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Fee for handing over all footage?

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Grant WilberFee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 10, 2013 at 3:41:34 am

I'm getting to the point where I'm bringing in some bigger jobs. In the past I've always been happy to turn over any footage the client wants at the end of a project just to keep relationships going. Plus everyone has always just had me handle any future edits with footage I've shot in the past.

Last year I had a big job where I traveled and spent three days at a company. We had a goal of 5 videos, but I shot it and interviewed in a way where another 10 videos could easily be made. I told them no fee for handing over footage, thinking they'd come back to me. In the end they thought they could handle editing anything else themselves.

I got some similar jobs coming up. So looking for advice. I'm thinking about just having a 'fee' to buy all the footage and just sticking it in the contract. Not sure if I should just charge based off what I think it's worth or come up with some formula to keep everything consistent.

Does anyone else do this or have experience with it?


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Bill DavisRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 10, 2013 at 5:23:08 am

The higher up the ladder you go, the less you'll find ownership rights a subject that you can do anything about.

With small clients it wasn't important because they didn't ever have the money to pay for more than "the job"

When I'd worked my way up to middle sized clients, that stuff concerned me - and I struggled with how to do it like you're doing right now. I figured it was the "professional" thing to do.

And when I eventually broke into working with major corporate clients - I found myself on the weak side of contracts that their 100 person legal departments demanded that generally protected every iota of work I did for the corporations as pure work for hire and the contracts they demanded had 50 paragraphs making that crystal clear.

So one way to look at it is how much time to you want to spend preparing yourself to be stuck in the middle tier?

If you expect it to be a long time - spend time and effort and maybe money getting that stuff down on paper and working out systems to tilt what rules you can toward your favor.

Just understand that the moment you move to the next tier - the big lawyers are likely to stomp all the work you did crafting those protections to dust. That's what they're being paid for.

FWIW.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Tim WilsonRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 10, 2013 at 6:26:47 am

I'm going to come at this much more directly.

The transaction as I understand it: somebody pays you to shoot. You shoot. They pay.

If I have this right, then the answer is simple: once you have 100% of the money, they get 100% of the footage.

Imagine that a guy paints your house, then wants to take the unused paint away. He says, "You paid me to paint the house. I painted the house. I'm taking the paint." You say, "Wait! What if it needs a touch-up? Or what if I want to paint another room the same color?" He says, "You can pay me to do the work at that time. But I'm taking the paint."

That's ridiculous. Yes, you paid for him to paint the house, but you also paid for the paint. He has to leave all the extra paint with you. IT'S YOUR PAINT.

Now, you might have signed a contract that said, "Painter gets to keep unused paint. Client must pay for any additional work performed with previously-purchased paint" -- but you wouldn't sign a contract like that. Nobody would.

Don't ask your clients to sign a contract like that with YOU. They paid for the finished job, but they also paid for the raw materials.

Projects, now that's a different story. I'd ride into the gates of hell, reins between my teeth, saber in one hand, a shotgun in the other, bandoleers across my chest, to keep a client away from a project file. That's MINE.

But the footage? The client paid you to shoot it. It belongs to them.

The only need for lawyers is if you want to create some clever dodge to work around this basic fact of business, or fight off clients who challenge your plan to keep footage that they paid for.

Seriously. Don't ask them to sign a contract that you never would.


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walter biscardiRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 10, 2013 at 11:04:16 am

[Tim Wilson] "I'm going to come at this much more directly.

The transaction as I understand it: somebody pays you to shoot. You shoot. They pay.

If I have this right, then the answer is simple: once you have 100% of the money, they get 100% of the footage.
"


Bingo. That's where I see it too and how we've always handled things. In the example on this thread, he was also paid to travel for the job.

You're paid for your services to shoot footage and the raw material, they own everything.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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Todd TerryRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 10, 2013 at 5:02:24 pm

[Tim Wilson] "Now, you might have signed a contract that said, "Painter gets to keep unused paint. Client must pay for any additional work performed with previously-purchased paint" -- but you wouldn't sign a contract like that. Nobody would. "

Well maybe we are weird, ignorant, or just plain greedy... but that's pretty much what our contracts do say, and clients sign them every day. We've never had one balk, or even question it.

