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Picture Editing Contract Template

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Alex Brueckner
Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 6:23:39 pm

Hi folks,

I've been an editor for a long time now, but generally work for people who draw up their own contracts. I'm about to be in a position where I will need to draw up my own contract for a short film, and I haven't had much luck finding appropriate templates or info online anywhere. Plenty of crew contracts/deal memos are to be found, but when it comes to Editing, I'm coming up short. I'd be very appreciative if anyone has anything they could send as a guideline, or advice on where to look.

Thanks to anyone who can help!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 6:47:51 pm

How about this blast from the past?

https://forums.creativecow.net/thread/17/865818


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Alex Brueckner
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:09:32 pm

Hahaha, that is exactly what I am aiming to avoid!


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Richard Herd
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 9:00:13 pm
Last Edited By Richard Herd on Mar 9, 2015 at 9:02:41 pm

To be real, there is no actual market for short films, meaning the producer/financier will not make any investment back. I do these projects as follows. Number 1: Do I like and trust this person and or the project? If so, then I will work at a discount, but still get paid real money. That's a negotiation. Number 2: how much footage is there? If there is 1 minute of footage, then it will take 1 minute to just watch it, and I haven't even made a cut. Number 3: I work like this Assemble Edit, client review, and I get paid, or I don't move on. Number 4. Rough Cut, client review, I get paid, or I don't move on. Number 5. Final Cut/Audio/Color: client review, I get paid.

Things can work out well. Won an award for best comedy short doing it this way. No contract but very real conversations and lots of trust, and we used the money for a pretty decent Christmas :)

Often times these microbudget projects are deferred compensation, so don't do that, ever. And when they ask why not say "Editing is not the most important part of the movie. IT IS THE MOVIE! If you want me to finish your movie, then those are my terms."

Also I just give the footage and project files and drive (the whole thing, "here you go") back because honestly I don't want them. I do keep a copy of the finished export though.

Oh yeah: that person also needs to buy a drive that's fast and needs to dump all the footage onto it, and then also keep a copy of the footage at their house. I also upload my project files to google drive, so if something goes horribly wrong, then I can always grab the latest file and get the footage back. The client needs to understand also that they carry the risk of hard drive failure not you.

Good luck! Have fun!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 9:57:46 pm

Do not give away project files.
Do not give away project files.
Do not give away project files.
Do not give away project files.
Do not give away project files.

That is proprietary "secret sauce", like giving away your special family recipe. Do that, and they can re-edit as much as they like, without you. The idea, from a business sense, is to have them come back to you for more work, and for any changes. Why would you ever give up or give for free, the very thing that forces them to come back to you? If they insist on having those files too, they're basically telling you this is a one time only job and they aren't coming back, so bill extra for giving away the secret sauce. Call it tuition for training the guy or gal they picked to replace you.


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Richard Herd
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:16:49 pm
Last Edited By Richard Herd on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:22:30 pm

I know that is a refrain often repeated around here, but the risk/reward scenario is absurd for microbudget short films. Here's what actually happened/happens: The client knows who did what and how well it turned out, so when they need something they call me back. In other situations, the Avid project file is the deliverable.

Micro budget short film is a one-time thing. Once it's done, it's in the Withoutabox.com stuffs, and there is no more editorial.


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Scott Cumbo
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 1:21:49 am

I never got that "don't give the project file" thing.
If I was a client and someone refused to give me
The project file of something I paid you to cut, I would never work with you again out of general principle.

As an editor though, I would just give it if asked, and if they
Want to go somewhere else for revisions than good luck because obviously they weren't happy with my work.

Scott Cumbo
Lead Editor
Bellator MMA/Spike TV


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walter biscardi
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 1:41:30 am

[Scott Cumbo] "I never got that "don't give the project file" thing.
If I was a client and someone refused to give me
The project file of something I paid you to cut, I would never work with you again out of general principle. "


No professionals I know give the project files to the client as part of a standard freelance contract unless you are working in their facility on their equipment. That's your work. The client is paying me for the finished master and all the raw materials. Not the project file.

If the client wants the project files, it's an extra $1000 or extra $150/hour whichever is more.

It's not that they can take your work elsewhere for revising because they're unhappy with your work. They can simply use your work as a template for someone cheaper to come along and replicate what you did with other projects. That's the main reason we don't give project files away and never have in 12 years of business.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Craft and Career Advice & Training from real Working Creative Professionals

Blog Twitter Facebook


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Mark Suszko
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 3:05:02 am

Walter gets it. Giving away the Project Files for nothing extra is like hiring your own sca- um, "replacement worker" to undercut your price and leave you without more work. You're hurting your own bottom line when you give it away for free, and you're also telling clients you're replaceable, in 72-point type. Which, if you like working at any one place just once, is okay, I guess. But it's easier to keep a happy customer and their repeat business, than to keep going out and finding and developing new ones. There's only one reason a client would need a copy of your project Files, and that's to make changes or additions to what you created, without your direct input, or the years of study and practice you undertook to be able to do what you do. And without paying you. If you wanna teach other people to replace you, you should charge tuition.


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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 8:19:14 am

In all fairness to Scott, if you are working in a large scale broadcast environment, you wouldn't have a choice. Both in regards making the edits available to promo and distribution department. Or the overnight team coming in to continue on your job.

