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Am I wrong here?

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Greg Ball
Am I wrong here?
on Feb 14, 2017 at 5:41:28 pm

I have a potential out of town client looking to do a 3 day shoot in my area. The way I work is I sub contract my crews and equipment. We would also be building sets and renting furniture. The total price would be around $20K.

We would shoot the video and turn over all footage on the last day of the shoot.

I asked the client to sign our agreement and pay a deposit that covers my out-of-pocket costs (since I can't possibly afford be responsible for all of the costs.

My solution was to ask for a 50% deposit now, an additional 20% deposit 10 days before the shoot, and the final 20% dues at the end of the shoot and before we release the footage. I asked for all payments by credit card.

The client is unhappy with this arrangement, since her production company works on 30 day payment from her clients.

So now she's pulling out of the project. For any of you smaller production companies, how do you handle these things?

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
https://www.ballmediainnovations.com


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Nick Griffin
Re: Am I wrong here?
on Feb 14, 2017 at 9:36:27 pm

Kind of depends on how hungry you are and how long your backlog of business is. If you can afford to, walk away. If not re-negotiate the deal but you MUST have something up front.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Am I wrong here?
on Feb 15, 2017 at 3:17:12 pm

I think you did everything right. The producer's problem was she didn't get a line of credit to sustain her expenses while waiting to get paid.

Just as you would never stiff your contracted guys, but rather, pay them first, so should she have paid you first. Making you wait to get paid until she does, is asking you to be her bank, giving an interest-free loan.

Some people will cave and wait for the money. Most of them can't afford to stay in this business.


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Ned Miller
Re: Am I wrong here?
on Feb 15, 2017 at 7:43:26 pm

Timely topic Greg. My wife has been bugging me for money for the bills and I asked her, if I gave her the phone numbers and emails of all the late clients who presently owe me money, would she collect for me.

I don't feel in danger of being ripped off but this being so late is making things miserable. So I'd say if they don't have the remainder when the shoot is over, forget it. They can pressure their client for more upfront money by saying their local vendor needs it.

Good luck,

Ned

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


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Greg Ball
Thanks and Update
on Feb 16, 2017 at 8:11:00 pm

Thanks Nick, Ned and Mark for your insight and confirmation.

The client has pulled out of working with us. They sent me this email:
Release the dates and crew.
I regret that I cannot meet your payment terms.
Just not possible at this point...

I'm sorry...

Of course this is from a production company in the midwest, who operates the same way I do. It seems like they have a slow paying client. The reason I get to work with outstanding crews is because I pay them right away. Normally at the end of the shoot. The client's client certainly has the money to pay a deposit. I can't be a bank for other clients. That's how I can sleep at night.

To Nick's response, yes I really can use the work, but I can't accept a deposit for $5,000 for a $20,000 project. That would be a poor business decision.

To Ned - Though you don't feel in danger of being ripped off, people's situations change quickly. What if your client went belly up, or became sick, or had new management. I always try to have enouh deposit so I can pay any of my expenses incurred for a project. This way I never owe my crew money that I don't have.

To Mark - Thanks so much for your insight. You always have the best logical advise, and I appreciate it!

Have a good one.

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
https://www.ballmediainnovations.com


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Ned Miller
Re: Thanks and Update
on Feb 17, 2017 at 4:23:21 pm

Greg wrote:

To Ned - Though you don't feel in danger of being ripped off, people's situations change quickly. What if your client went belly up, or became sick, or had new management. I always try to have enouh deposit so I can pay any of my expenses incurred for a project. This way I never owe my crew money that I don't have.

Well...it appears now I am being ripped off! Since I responded to you I was contacted by two DPs, who are in the same boat and are owed more money than I. I don't think the client is an unethical rip off artist, rather, I think they did bankroll very large clients who became extremely slow payers, so they have a cash flow crunch and now us vendors are attacking with pitchforks and torches. I have seen this rodeo before but the others, in their twenties, are indignant and want to take legal action as soon as it's 90 days. Ahhh...the naiveté.