Our clients hire us to create their finished productions, and that's what they get. Most of the time those are broadcast commercials, and they can air them anywhere and any time. The don't though, get the elements that went to make up the project (not only footage, but any other elements... music, voice tracks, whatever)... nor can they take their finished productions and do anything to it (re-edit it, etc., or use the footage in something else unless their contract specifically says they can).

Often times our footage is going to contain something that is rights-managed (i.e., an actor's performance that was contracted for a specific job, etc.). If we gave away raw footage that would become a rights nightmare, here.

Our theory behind this structure is pretty simple. We basically do two things... shoot, and edit. As must as I love to shoot (and not-love-so-much editing), we don't make much money off shooting (almost none) because the overhead is so high. Ergo, we're really doing the shoot jobs in order to get the edit jobs... which are much more profitable.

It doesn't happen too often, but sometimes we are hired to do "shoot only" gigs. This is usually when an out-of-town producer flies in to get some footage that's only a part of a larger job. For these people, of course we gladly hand over the footage.... but we do have a "shoot only" rate for that, which is somewhat higher than our regular hourly rate.

Handing over footage in the past wasn't an issue that came up much, compounded by the fact that most clients couldn't do anything with our footage. For years we shot two formats: 35mm film, and video in the 24f format (Canon's particular proprietary flavor of 24p). Most clients couldn't handle a 35mm negative, nor the Matrox AVI files that we had telecined from them. As for 24f, for quite a while there was only one deck that could play that footage out of the countless decks out there. Most of our footage was simply not in a format that was usable to anyone else. A couple of times that we did hand off footage, those clients ended up coming back to us because it was easier and cheaper for us to deal with the acquisition formats. And a few times we've converted raw footage into a more usable and specific format for a client... but of course there is associated edit suite time for that.

Things might change. We shoot almost exclusively with the Canon C300PL now, which generates MXF files. Those are quite a bit more likely to be usable by other people, so we'll see if things change.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark SuszkoRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:20:27 pm

I see nothing wrong with presenting the client with one cost for giving them all the footage, and a discounted cost based on them agreeing to have you do the edit.

I would word it something like: We will discount the fee for the footage by x percent, contingent on a signed editing contract for that footage with a down payment of y amount."

You want to figure it so that they DO save a reasonable margin if they do the edit, but that down payment will be larger than normal in case they sign, take the discount, then split. So that down payment should about equal the discount. Won't matter if they are honest and follow thru on the project, but protects you if they are tricksters.


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Steve MartinRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 11, 2013 at 6:36:07 pm

Yep. I think I'm with Tim on this one.

Raw footage? Yes.
Finished Video deliverable in any format(s) you'd like? Sure!
Project files? Hell no!

Having said that, we make every effort to make it as easy and convenient for them to leave all the footage with us - including at times no charge (or heavily discounted) change order for minor updates, etc... We have to present value to our clients for every project.

But at the end of the day, I think it's their footage and that's how we position ourselves in our standard contract. Even if we know they're going to give it to the kid they just hired from a local high school with a multimedia program.

We'll change a reasonable fee to duplicate the files (i.e time & effort, hard drive(s), etc..) but that's about it. Sometimes they realize the error of their ways... other times... not-so-mcuh :(

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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Andrew KimeryRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 13, 2013 at 8:55:04 pm

Isn't it common in photography for the photographer to retain ownership of the negatives the client to just get the prints?




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Mike SmithRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:31:19 pm

Yes it is.

This thread comes up from time to time, and divides into those who think like a hired crew - all footage belongs to the hirer - and those who think like a producer - so hired to deliver a completed programme, and that's what's delivered. The intermediate steps, the items of footage, the permission slips, the copyright clearances, the rights assignments from contributors all relate to the specific project (and quite likely to that only) rest with the producer, rather than the client who commissions, specifically, a programme or series of programmes.

Both persuasions are well represented here. Neither is likely to switch position. Either position is tenable and fair (*and legal).

It's just good to be on the same page with your client right up front, so terms can be agreed and no nasty surprises down the line.


