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Client revisions

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Angelo LorenzoClient revisions
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 12:59:25 am

Now I've worked with high end clients like car companies and they're no nonsense, send a few lists of revisions, deliver on the deadline and all is well.

I've has a few instances doing commercials for local businesses or organizations who are stretching to afford us. As such, I'm sure many of you know, they get very antsy about the finished product.

Is there any effective way to set hard limits for revisions? We mused that we could offer a time limit at the beginning of post to lock the edit after, say, two weeks but if the client is still weird about it its not like they'd sign off on finishing. Now I'm all for revisions if they make the finished product better, but most of the time these requests usually just delay the project.

Any thoughts on these situations?

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Gav BottRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 1:16:50 am

Only because I'm here 1st, but I suspect you are going to get "it’s in the contract right?" as a response to this one.

Personally I put it in the quote, contract, and the production plan - just so the client knows that anything over a certain point either doesn't happen & we get paid what was agreed at outset, or is billed on top (or we come to a compromise somewhere between the 2).

This assumes that there is planned signed off on all the big creative choices as the project has chugged along and aren't seeing something totally unexpected at the 1st showing/revision stage.

So for most projects I quote/contract/plan for 2 revision stages - and that's it. Anything else that's decided after those 2 meetings and re-cuts get billed. I'm also still very happy to make the slightly artificial distinction between offline and online to mark a point of no return on revisions....

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

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Angelo LorenzoRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 1:27:10 am

In our contracts we do have sign offs and timelines so we have some artificial soft deadlines to enforce. Within that we've been short sighted to really define a tweak vs a revision.

One of the situations that brought this to a larger amount of attention is some heavy edits we had to do for a client. They wrote the script in-house and approved themselves, we did a 3d previs they signed off on, filmed it to script and signed off on it, and between rewriting things before the shoot they tried to "rewrite" it through the edit as well. At that point we did not have a set revision period and things dragged tremendously.

I guess what it comes down to is: is it better to set revisions in a time period or revisions in a hard number?

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Gav BottRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 5:41:36 am

Why not both?

2 revisions (or number you 1st thought of) each equalling 2 max days work....

It's hours/days work that's being quoted for and billed, no reason not to spell it out in the contract & plans.

Then when you hit the "I'd like to reimagine my project in edit please" you can return to - "Great, sounds fantastic & so long as it takes only 2 days we'll still be in budget & won't need to bill the extra hours....."

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

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Chris TompkinsRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 1:06:39 pm

We let the client make as many changes as they see fit till they are happy with it.

95% of the time this is no problem for us.

3% of the time is a little bit of a hassle

2% of the time - it's a royal pain and it drags on for what seems like forever until they figure out what they want.

Now this is when we quote one number for the whole job. Usually padded in our favor.

If the job is billable by the hour from the onset, then by all means, make as many changes as you want I say.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC

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Mark SuszkoRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 2:29:06 pm

I think what Gav has laid out for you is pretty standard and that's what I would offer a client as well. Because your project is supposed to have gone thru a detailed planning process including the Creative Treatment, all the big unknowns have been dealt with, all the changes made on paper, where they don't cost anything, and everybody can see in advance what the work is going to be like. The only unknown then is something technical or mechanical that pops up in the edit, like, some tape turns out to have bad audio or color balance or something like that that needs extra time to fix.

On that basis, it makes sense to put in the contract that they get to see a first rough (well, actually finished or "director's") cut, where they can approve it or suggest minor tweaks, then they get to see the adjusted master to confirm that the changes were made as requested, and you should be DONE.

Re-edits after that are a separate contract, or you bill for extra time on an hourly basis. Because you have fulfilled your original contractual obligations to that point. You also make clear that the policy on errors is: if we screwed up, we eat the cost, for example, if we spelld a lower third title wrong. Even if nobody catches it for a week, if we were given it spelled right and we spelled it wrong, the make-good is on us.

If however we look at the documents the client gave us and find THEY are the ones that gave it to us spelled wrong, then that's billable.

If the client loses their nerve after the ball has started rolling, and wants to make drastic changes, you have to decide if they are drastic enough to be considered outside the scope of the original brief. At that point, weigh the factors between scrapping the original project, getting paid for all work up to that point, and starting a new contact, or adding billable additional time to the original contract thru a written addendum or change order memo, with specific deliverables and payment schedule, for the new stuff. If you don't, you will lose your profit margin on the deal.

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Timothy J. AllenRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 30, 2011 at 9:38:03 pm

Just had to say that when you wrote "spelld a lower third title wrong" I almost did a spit take. Clever guy.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 30, 2011 at 10:45:12 pm

That was a fluke Freudian typo to start with, but when I found it in a pre-read before posting, I decided it was perfect as it was, where it was. But thanks for noticing; you're the first person who has.

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Krissy CarstensRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 3:59:02 pm

good advice

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Craig SeemanRe: Client revisions
by on Sep 22, 2011 at 4:29:15 pm

How revisions are handled in the contract must be either implicit or explicit.

Personally I do not explicitly state a number of revisions because a revision can be as simple as changing a few titles to as complex as creating an entirely new piece when the nice client decides after viewing the cut, they want to take an entirely different direction.

Revision are part of the time assigned to the project in the contract. Both the client and post have to do time management. I remind the client of the need for time for revisions much like a "two minute warning" at a sporting event. Obviously I let them see things much earlier in the game though.

For me, the client pays for X days for post and revisions are included in that time and it states such in the contract.

To me, allowing one or x number of revisions can be dangerous because some clients will see the "revision" as an opportunity to do an almost entirely new edit. To some clients a "revision" is an opportunity to "try" things and that can be dangerous because if they don't like the results, they then want yet another revision.

Knowing there is a clock to the game is important to both client and post. The client may not be a good judge of time so I make it my business to remind them. And of course if they want an extra day I'll sell it to them.

Keep in mind that, whether we like it or not, we are selling time (amongst other things). While I'm working on one project and booking another. That next client wants a start date so time on any project has to be carefully managed.

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