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Seeking advice on getting paid

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Jon Speaks
Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 5:09:19 am

Hello all,

I am new to the video production business and I must start off by saying that without this site, and all of its valuable info, this business would be WAY over my head, versus the mere three feet it currently looms. Which brings me to my first blunder...

I got a job filming two small plays and committed to editing both, then delivering them on a single DVD. I told the client that I needed 50% up front and 50% upon delivery of the final product. But... I did not get a contract signed, it was only agreed upon through emails. I did this because I'm naive.

So, here I am now, trying to deliver the final product, and they have just informed me that as soon as they receive the DVD (and they only pay on receipt of final product) it will take 3 weeks to process the final check.

I emailed my second invoice on June 24th, so that they will have time to process everything ahead of time, and it is now July 9th.

The remaining balance is for $500 dollars. I need that $500 dollars. How can I go about getting it (while hopefully keeping things fair and positive)?

Please advise







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Steve Wargo
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 8:03:12 am

Welcome to the business.

1. Get paid 100% up front.
2. Be such a bad ass that they don't dare make you wait.
3. Take credit cards and get their card number at the agreement stage of the job.
4. repeat of number 2 above.

DO NOT give them the finished product without being paid first.

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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grinner hester
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:11:56 pm

Go collect in person with DVD in hand.



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Craig Seeman
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:43:10 pm

IANAL but the email is still a documented communication and the first payment an acknowledgment to the agreement.

Without exact wording you used it's hard to make exact suggestions. "Upon Delivery" can mean different things to different people.

This sounds like a small job dealing with an individual or small organization. IMHO the payment crosses your palms as the DVD crosses theirs. Offer to pick up the check (which still isn't secure because it can be canceled) when you deliver the DVD. I'd say explain that "Upon" does not mean after. Bigger businesses can be slow but there's no reason a small organization shouldn't have the money ready for you for an approved project. If they want an "approval" copy first so they feel comfortable with the quality of the work, I'd consider posting a Window Burn In (or other watermark) dub online (Vimeo with password protection and viewer download blocked might work).

Better wording might be "payment to be received at time of delivery." BTW that's why contracts drafted by lawyers are so awkward for laypeople to read. The language has very specific meaning and intent.



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Craig Seeman
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:46:42 pm

BTW it wouldn't hurt to be even more hard nosed about these upfront in that payment must clear to be considered paid. I've gotten a bounced check or two in my time. They've always made good on that though. Taking credit cards is better in my opinion.



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:12:45 pm

[Craig Seeman] "I've gotten a bounced check or two in my time."

In California, writing bad checks will land you in jail. You can't just write a check to get something and them let it sit forever. You have to deal with it or go to jail eventually.

Ron Lindeboom


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Craig Seeman
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:56:08 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "In California, writing bad checks will land you in jail. You can't just write a check to get something and them let it sit forever. You have to deal with it or go to jail eventually. "

Thanks for that. I think NYS law may be slightly different as to what the threshold is for criminal vs civil. In my case when I've received bad checks the clients have always made good on it.




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Alan Lloyd
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:56:14 pm

Tell them to start processing the check and you will hand them the DVD in even exchange.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:53:44 pm

with all these comments, Steve Wargo said it best.

Welcome to the business.

As you spend years, saying to yourself "I need to learn this, I need to buy that, in order to stay in business" - you will soon realize that 1) getting new business, and 2) collecting your money -
is what business is all about. Until you learn what COLLECTING YOUR MONEY DUE is all about, you are not in business.

Bob Zelin




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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 10, 2009 at 8:32:03 pm

[Alan Lloyd] "Tell them to start processing the check and you will hand them the DVD in even exchange."

Today, you can take a check number and process it through your bank without even having the check in hand. You just need their bank routing number (that identifies the bank), their account number (which identifies them as a customer of that bank), the amount, and a check number. Let your bank process it right away. When the funds are in your account, then and only then do you give them your work.

Oh, unless like Bob Zelin would say, you want to go out of business and then you can give them the work without all those extra steps.

Ron Lindeboom


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Franklin McMahon
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 11, 2009 at 1:14:55 pm


I agree with Steve, get paid up front. Especially with events. If you want to do 50/50 just say 50% up front to reserve the date and then the other half via a check the day of the event.

If a client does not want to do that, they are leveraging payment against seeing if you do a good job, so they have some control. That is not the kind of client you want. After you "seal the deal" a client needs to be confident they can hand you a full check and then get full results. If they are not, then you may need to button up the sales tighter.

Up front pay eliminates stress, paper work, lets you focus on just the craft of doing the project.

Do invoicing if you want when your business grows and you actually have an accounting department. But with doing things on a per project level just yourself, always get paid up front. There is absolutely no reason you should have to wait for payment. Of course you are in an industry with tons of producers doing it the way its always been done, and stressing out waiting for payments. But don't be afraid to think different. And always sculpt your business into an enterprise that is going to make you as happy and as stress free as possible.

Paying you in full after, during or before the project should make absolutely no difference between a great client and a great producer.

And upfront pay affirms the confidence that you are guaranteed to do a great job, as opposed to planting a seed of doubt with payments and "seeing how it goes".

Frank

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maya czep
Re: Seeking advice on getting paid
on Jul 14, 2009 at 3:00:06 am

My best advice would be to go to them with a contract saying that they promise to pay the remaining amount upon receipt of the final version BEFORE you give them anything else, and MAKE them sign it. Email is actually admisable in court, so you are ok on that to prove your conversations, but not the same as a contract. DO make sure that you get this, and just act like it is a formality. If they plan to pay you the money, then it should be no problem for them.

Best of wishes!!


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