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Botched job?

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Grant Wilber
Botched job?
on Apr 7, 2012 at 1:48:09 pm

So I got this gig that I did and it just didn't come out the way I wanted. There were alot more factors involved then I realized and then the client told me and I'll probably just reshoot it with a different game plan then try to deal with editing what I got.

But this got me thinking. What do you do with a failed job if they gave you partial payment? Most likely you agree that it didn't come out good and its a bigger budget then you first thought. Or maybe you just realize the whole thing is can of worms and a pain and don't even want to deal with it. Do you give them their money back? What should a contract read?

Just wondering what peoples thoughts are on this so I can safe guard for the future.

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Greg Ball
Re: Botched job?
on Apr 7, 2012 at 3:47:43 pm

Hi Grant,

My suggestion is to always try to make it right and satisfy the client. If that means re-shooting it at your expense do it. If that means it. Of course the key is to have a proposal that outlines EXACTLY what you'll be providing, and what the client agrees to. Make sure they understand what you're going to be delivering. Then at the end of the day, give them more than they expected. Surprise them with extras.

Of course we al have had that "botched" job. I had one where the client provided a person to demonstrate a small product. The person they provided was horrible. Her hand shook while holding the product for demonstration, and they had waaaay too much eye make-up. I felt uncomfortable, because she really wanted to do this for her company. The client had left us alone with her. I should have stopped production and found the client to tell him this wasn't working. But I didn't do that. In the end, I went back to the client and told him the footage wasn't good enough, and we re-shot it with a better talent(at my cost).

The results were outstanding and we earned the client's respect and appreciation. We've done 2 more projects for the client.

At the end of the day, it's not just about getting paid, it's about pride in a job well done and about giving great customer service.

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Craig Seeman
Re: Botched job?
on Apr 7, 2012 at 6:59:59 pm

[Grant Wilber] "So I got this gig that I did and it just didn't come out the way I wanted. There were alot more factors involved then I realized and then the client told me"

Granted many of us get hit with the "unexpected" but one of the more important skills to learn is to be a "video detective" when it comes to sales.

Clients often aren't good at articulating their needs to the level of detail we need. One thing to ascertain is the client's experience with video. This all part of the importance of asking questions and being a good listener (especially for clues) rather than doing most of the talking. Talk to them about past projects. See to what extent they understood what was involved. Find out about what they'd like to happen this time. Do this be getting them to "open up" rather than sounding like you're challenging their knowledge. Sometimes I'll even ask them to show me past projects. They'll give you plenty of clues as they talk.

Think of "fail safe" mechanisms you can implement immediately during the shoot. What they are may depend on the project though. Some things to watch out for though are unexpected changes in the shooting environment that can impact sound, light, space, last minute change in location. Another is the on camera subject's skill set and appearance. This ranges from body appearance, mannerisms, on camera speaking skills.

If it's obvious to you something has to change during the shoot, contact the decision maker immediately, It's better to change course during the shoot and add a bit more time to the day if possible or, make a revision to the overall shoot schedule, than have to reshoot, possibly gratis.

An important thing to remember is that your job is not only in executing the job but in communicating. It's mission critical not to botch communication and, as the professional, you should anticipate that some clients are not good communicators. One needs to develop the skills (it's part of sales skills) to spot that and judiciously get the information you need to your satisfaction so you can execute the job.

Sometimes I think the single most important must have skill worth promoting is "we hold hands." That has many meanings actually. It's good to be fluent in all of them. It's important to understand the language of the client.

Yes, it's important to own up to one's failure at that communication but the important lesson to learn is the skill set needed to avoid the botched job buy mutually changing course when things go awry.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Botched job?
on Apr 10, 2012 at 2:57:18 pm

Very wise counsel from Craig.

My 2 cents:

You stage payments in sections all thru the life of the project so that you or the client can stop at one of these waypoints and cancel if you need to, and only the work done up to that point is paid for.

Based off what Craig and others have already said, if the fault is yours, you should eat what costs you can from that mistake. I happen to be of the opinion that if the customer dines and dashes, or the waitress drops the platter, that doesn't mean the chef should get docked his pay for cooking the food. If the chef cooked it wrong, then he gets docked. So problems caused by the client's side, you bill for. A mistake that's clearly your own, you should eat. I spell this out directly to clients for example when discussing graphics. I tell them if they spell some name wrong on the paperwork they send em, I'll charge them time to fix it. If they sent it right but I transcribed it wrong, that's on me and I eat that mistake.

If the project is a completely unusable disaster, you've got to decide how much of your money you should rebate or refund. If you think you can do it right with a second try, then suggest a rebate for the expended value to date. This keeps their business with you.

How important is it to keep or end the relationship on a good note? Very: this business is driven by referrals and reputation. Just as important as a rep for doing good work is a reputation for owning up to and making right the mistakes you sometimes make. Marketing research stats show that 70 percent of customers who have a complaint will continue to do business with you, if you resolve problems in their favor. So it can pay to take an occasional hit even if it really was the customer's fault with bad prep or whatever.

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Jeff Cadge
Re: Botched job?
on Apr 11, 2012 at 1:52:01 am


You didn't give details about what caused this shoot to be unsuccessful.

Was it the choice of talent, the production design or lack of, including sets, locations, props, wardrobe

or the lack of planning needed to cover all the shots in the script in the alloted time?

Like Craig said it's critical to understand your client's expectations and to review all the details before the shoot so you meet their expectations.

It's not your video, you're a hired gun it's your client's video so you have to understand what level of production they want.

It sounds like you might of underestimated the scope of the job, again ask all the questions before hand so you can budget appropriately.

Don't take anything for granted and remember Murphy's law.

If all details are closely covered before the shoot: style of photography, talent, props, wardrobe, locations and you've budgeted your time correctly you will minimize issues during your shoot.

You can't afford to pay for reshoots...


Jeff Cadge

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Grant Wilber
Re: Botched job?
on Apr 12, 2012 at 2:53:26 am

Thanks for all the good advice.

I'm definitely one for always making sure that I do right by my customer and won't hesitate to eat costs or do more shooting or editing when its my fault. I'm still starting out so sometimes I just try to go too big with a production when the lower budget's doesn't allow for it to be done correctly.

Again great advice all around though.

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Jim Lillis
Re: Botched job?
on Jun 12, 2012 at 3:37:56 am

Contract should reflect what your bid on that contract outlined.

This would fall under our "Objectives & Goals" section.

One of the final paragraphs states unequivocally that any/all variances from the Objectives / Goals portion of the contract will incur additional costs at cost + 10%.

Clients squirm every now n then, but the "creative director" of the firm we're working for seems to be the only one who takes the heat for ruining the "bottom line" of the production.

If it moves . . . Shoot it!

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