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How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?

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Reuben Fink
How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 8, 2013 at 6:37:14 pm

On occasion this has been a problem with studious booking me for editorial but their client winds up taking too long to approve rough-cuts so the deadline gets pushed. I typically don't find out till the day of and of course am left hanging without time to book anything else in it's place. I don't really have a system for handling this sort of thing so wanted to find out how others approach it. Do you charge a cancelation fee or anything along those lines?

Thanks.

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Equipment: 2.8 ghz 8 core Intal Mac Pro 3,1 Early 2008, 20 gig of ram
Aps: CS6 Production Premium, FCP Suite, Avid Media Composer


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 8, 2013 at 9:57:58 pm

A common practice is to bill the full rate or a percentage of it if the cancellation occurs with shorter than 24 hours notice. It's more of a piece of courtesy information than anything, since any client who would cancel with that short a notice, would probably refuse to pay the penalty. But it's a good awareness tool, and sometimes things do happen...

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


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Steve Martin
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 9, 2013 at 3:02:11 pm

This can be tricky if the studios are repeat clients. My approach would be is to have a pleasant conversation with the studio(s) in question and ask them how they handle that type of situation and ask for their "advise" is dealing with it. This way instead of making it adversarial with your client, you are collaborating with them. And you get to make your point that this is a problem for you without poking your finger in their eye.

Granted this point of view is coming from a studio guy - but it goes both ways. Every now and then we'll have a freelancer booked for a one day gig and he'll get an offer for a week's worth of work. When that happens, I'll usually get a call that goes something like, "Hi Steve, for the xyz project we're doing this week, would it be OK if I replace myself with so-and-so? I think he'll do a great job for this project and it will give me a opportunity to take a week long gig."

If I don't think it's a problem, I'll agree. If I hesitate, they'll turn down the week long gig in heart beat because they've already committed to us. This works for us because we value our freelancers very much and have great relationships with them - and visa versa.

If you've got a good relationship with them, talk with them - you might strengthen the relationship even more. If you don't have a good relationship with them, talk to them - perhaps you can build it up.

At the end of the day, if they don't value you - you may simply have to decide if you want to work with a particular studio.

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

http://www.OmniNewMedia.com
http://www.GreenSlateStudios.com


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Fernando Mol
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:28:01 pm

I have a "fine print" addendum in my budget format to specify things like this.

It's not a contract, but when a client fall into something that's specified there, I nicely say: "This could mean an extra charge as it's specified in the budget I sent you. What do you think it's the best way to proceed?"

Usually the client stops making silly changes or, in the case of a cancellation, may agree to pay a fraction of the budgeted price, at least to cover the external fees like location price, makeup artist or the actors.

I hope this helps.


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 4:29:42 pm

I agree with both Steve and Fernando that's it's a bit self-defeating, especially with a regular client, to play hardball. But there are clients who will constantly squeeze both ends against the middle, with cancellations, too many revisions, and other thoughtless actions that can squeeze profits down to nothing. There has to be a way, even if it's in the fine print of the contract, to set down the rules, just in case this potential for client abuse becomes a reality.

I think that it's a fair policy, not only when submitting a contract, but also when the first shoot is being scheduled, to mention that certain other expenses are locked in two days before the shoot which can't be cancelled with less than 24 hours notice, and that if the client must cancel or delay, these expenses must be paid.

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


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Steve Martin
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 5:23:19 pm

Agreed Joe! Play "nice" with the client and hopefully they reciprocate. But some clients (i.e. grinders) will see that as an opportunity to take advantage of you. Those are the clients that you eventually have to fire and/or impose a different set of rules for.

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

http://www.OmniNewMedia.com
http://www.GreenSlateStudios.com


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Nick Griffin
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 7:15:50 pm

[Fernando Mol] "What do you think it's the best way to proceed?"

Spot on, Fernando! This simple question is the right way to approach the client to solve the problem. It throws the decision to them rather than seeming like one of your "dumb rules." You may also want to preface it with something to the effect of, "Given that on just a few hours notice I can't instantly schedule replacement work..."

I also agree with the consensus that you can't be too hard nosed on this with an existing long term client at the risk of jeopardizing future business.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:05:15 pm

This is also another reason to get a third or more up front to begin the work, so that if they cancel or delay, any pay-outs you had to make to prepare for the shoot remain covered. WHen i was doing weddings on the weekends, I had a cancellation policy of free cancellation and deposit refund if given notice 48 hours ahead, and I keep the deposit if the notice is less than 24 hours.


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Reuben Fink
Re: How do you handle canceled bookings when freelancing?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 9:04:17 pm

Thanks so much for the in depth comments. There is a lot of really good suggestions here.

OSX 10.8.4
Equipment: 2.8 ghz 8 core Intal Mac Pro 3,1 Early 2008, 20 gig of ram
Aps: CS6 Production Premium, FCP Suite, Avid Media Composer


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