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Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?

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Joe Bigornia
Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Jan 7, 2012 at 5:43:47 am

I am looking for some kind of source on how to write a "sizzle reel" and a "pitch presentation" contract, I am going to do a 5-8 day shoot, depending on how each one goes. Then post production with after effects and so forth. I will also include travel expenses,food for the crew.
Please, if anyone has a template that I can use, I would really appreciate it. Thank you


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Jan 7, 2012 at 4:56:10 pm

I usually find it best to have a thorough description in mind and I drop that into a standard contract. Try to describe the work as specifically as possible without being so specific you will bottleneck or overly limit yourself. If there are very specific elements that must be there, go with that. All of my contracts started with the standard agreement I downloaded from LegalZoom a couple years back. I've made lots of little tweaks from pricey mistakes I've made in the past. As always, it's worth the extra couple bucks to have an attorney review the contract and make pointers - paying a lawyer $125 to review a $5000 contract is smart business.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Jan 7, 2012 at 4:56:18 pm

I usually find it best to have a thorough description in mind and I drop that into a standard contract. Try to describe the work as specifically as possible without being so specific you will bottleneck or overly limit yourself. If there are very specific elements that must be there, go with that. All of my contracts started with the standard agreement I downloaded from LegalZoom a couple years back. I've made lots of little tweaks from pricey mistakes I've made in the past. As always, it's worth the extra couple bucks to have an attorney review the contract and make pointers - paying a lawyer $125 to review a $5000 contract is smart business.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Mark Suszko
Re: Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Jan 9, 2012 at 3:10:25 pm

You don't write a sizzle reel, you shoot and edit it. If you mean, "how do I make a contract to shoot and/or edit a sizzle reel", that's a relatively simple case of time and materials, if you know your day rate. You use your best judgement to approximate the number of hours it will take to edit the footage, multiply that by the hourly or day rate you already have established, add a little margin for unforseen surprises.

Write a "deal memo" that says your best estimate on the work called "n" with a running time of "t" is x hours, for which you will charge at Y dollars per hour, with a projected completion date for delivery of D date. The estimate is only an estimate, and the client should be prepared to be billed for up to an additional z number of hours as a contingency, without requiring a new deal memo. Further editing past the z hours will require pre-approval from the client in writing. You require 1/3 to 1/2 of the expected total in a cash down-payment to begin the work. No work will be begun until the down payment is made. The rest of the invoice is due upon delivery, and no product will be delivered without first being paid in full. Should editor or client not agree on specifics of the project, the memo is mutually severable at any stage after the down-payment has been made, and in any such case, the down payment is retained but subsequent billing is only for actual hours worked up to the time of severance. The client, for his money, is entitled to view a draft of the finished product and if they do not approve the product, they may cancel the rest of the project without paying any more than the down payment, or they can continue the project to completion. In exchange, you will make revisions to the draft as required by the client, then the revised product will be called the master tape if approved by the client, and payment in full is required. If the client rejects these revisions, no more money need be paid, and the deal will be considered canceled, but the editor retains ownership of the rejected work, not the client. The editor will have the right to use representative excerpts of the completed and approved work for a portfolio and resume purposes, unless expressly agreed to otherwise by both parties. The editor's work files, templates, software files and other means of production are retained by the editor as proprietary tradecraft, unless specifically contracted otherwise. All original materials initially supplied by the client are to be returned upon delivery of the master, or upon severance of the agreement.

For me, that's the basic deal memo, covering the most common areas of contention, based on experience and observation.

I didn't include any "hold harmless" or "copyright clearance" clauses, because, if you follow my opinions on these matters, they aren't really enforceable and may actually weaken your position in court if anyone eventually sues. Your muscle in this situatiion is your ability to sever the deal if/when you don't like the smell.


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Richard Herd
Re: Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Jan 9, 2012 at 5:13:03 pm

Google AICP bid form.


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Linda Naks
Re: Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Oct 5, 2014 at 10:58:17 pm

Mark, only a few days ago did I come across your thoughts here r.e. deal memos, and I wanted to thank you, 2.5 years later, for just now having saved me from a certain, massive mess.

