some protection.

Thanks again, Mark


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cowcowcowcowcow
Arnie SchlisselRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 3:52:13 am

You should insist on a 50% deposit before the shoot. No deposit, you don't show up. This is common in many industries, not just video and film production.

Anyone who balks at a reasonable deposit is probably going to find some "fatal" flaw in your footage, claim that it's unusable, and not care that you inserted a rights clause to prevent their use.

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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Bill DavisRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 3:56:33 am

Mark,

Actually, that's hardly any leverage at all. What you're hearing from everyone is that the ONLY leverage you have in this type of situation is NOT to deliver the masters until their account is paid in full.

There's NOTHING wrong with working this way for an out of state client you don't know well. Even if they have the BEST intentions, lots of stuff that's none of your business can get in the way of those intentions. Whether it's temporary cash flow issues, uncertain financing, THEIR bad clients not paying in a timely fashion - there are just LOTS of reasons they might want to defer your payment for weeks or even months.

And if you've delivered the work, there's simply nothing practical you can do about this situation.

Listen to what everyone's saying. If they need proof of performance, deliver blatantly WATERMARKED DVDs. But cash up front is totally FAIR for any new client that you don't already have a long established relationship with - and none of the responsible clients will even BLINK at this.

If they claim the need for a fast turnaround, by all means use Pay Pal or figure out a way to take a credit card and assure them you'll happily send everything the SECOND the funds clear.

Good luck.



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Craig SeemanRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 4:33:43 am

[Mark Allen] "Their verbage states that I will be paid by check upon successful completion and review of the tapes. "

Sounds like working on spec and in addition they can change their mind after sending the check and stop payment on that too. This is even more dangerous since it's just production and no post. All sorts of reasons they can decide not to pay even if your work is great.

If they've seen your reel then they either trust your aesthetic and skills or not.

You work, you get paid. If they don't like your work then they don't hire you again.

If you must, you can work with 50% (or 2/3 . . . similar to a typical half day rate) non refundable payment to hold the day.
They get copy with watermark in or near the center they can't crop out. They must pay the balance and it must clear before you send a clean copy.







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Mike SmithRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 9:09:32 am

Verbiage here means contract terms - what a court would probably enforce, if you were unlucky enough to come to that.

Those are not good terms for you.

If the customer wants to monitor and control your performance, s/he can send a person to do that alongside you. If they want to review the tapes before deciding whether to pay you, then you are working on the chance of payment.

Your chances of successfully and economically enforcing a copyright infringement claim look slim - how will you know they've used your footage? And unless you have lawyers in the family (and maybe then) you will be finding plenty of money up front to try to enforce a claim - assuming that your client has any assets to meet the claim from.



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Bob ColeRe: Contract Wording
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 5:04:18 pm

You're smart to think about this in advance. If you're getting bad vibes, there's a reason. It's totally reasonable for a first-time, out-of-state client, to require payment in full before tapes are released.

Signed,

Been there (with an out-of-state firm), didn't get paid for that. (Ever. Still rankles!)


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