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    Client unable to collaborate with my business. Need advice
    #1
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    Hello,

    I was offered to create a short film about a history center where performances are held. I met with the person and we agreed in person that I would wait to hear more of the details and I would send them a contract. Person told me she wanted me to film one performance before contract was finalized. I agreed under the terms that it might not be used for the final film due to their being no contract. I have in an email she was okay with this 4 weeks ago. I have yet to hear from her on the contract, releases etc that we agreed in person to finalize and she emailed me this morning asking where I was Friday and complained that I missed a performance. I had already filmed the first one so she should know there would be no second time until contract was finalized. Now she's mad that I didn't show up and emailed me back telling me "I will sue your ass for refusing to film what we agreed on" This is driving me crazy and I'm not sure what to do as she has yet to respond on the contract etc I sent her.


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    #2
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    I don't know what you have invested but this "client" seems like one to avoid. Refusing or ignoring discussed a contract is a big red flag in my book. Plus, you met the discussed terms by filming a performance already. If you work with them require at least 50% up front money or walk away. I have lost faith in some people over the years.


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    #3
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    IMO, not worth working with this client. Maybe the situation could be worked out, but is it worth the time, stress, and risk?

    Perhaps send them a calm email spelling out what you just said here, but you know; in careful language, and then say something like, "At this point, I think it's best that we not enter into a contract to work on this project."

    You could Google "How to fire a client" to find some form-letter/script suggestions on how to approach all of this.

    If the group is powerful, well-funded, and/or vindictive, consider consulting a lawyer.

    Good luck!
    ----------
    Jim Feeley
    POV Media


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    #4
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    You don't want to have a relationship with a client who's first approach to resolving a problem/misunderstanding is to threaten to sue you. Since there was no response regarding the contract, there is no contract. Move on.


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    #5
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    there is an apparent sharp increase in video demand coexistent with an inverse decrease in basic knowledge of how to work with a professional or treat them civilly.
    Pudgy bearded camera guy
    http://mcbob.tv


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    #6
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    I'd notify my lawyer and then send a polite response stating that we never had a contract for additional performances and therefor you did not record the missed performance. I agree with the 50% upfront as well, they are going to rip you off. You'll need a nice written and signed contract before doing any work, while verbal contracts can be used in court, it is a lot harder.

    I'd also file for copyright on the performance that you did record, the laws have changed a little but they still require that you files a copy before you can litigate. Lawful Masses (Leonard French) did a video on the new law recently, and the new way of handling copyright claims that will streamline the process and make it easier for trolls to extort money from people (and real cases to get finished faster).


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    #7
    Resident Preditor mcgeedigital's Avatar
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    Fire the client
    Matt Gottshalk - Director/ Dp/ and Emmy Award Winning Editor
    Producer, Digital Creative for the United States Postal Service


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    #8
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    I wouldn't work with someone who makes that sort of threat, move on. It doesn't matter if they would win or not, because they can cost you a lot regardless.

    I think there's a lesson here. Never remove the burden from the client to make something happen promptly. In the future, YOU CANNOT FILM UNTIL YOU HAVE A CONTRACT *AND* A DOWN PAYMENT. At all. No exceptions. It muddies the waters.

    Look - I'm not saying there are never exceptions to this, but it is a very good general rule of thumb. You started filming with no contract and no payment, what exactly is the motivation for the client now to hurry and get you a contract and payment? It is amazing how fast a client can move if they know they will miss the filming of an event if you do not have payment received and a signed contract. Likewise, it's amazing how slow and busy a client can be once you've started production without $$ and paperwork. This should be a proverb.

    You performing work, and delivering final work, is the only leverage you really have with certain clients. Unless you really trust someone, why give up your leverage to rely on their goodwill? That's how one ends up in situations like this, and believe me, it costs you much more than it costs them.


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    #9
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    Remember, beyond that your contract should specify other things to protect you. It is NOT just about "I'll do this shoot and this work and you'll pay me X amount".

    It covers things that protect you such as, if you miss a shot and it costs the client damages because they don't have the shot, are you liable to reimburse them for their damages? NO! There is limited liability in your agreement (or there should be).

    What does the project entail? Unlimited revisions? What are the limits on your time? Who owns the footage - you are them - and what are the license terms? How long are you responsible to keep backups?

    What happens if the client's negligence damages your gear? What happens in the event of a client cancelling last second and needing to reschedule, do the terms of your agreement mean you committed to film the event no matter when it is, or that you committed to a specific day and time for said event? And if they reschedule at the last second, do they owe you payment for the cancelled event and need to pay more for the second event, or are you on the hook to film the second event at the new time (which lets say you can't make?) and now refund them money or get into a fight?

    Look, there are reasons that you cannot ETHICALLY begin work without having terms clearly laid out. It's not fair to the client. It's also not fair to you.

    No contract. No work. PERIOD.


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