All last week I had been trying to sanely negotiate with a "client" whose sizzle smelled bad to me from the start; so, in order to protect myself from past (costly) mistakes, I finally presented them with a very simple yet very clean and legal deal memo, as per your opinions above.

Funny thing-- said Client flipped out on me this morning, emailing how "I have poor communication skills" and (despite several of my sizzles having sold to Network, lol) how I "don't know what I'm doing" blah blah blah... Apparently, somebody didn't like the concept of discussed rates and expectations put into a written contract ;-)

It cannot be stressed enough how important written contracts are for safeguarding us digital mercenaries who edit outside the protection of post houses' established legal teams. May editors continue to find this thread and heed your wise words as well. Thank you, Mark!!

And, as always, love you Creative Cow! for your archived threads and tech support that continue to bail me out, sometimes years after the fact.

Best-- L


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Mark Suszko
Re: Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Oct 5, 2014 at 11:41:56 pm

Hold your ground, Linda: he's posturing. This is a common technique of a "grinder" client. Look up the famous essay by Ron Lindeboom on "Grinders" here on the COW.


If the client can't agree to these kinds of basics, you should walk away, no matter how tempting the money, because this will be a job that costs you, instead of making you a profit. And it also will cost you in terms of stress and ill-feelings and bad publicity.


What he's doing now is a bluff to scare you into backing down on your rates and/or the other deliverables clauses. Do not be manipulated, but stand your ground and negotiate from strength. They have to believe you would rather walk away than take a bad deal. And YOU have to believe it, and look like you believe it. If neither of you believes that, they own you, and will always be dictating the terms to you.

Remember: you are a business, not a charity. You are also not a bank giving out free loans to clients, so get paid all along the way in stages as work is completed, and you won't be left holding the bag.

Best of luck!


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Linda Naks
Re: Any templates on how to write a "sizzle reel" and "Pitch presentation" contract?
on Oct 6, 2014 at 1:46:34 am
Last Edited By Linda Naks on Oct 6, 2014 at 2:30:04 am

Thank you very much, Mark. That Grinders article is a timeless and fascinating read. I no longer even deign to "have heard it all," as seems there will always be some new Grinder infesting my Inbox with a sob story that's out of this universe. Don't worry-- caving in is not an option for me, and I will quit eating and sell my TV before I ever again take on a cheap rate. Glad my "poor communication skills" pushed this nutjob away today before I even touched their media.


Further on the topic of Grinders: the good news is that a past Grinder (who took my sizzle onto an editing rollercoaster from hell) recently sold our "ultra-low-budget indie" sizzle reel (which I personally created from scratch utilizing blood, sweat, and tears) …to none other than one of the Big3 music networks. "Uh-oh," for all involved! When said Grinder recently refused to honor my humble request for him to now pay me that which he had promised in the event of it actually selling, this stupid little girl simply contacted the purchasing Network's Legal Department directly-- who has become keenly interested in what a lowly sizzle editor has to say.

The really funny bit: my former Grinder may well have gone berserker on me in an obviously drunken, knee-jerk-reaction email rant denying my request for outstanding compensation; but, conversely, the Network's responses to me are EXTREMELY polite and cautious ;-) Since I made the Network aware that they bought from the Grinder what is, for all intents and purposes, goods (partially) stolen from me, now I merely and patiently await this new series to go to air. The moment that my sizzle's series airs: sweet mercy, "Lawyer-up, everybody!" My Grinder, the Network, and I will all be going to court together, to hash out what my slave-labor was actually worth to a billion-dollar franchise. Me, well, I simply cannot wait for the first episode to air. The ride will be the most interesting show I've seen all year.

Oh-- and to contractors out there: as important as Deal Memos is keeping all sent and received emails!! My Grinder recently dug his own grave by blathering too much for his own good in his e-rant refusing my request for proper payment. I had made the mistake of not having a simple Deal Memo when I began that sizzle… but his recent hatemail clearly exposed that we had an agreement indeed. I shall delight when that stellar piece comes out in court. As my brother (an electrician, who's also heard just about every Grinder story in the book) likes to say, "No, it's not 'ruthless.' It's just business."


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