However, as a production company, I will only ever deliver the final masters. We had an example recently on a corporate video where something inappropriately (not rude, racist or otherwise) was said on camera whilst setting up the shot. That clip in the hands of the wrong person, within an organization, could have cost our "talent" their job - or certainly landed them in hot water. So the reasons for not sharing the project data is much more than professional pride and not wanting competition. It also works as protection for our client(s).

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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Todd Terry
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 2:43:15 pm

I'm just piling on to what other people have said here, but not giving away project files for free is SOP virtually universally in our business...

As for "I would never work with you again out of general principle"...

To give a couple of very exaggerated examples...

If you bought a GM car (or whatever brand), would you refuse to buy another one if they balked at giving you all the schematics and CAD files to build your own from scratch?

Do you refuse to eat at KFC because they won't tell you what the "eleven herbs and spices" are? Same with Coca-Cola and its super-secret formula?

If you hire someone to lay tile, do you insist that the installer teach yow how to do it yourself before he leaves?

When eating in a restaurant, do you expect the chef to give you the recipe so you can make it yourself next time?

Of course not.

Project files are a separate deliverable... one that comes with a price. Under most contracts, when you pay for a project you are paying for the finished work... period... unless other arrangements have been made in advance.

Some people are ok with including some source material (such as camera raw footage) as part of deliverables (we are not), but project files themselves... never.

T2

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



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Richard Herd
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 3:40:23 pm

[Mads Nybo Jørgensen] "the reasons for not sharing the project data is much more than professional pride and not wanting competition"

Well said.

And that reminds me that we should make a microbudget short film about that. The stories of corporate clients on camera full-on slandering their bosses. OMG. I had a sound bite from political figure that was awesome!


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Richard Herd
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 3:36:31 pm

[Mark Suszko] "There's only one reason a client would need a copy of your project Files, and that's to make changes or additions to what you created, without your direct input, or the years of study and practice you undertook to be able to do what you do"

In context of this thread, the reason to get rid of the project file (and everything else) is because the movie is done. When the movie is done, and it's being marketed (vis-a-vis withoutabox.com), then there are no more revisions, changes, additions. Another way of saying this is this stuff is taking up room that I want to store other stuff on, so I give it back. Microbudget short films are an entirely different beast than a retainer-style vendor/client relationship. In other contexts, it's really important that the project file is delivered so that the other parts of post production can get to their stuff exactly. Perhaps we should split hairs on what a project file is and is not. If I send an XML you still have my cuts. What exactly is the secret sauce not being delivered, some color correction, some JavaScript in After Effects, some side-chain compression, the j-cut perfection?

A couple other points:

1. A work for hire agreement means everything, so the original agreement needs to negotiate the price for the project file from the start.

2. By not delivering the project file, then we guarantee the new editor will have to rebuild and will therefore get paid more money also, and that is a reasonable place to begin discussing the fees for the project file.

Above a short-film deliverable was discussed, but in an advertising situation, supposing we are creating some ads for a business, the project files and associated media have a very short shelf life.

Learning to negotiate is tough anyway, and in a competitive situation, the risk of losing the client before it even starts is real, when the client says it's a work for hire agreement, and we want to keep the project files. It takes some time to get that kind of juice, and while it's wise not to leave money on the table, it's also wise to get paid and not lose a deal over the project files.


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Scott Cumbo
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 15, 2015 at 4:53:53 am

That's the main difference in perspective, I always work at facilities. And have been lucky to always have long standing clients.
But here is an example where it can work to your advantage.... We use a freelance Gfx designer, one time we needed a bunch of titles in the same style that he's done for us in the past, but the budget wouldn't let us hire him again on that project. He played ball, gave us the project files, we created the titles and he still gets all of our work. Not everyone is looking to F you, a lot are, but not everyone. And I say that as a born and raised guy from queens, NY.

To each there own.

Scott Cumbo
Lead Editor
Bellator MMA/Spike TV


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Richard Herd
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 13, 2015 at 3:13:27 pm

The point is that you have an additional negotiable income stream.

This is an interesting read. https://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/335/72936


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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:02:20 pm

[Richard Herd] "To be real, there is no actual market for short films, meaning the producer/financier will not make any investment back."

So true.

More to the point, why are you having to draw up the contract, and not the production? Should this not be covered by the producer?

Although that there are many templates out there, the best one for a short is to keep it simple.

Remember to indemnify yourself against destroyed footage and missed deadlines.

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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Richard Herd
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:17:44 pm
Last Edited By Richard Herd on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:18:38 pm

[Mads Nybo Jørgensen] "keep it simple"


Simple as cash on the barrel head ;)


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Alex Brueckner
Re: Picture Editing Contract Template
on Mar 10, 2015 at 4:26:55 pm

It's a situation where this is not a professional production, and I sense it will be a handshake type deal. I wouldn't touch this project unless there was a contract, because it's the kind of thing that could easily spiral out of control without writing to back it up.

That being said, I think I'm going to pass on this project for the above reasons. I wanted to take on a short since I have the time, but this one doesn't seem worth the potential hassle and loss of availability.

Thanks to everyone who replied! There is some good advice in here so I'm going to mark it down for the next time.


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