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Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?

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Chris Campbell
Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 10:13:45 am

Hello Creative Cow,

I'm a wedding videographer who's just applied to this one wedding videography company. They sent me a document to sign and 95% of it is exactly what I'm expecting.

But, there's one policy in there pertaining to 'Videographer Negligence' (IE I don't show up for a booked wedding, or don't keep the company informed properly of days I can't work (the latter is a possible issue with my work schedule as it's made weekly)). If I fail to uphold this, they say the videographer would be responsible for a reimbursement of $5000+ dollars. This to me screams red flag but admittedly I'm relatively new to the industry. Further adding to my doubts is my state of residence was not listed in their list of market states.

This could be me being paranoid, but if this was a scam, they could purposefully book weddings I would not be able to shoot and then charge me for negligence.

Nothing has been signed yet. I was hoping to get a little more understanding about this before I committed to anything.

Any help would be appreciated.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 5:58:37 pm

Flip the script for a moment: You're the owner. You've booked an expensive wedding and then at the last minute your staffer flakes on you and is a no-show. The bridezilla is going to sue the pants off of you. If you don't have some kind of insurance policy to cover this, the next place to get the money becomes the crew that left you in the lurch.

Back in the shrouded mists of time, when I did weddings, I had a network of "go-to" guys that could fill in for me or to whom I would give referrals to gigs I could not accept, and vice-a-versa, just for such situations. I shot multi-cam so that I had a hot running spare in case one camera went down. I had redundant audio capture schemes between hardwired and wireless mics. I had spare tapes, spare batteries and ran AC power where I could. I did my best not to tempt Murphy's Law.

The only point I'd differ with regarding the contract, is that the absent or defective shooter only pays actual damages, that is, the cost of the package, plus a limited amount of any legal fees incurred. There has to be a reasonable cut-off.

As the shooter, people are trusting the most important day of their lives to you to capture, WITHOUT FAIL. That's what you're selling. There's no do-overs. The barn only burns down one time. Are you fully, I mean FULLY prepared to be able to get the shots, no matter what happens? This not only means additional back-up gear, but back-up PEOPLE as well.


At my own wedding, the still photographer told us initially he would be our shooter, but later said he had a date conflict: "However, I'm sending you my BEST GUY".

Well, his BEST GUY showed up with only one large-format camera, the (single) lens for which promptly broke as he arrived, so, no large-format wide shots of the wife in her wedding gown at the church or reception. His only back-up camera was a 35mm, which would still have worked, but he didn't pack a wedding's worth of 35mm film for it! Thank goodness a bunch of my guests were themselves photographers, who either took their own great shots and sent them to us, or lent MY BEST GUY some of their own personal fresh rolls, in the church, so we had *some* stills coverage.

After the honeymoon, when we found out what happened, the original photographer ( the Boss of My BEST GUY) apologized, refunded us the entire package, gave us all his negs, and offered to do a free sitting with the wife and I dressed in our wedding outfits again... but of course, without all the people who had been there that day. I was feeling too happy as a newlywed to really give it to the guy, plus a re-created photo just wouldn't have felt the same... and his deal seemed fair, so I let him off the hook. (30-odd years later, I kinda wish I had let him do those re-takes, just because my wife deserves to have some great full-body shots of how smoking hot she looked that day)

My over-belabored point being:

Event shooting, particularly weddings, is SERIOUS BUSINESS. If you are unwilling to be over-prepared for every eventuality, you really have no business asking people to put their trust in you. This is one reason good shooters cost what seems like a lot of money; it "seems" like too much -until shiat goes down, and you find out if the guy can save the gig or not. No matter what. That's part of what you are paying for.


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Chris Campbell
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 7:57:25 pm

Your points are very well made. I am ready to jump into the industry, and am fully equipped to do so. I just wanted to be sure this was a common practice before I signed anything.

I understand the gravity of what I'm shooting. I'm just used to smaller businesses with looser rules so this was very different from what I'm used to.

But you have a very valid point and I appreciate the answer.


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Cody Walters
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 8:06:47 pm

Mark is right on with the gravity of the event. This company just wants to cover themselves in case of your negligence.

[Chris Campbell] "This could be me being paranoid, but if this was a scam, they could purposefully book weddings I would not be able to shoot and then charge me for negligence. "

I would expect that once you sign on as a contractor, they will inquire your availability for the date and would confirm location. That would be your time to access if you are able to shoot that wedding. I wouldn't worry too much, but at least ask what their workflow is when it comes to new bookings.

Cody Walters
Director of Photography, Producer
https://www.linkedin.com/in/codywalters/





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Chris Campbell
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 9:55:57 pm

That sounds very logical. As I said, I'm a bit new to the industry so I merely wanted to be sure I wasn't being scammed.

Thanks!


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Ned Miller
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 19, 2017 at 10:45:03 pm

Well Chris, I feel the penalties are very mild. If you didn't show up to my daughter's wedding, the police would never find your body.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Bob Cole
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 22, 2017 at 4:55:01 am

This is a very interesting post. The replies are correct about the gravity of the situation. We've probably all encountered free-lancers who failed to show up for a shoot (once, because they never get a second call). OTOH, there could be circumstances beyond your control which would make it impossible for you to do the job (e.g. appendectomy).

So I would read the contract very carefully, to make sure that a serious illness (or other circumstance beyond your control, e.g. blizzard, civil unrest, car accident, flight cancellation, close family tragedy) will not also result in a financially crippling lawsuit.

Does anyone know of a contract which protects both parties in this situation?

I am not in the wedding market, but for absolutely mission-critical work, I like to be on-site, with all gear accounted for, one day ahead of schedule. For a location wedding, before I signed a contract like yours, I would definitely build that into the bid.

Good luck and please let us know how you resolve this one.

Bob C


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Chris Campbell
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 22, 2017 at 8:10:18 am

Upon more thorough reading of the contract and doing some deeper digging into the company itself, I decided to give the opportunity a pass. It was not for fear of not being able to do the work mind you, but a million and one red flags were showing up in the contract, the company's reputation, and so forth.

Thank you everyone who responded to this. Your advice was very enlightening. I now feel better prepared to apply somewhere more reputable. Have a nice day!


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Bob Cole
Re: Wedding Videography Negligence = $$$ Reimbursement? Is this legal?
on Jan 22, 2017 at 4:00:29 pm

A savvy businessman, who LOVED making deals and starting new enterprises, told me once that the best deal he ever made was "ALL the ones I passed up."


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