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 13, 2013 at 11:33:52 pm

This whole argument (if indeed it can be called that) reminds me of my days doing print for clients. Although the client got the final print job, I held all of the master files, and the printer wouldn't even think of letting anyone near the plates. It was right in the contract, as I remember, that the printing plates were property of the printer. It's a tricky dance - you want to keep your client happy, but you want to protect yourself from the bottom-feeding clients who just move from shop to shop, saying "If you'll do this first project on the cheap, we'll have tons of work coming in later...". And of course "later" is never...

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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gary SeabrookRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 18, 2013 at 8:29:49 am

Both persuasions are well represented here. Neither is likely to switch position. Either position is tenable and fair (*and legal).

Mike, can I ask you a question related to your post here? A couple of years ago, we shot some video profiles across the world for a client. No contract was signed in terms of who owned (or would own) any aspect of the project. Like any other project, we ended up with the raw footage, the finished edits and all of the other attendant files (Music bed, After Effects files, Color Project files etc). We delivered the finished edits over to the client in their requested format.

There was a verbal agreement that the client would only use these files on their website and would only use them for a year. After that they would come back to us when they wanted to film any more content.

In this tough economic climate, they presumably decided not to film any more profiles, as they have not come back to us and haven't added any further work on their site. BUT.... they are continuing to use the edits we produced for them.

So, my question is this... As no contract is in place to determine any rights of use, does this mean that they legally have the right to continue to use these videos on their site, if they wish, or is there some kind of right, as with photography, where they would need to buy out "in perpetuity" the right to continue to have them embedded on their site?

The law seems to be very blurry in this area of video / film production in a way that it isn't where photography is concerned.

Any thoughts welcome. Thank you.
Gary

Best thing to do with good advice? Pass it on


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Todd TerryRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Mar 19, 2013 at 5:38:53 pm

[gary Seabrook] "There was a verbal agreement that the client..."

See, the thing is, you likely DO have a contract there.

What many people don't realize is that (at least here in the States) a VERBAL contract is just a legal and binding as one on paper. You just have to have the three things that any contract needs, 1) offer 2) acceptance, and 3) consideration... and voilĂ , you have a real contract.

A yard guy knocks and my door and asks if I need my lawn mowed and says he'll do it for me for $25. I say sure. There... we have a contract. He made an offer, I accepted it, and there was consideration of $25. Technically that's just as binding as any contract out there and fully enforceable.

The only real problem with a verbal contract is the fact that it is not provable. Either party can say "No, I didn't say that, what I really said was...." at any time, with no way to disprove that.

So really Gary, as long as you and the other party agree to those use-it-for-a-year terms and there was consideration, you do have a contract with them. You are well within your rights to give them a ring and ask if they'd like to extend their usage rights for some period of time... and if they don't, you're free to remind them that under the terms of their agreement with you that they should stop using the material.

You might even still have some emails or other documentation that would help validate this contract, which does indeed exist.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Neal PetroskyRe: Fee for handing over all footage?
by on Jun 5, 2014 at 5:46:43 pm

Extremely late to the thread but was killing time looking at past subjects.
I have to agree with Todd, but it also depends on how you are hired. Are you a production house that is setting up the talent, location scouting, obtaining permits, doing the filming (or directing it if not physically being an operator), and then editing, finding RF music tracks, voice over, paying these people? If so.. I'd say everything captured is yours (or your company's) and you should charge a fee for handing that footage over. And even with that, as Todd pointed out, you may have some release issues with handing over footage.
If you're just getting hired to shoot... of course, but charge more as you're losing out on the editing side of things.
It all comes down to communication with the client. Don't tell them, educate them.
For my company, we are 99% of the time the producer... we do everything from concept to final production. We're still stuck in that middle tier, so we haven't had too many issues with handing over footage, but we do have it in our contract that there is a fee for us to do that. This is conveniently non specified because I'm not going to hold ourselves to a dollar amount. It depends on the project.
However, I would never EVER hand over any project files (premiere, AE etc...)... those are proprietary, very often contain licensed plug ins/fonts/graphics that they wouldn't have access to even if we did hand it over.

We also quote our projects based on what the final production is. So no, you are not hiring me to shoot stuff and archive it for you, you are hiring me to deliver a 1x :30 spot (or whatever) and that's it. Anything else, you pay for.


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