Do you charge client for stock footage?
I do freelance editing work which often heavily relies on stock video and music. My usual model is to use the stock clips I like best (watermarked) in the rough cut/animatic and try to gather alternatives at other price points wherever needed, in case the client feels the price for stock is too much. Then, before finalizing the fine cut, I tell the client the current bill for stock and get it approved before finishing. But I do my best to keep from using anything I don't love to see in the finished piece.
I now am about to create a trial video for a series which I'm being considered for. Again, heavy use of stock. The client has said they've never had a video producer charge for stock, that it's always been included in the price. But each project I do is so individually unique that I can't imagine being able to predict the price range precisely enough to include the cost of stock in the price. The same seems true for this series. This particular organization happens to have a membership to a stock site, so they've offered for me to use it. I'm not familiar with it, and I don't want to agree only to realize that the quality isn't what I want, and I'll be stuck making work I'm not happy with.
They've already said that the higher end of my per-video estimate is way too much for them to pay for the entire series, and that if I keep it to the lower end then it's okay. I usually take this as a red flag. So maybe this client isn't worth taking. However, the series is very interesting to me and it's a client with good connections and future work for me if it works out.
What would you do?
How do you normally account for the price of stock?
--Ilana Ellis Klein
[Ilana Ellis] "The client has said they've never had a video producer charge for stock"
Then they haven't done very much of this. Stock, especially if it is third-party footage that the editor has to go and purchase, is always billed... obviously.
[Ilana Ellis] "This particular organization happens to have a membership to a stock site, so they've offered for me to use it."
That's not unheard of. I'm actually working with a client right now that has a Shutterstock account, and we do exactly what you described. We edit with comp files and once we figure out which images or footage we want, we shoot a list to the client and they grab the files for us. That in itself is not a wild or unique thing. BUT if your presumed client's account is with some obscure or poor source, then it might not help you.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Exactly what Todd said above. Here's a couple other items:
• Some very large companies want me to use their stock footage and royalty free music memberships because they want to be the "rights holder on record of the license." They are very concerned about being sued, in fact, I sometimes have to sign a contract with them that I will be the one responsible if there is a rights problem, and that scares me, so I'm fine by using their membership plus there's no arguing about the cost of stock later.
• When they say their previous producers did not charge, to me that means they buried it in the overall estimate. An example would be if the producers have a yearly membership to a source like Pond 5, the all you can eat buffet, they may just bump the estimate up a couple of hundred to cover it, as in: "You can have any stock and music you desire as long as it's from Pond 5". Some clients enjoy helping in the search, makes them feel they're having a creative input.
I have noticed while walking around conventions and trade shows during my down time that there is a trend towards stock only videos with heavy text treatment for corporate videos, catchy eye candy that works with no audio. Not good for a live action shooter such as myself.
[Ned Miller] "Some clients enjoy helping in the search, makes them feel they're having a creative input.
Personally this makes me NUTS and I avoid giving even the chance for this kind of "creative input" whenever and wherever possible. I like the fact that llanca is trying to keep control of the quality.
Personally this makes me NUTS and I avoid giving even the chance for this kind of "creative input" whenever and wherever possible.
At the start of a project, I usually will do the searches, but if I keep getting rejected, I send them links and instructions on how to search and save their stock footage choices. There are only so many times I can be told that this shot or that isn't what they have in mind.
One problem with stock we have is once we buy it and charge client A for it. Clients B through Z usually end up getting a free ride..."oh remember that one shot we used in that video 2 years ago...pull that from stock and use it here." Does anyone charge for stock footage that they purchased for Client A, and then use it client D's video?
Johnny Cuevas, Editor
"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.
[John Cuevas] " Does anyone charge for stock footage that they purchased for Client A, and then use it client D's video?"
Absolutely. We do that all the time. Often it's not as much as the clip's full cost the first time around, but we do charge something. And we make sure we don't use the same footage for competing clients or for airing in the same broadcast markets.
Also, we only do that (or re-use footage period) if we have the rights to do so... it just depends on what usage rights were purchased when initially acquiring the stock. In some cases it is allowed, and in some it is not.
We do exactly the same thing with other rights-purchased assets, such as music tracks.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.