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When a job goes on ... and on ...

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Rachel GormanWhen a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:01:49 am

Just wondering how all of you handle those freelance jobs that just kind of go on indefinitely for months and then stop without notice. I've been freelancing in LA off-and-on for about 15 years, but this is a new thing I've only encountered since the recession hit. Before, if I ever worked a place for more than two or three months, I got hired.

I have had a couple clients who originally booked me for a few days or a week and extended the job one day at a time for up to nine months. After a few weeks they just assumed I would be there the next day. Then, one day they just asked me not to come back. I even had one client tell me to take Monday off and then was surprised when I came back on Tuesday -- after more then six months!

In all of these situations, there was no contract. They refused to give me even a rough estimate of duration, or offered a vague promise of full-time employment.

In the beginning I turned down other holds, then the other offers dried up as word got out I was unavailable.

Of course I'm happy to have the long-term gig but how do I get them to respect my time and at least give me a heads up when the job is ending?


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Craig SeemanRe: When a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Mar 14, 2012 at 5:55:14 am

[Rachel Gorman] "Of course I'm happy to have the long-term gig but how do I get them to respect my time and at least give me a heads up when the job is ending?"

By having a contract. By requiring them to book you in advance. If they don't have you booked than you're free to take other jobs. If they don't like that, they'll book you to ensure you're coming in that day.

BTW, personally in this business climate I don't consider being "hired" much better because of the number of companies that suddenly shut their doors or have a financial problem that result in them missing payroll.

A long term non contractual position could leave in you a bad state as you can see. If you start turning down bookings those potential clients may not come back. You're left with no work, no client base.

This is why, one may reach a point where one decides to start your own business even if it's a sole proprietorship run out of your home office. While any business relationship is open to abuse, I find it's very easy to businesses to grasp that they must book time for your services when you're "a business." It seems to be easier to grasp that on any given day you may be booked with other clients and that they must book the time they want you for.

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Rachel GormanRe: When a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Mar 14, 2012 at 3:46:56 pm

Yes, I do have a sole proprietorship and had worked exclusively from my home office for several years after getting fed up with the last full-time gig. That is definietely the way I prefer to work -- in a perfect world. After the recession there just was not enough to go around anymore and several of my long-time clients went under. So I ended up back in the freelance pool out of necessity.

There are no contracts, and I can't expect them. I do demand a decent hourly rate, overtime and daily minimums. That's a lot more than most people ask for and I can't really demand much more without being deemed difficult.

Just looking for some good tips for keeping the scope of these projects clear without scaring away the client.

Thanks for your response.

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Mark SuszkoRe: When a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:24:43 pm

You can continue to be victimized or you can insist on a deal memo on paper. That's not being "diffcult", it's just good business.

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Jason JenkinsRe: When a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Mar 14, 2012 at 5:19:47 pm

[Rachel Gorman] "There are no contracts, and I can't expect them."

Don't call it a contract then. Call it an agreement. I don't see any way out of this without having something down in writing that both parties can refer back to.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my profile.

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Craig SeemanRe: When a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Mar 14, 2012 at 7:53:37 pm

To add to what we've been saying, it's always hard to "enforce" a contract without the resources to go to court if it's broken. At the very least, what a contract (or agreement) does do, is make the expectations clear. If you want your time respected, put it in writing.

If they ignore it, it won't be because you haven't made clear what your expectations are. Then you have to make some decisions.

If such agreement is something they've actively discouraged. Then they've chosen to define the relationship as per diem and on any given day you can chose to work elsewhere so that you can maintain a broader client base (and be less dependent on a single client for income). If they aren't happy with that, then you can certainly offer them to change the relationship. That's what the agreement can do. They agree to respect your offered relationship . . . or not. If it's "not" you need to act accordingly in your own best interest.

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Shane RossRe: When a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Mar 14, 2012 at 8:44:30 pm

Unless they commit to you, you TOO are free to leave and take another gig. And if you have their media, and a project file that contains all the work you did on YOUR system...and you leave...that would leave them high and dry, unless they got that from you.

I work in LA, and I insist on an agreement.

Of course some companies I work for have me sign agreements, and they tend to include "we can give you notice at any time, and that notice will be (1) day." But then I can quit with (1) days notice too. Although that makes the "booked for a block of time" moot.

yeah...I need to insist on a "pay or play" sort of thing. If they can't use me, they need to cover me for 2 weeks. that has happened on more than one occasion.

Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

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Mike CohenRe: When a job goes on ... and on ...
by on Apr 6, 2012 at 4:51:07 pm

Whenever I hire a local video crew, which is often, I get either a contract on invoice from the vendor ahead of time, listing the terms, the date/s of hire and what they will be providing.

It is your obligation to provide this. If you don't then you have no recourse when you get into a situation like you are describing.

End of story. Don't like the answer, don't ask the question.

Mike Cohen

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