Little do these DPs in their 20s know that the bankruptcy lawyers are the scum of the scum. So, if the prod co is forced into bankruptcy protection because of this premature intense vendor pressure, before they can get their ARs in, The IRS get's their share first, then comes the secured creditors such as Sony, Panasonic, the auto financing company, their landlord, etc., THEN the bankruptcy lawyers have barely legal techniques to make sure their legal bills are 95% of what's left. My mom was a secretary to one when I was growing up, so I know the scumbagery. And as an adult DP I learned their ways. You can't take some emails into Small Claims Court and expect to jump ahead of these guys. After all, they're lawyers and know the ropes.

As some may know, I am easing into retirement and it does leave a bad taste in may mouth that one of my last few gigs is a no payer, but that's also the risk of being self employed. Their CFO has sworn to me that I will get paid as soon as they get their money. To begin my New Me, that's Ned 3.0, last week I deleted all my video bookmarks and moved up my hobbies. I visited today because I am getting a tire repaired. Nowadays I have all the time in the world with scattered volunteering hours. There was a post lately of a guy who is coming back from a serious illness and "wants to get back into the business". Eeeesh.... This is now the wrong biz to try to make good money in. I will, when I have time, post what I learned lately. The short version is, over the last two weeks I met with some producers and several DPs with various model cameras. I was judging personality, honesty (and the two have nothing to do with each other) to arrange commission deals for shooting and/or producing, since I want OUT. I have high SEO so leads come in, might as well do something with them. I will, when I get a chance, tell you what I (already knew) learned and was confirmed: Good shooters and producers are now offering prices about one third to half less of what I quote , and that's why I'm slow and lose bids. I never got the memo that we're now half price! Many will throw the post in just to get the shooting part and vice versa, it depends on if they are at their core a shooter or editor. Whichever side of the coin they are better at, they will reduce the cost of the other. Ever notice that? My experience is that only the most narcissistic claim they are both a great shooter AND a great editor. So...perfect timing for me I guess to ease out. I no longer keep my phone by the shower door!

I'd say, as of 10AM, 80% of all my ARs are past 30 days. Besides this teetering client, which is just $850, the others are "friends", nice clients or super large Fortune 100 companies. There's only so much hassling you can do of your client before you're considered a pest. My invoices at the large mega corps now go into The Black Hole, which I think I mentioned here. It's a Mumbai back office that the large companies use so no one knows when your check will come, and they all keep it secret that they are doing that. My subdivision is dotted with former upper management accounting execs. I suppose that and AI is killing them, but making our payments slower:

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21569571-india-no-longer-autom...

So the results of my 50' trip to my mailbox determine my mood for the rest of the day! I've maxed out my allowable nuisance calls whining about the status of my checks. You made the smart move Greg.

Later,

Mr. Miller

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


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Bob Zelin
Re: Thanks and Update
on Feb 18, 2017 at 3:34:39 pm

Hi -
while this does not address Ned's situation (and congrads on getting out of this biz finally) - I just observed two friends of my who are with a NYSE traded company (so it's a big company) - they are the head of the video department, and the head graphics guy (for a company that relies on graphics to make their living) and they both just got fired. I don't care what the excuse is - I know the reason - they make too much money, no matter how good they are, or how much experience that they have, or no matter how long they were with the company.

When I would bitch about how cheap equipment was getting, and everyone would get into this, and the rates would collapse, many geniuses would say that "it's all about your creative ability, not what equipment that you own". Well, that is total B.S. Companies care about ONE thing "how much does this cost, and how can I get this done cheaper". And if you use a top camera, and are a top DP (and apply that to any other side of our industry - editor, graphics, audio, etc.) - it does not make any difference if you are great and own the best gear. It's "how much are you going to bill me, and can I get the same job done with some young kids, with their dirt cheap equipment". And if the answer is "well, kind of" - then YOU are fired, and the young guys, who charge half your rate (or less) get the opportunity.

Because I wanted to be a musician, and I see what it's really like to be a musician (as far as supporting yourself) professionally, I see that this is what both the audio and video industry are turning into (the "professional" video industry, not the professional AV Presentation market, which is doing better than ever). But if you are "creative" - you participate in creating content (translation - your job is kind of fun) - then you are doomed. But the guy that plays back your video on an 8K Christie projector, with a massive sound reinforcement system - he will make more (with no creativity) then you will, who created the media. Gee - just like the music business.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Thanks and Update
on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:09:08 pm

Hello Bob, have you seen this? http://viddyoze.com Who needs a full time employee to make custom motion graphics? The magical cloud can do it all.


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