Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › Good Client versus Vendor video. Explains us well
- This topic has 1 reply, 7 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 6 months ago by Jennifer O’Rourke.
June 1, 2009 at 4:17 PM #43055Jennifer O’RourkeInactive
I posted this on our blog last week, but for anyone that didn’t see it, I thought I’d place it here, in the Making Money forum. It’s a video that tells the client-vendor relationship well… or maybe you’d say “lack of” relationship. It was posted on the ProVideo Coalition site.
June 1, 2009 at 7:56 PM #180385
I caught the vid last week. It was amazing to see every excuse I’ve heard so graphically portrayed. This is a strange biz in which we provide a hideously valuable service (no commercials, movies, tv shows, training videos, support for video games, sports coverage, news and on and on… and the world suddenly gets real boring) yet clients are so quick to dismiss the hardwork needed as too expensive. Why clients think after the proposal is accepted and the contracts are signed that there is still room for ‘negotiation’?
If I had a buck for everytime I’ve seen the look on a client’s face after I show them a budget proposal for their ‘Blue Sky’ idea vs. the ‘Real World’ proposal I could bailout GM! It’s also amazing how potential clients get bent when they find out how much professional production work costs. Yet, they have no problem paying their accountant $90+ an hour or their lawyer $200+ an hour and so on.
June 2, 2009 at 1:22 AM #180386EarlCMember
Though I’ve heard most of them (the comments as depicted in that video), if not all, and though I sometimes THINK I have a pretty good grasp on WHY the general consumer has such a LOW perceived value of the work done by a vast majority of the independent professional video services providers, I STILL cannot quite put my finger on, or specifically define WHY to others, or myself.
Somehow, something has caused the general consumer to NOT appreciate or understand the value of this business.
If I try to “educate” your average consumer I seem to offend him/her; if I go off on your average consumer for lack of ability to define or understand “value” he/she becomes alientated; and if I offer a compromise based on what your average consumer tells me is his/her budget the consumer STILL wants the highlights AND trim and will pay my fees if they “like” it. Seems many average consumers have taken complete leave of their senses. I wonder if it is that they don’t understand so much as it is they don’t WANT to understand.
There was a time when your average consumer felt it necessary to “justify” cheap and “brag” about expensive. There was a time when the average income person bought THINGS while the person with a higher level of income purchased services – now, like the jury, there’s NO way to predict which way they’ll go.
June 10, 2009 at 4:47 PM #180387Jennifer O’RourkeInactive
As an update to this and an update to my recent “Pro for Hire” post, I need to give y’all a laugh… at my expense.
I finally got a client that I thought I did all the right things for, and a contract, AND payment, for a program that he hoped would be a monthly show. However, after spending a “huge” amount of money, (so he thought), making this half-hour program that would showcase his hobby, he decided he didn’t want to go along with a monthly show after all, as he only sold 3 DVDs.
Fast forward two months later, and I wanted to see if he had our show linked to his site yet, and found a plea to his loyal viewers: Would anyone like to take over doing our monthly show? We’re looking for a hobbyist, just like us, with a passion for this subject, who has a video camera and will make our video for free, for the “the love of the project”. If we ever make any money on it, you’re invited to share in the profits.
The problem with hiring pros is everyone can afford a video camera nowadays, and so think that since everyone has one, anyone can shoot. Au contraire. I’ve had the lucky (or unlucky) opportunity to be one of the judges for Videomaker’s annual short video contest, and narrowing down the field to the top 10 is really very easy sometimes, as there are LOTS of people that can’t shoot or edit their way out of the proverbial paper bag… and some of these are readers of our magazine.
Anyone CAN buy a camera, and anyone CAN push that red record button and wave the camera around and capture an image. But NOT anyone can compose an interesting shot, and certainly NOT ANYONE can create the editing finessing magic. That’s what we do, and we do it so well, the average layman doesn’t see it, so doesn’t appreciate the work involved.
June 10, 2009 at 5:25 PM #180388
You hit that one square on the head. The aspect of ‘anybody can do it’ when it comes to photography, videography and art has always been a thorn in my side. And you’re right, when a professional does it you don’t see the hard work and expertise involved because we are trained to make the final product look effortless. As needed, I try to involve my clients in the different production phases as possible. Most times they get an appreciation for the depth of planning, expertise and work that gets put into making their production. Usually, when working with larger entities for clients when they change personnel overseeing the project I have to go through the whole song and dance to enlighten them on where the money is going. First thing out of many client’s mouths are ‘Well, how much is all this going to cost?’ or ‘Oh I can do that cheaper than that!’
I recently had a potential client with a small church that had been producing their own ‘little’ DVD’s. The client showed me their previous work and was so proud of the individual who had shot and created the DVD as you say ‘for the love of the project’. Dare I say it was horrible? DVD was made with the most basic of consumer grade DVD software, underexposed video shot on a 1CCD mini-dv camera, one angle only shoot shot from the back of the church with no medium shots or close ups, slide shows with underexposed photographs, poorly composed with minimal flash and graphics that looked like they were made with Super Nintendo Paint!
Yet, the client went on and on trying to convince me of how pleased he was with what had been made and tons of self-depricating comments about how ‘he couldn’t afford my services’ in an attempt to get me to do it for free. I wasn’t going to do that, but I did offer to train one of his people to do the work with what they had and how to make it look better. Of course, they would have to pay me and despite it being much cheaper to do that not to mention that whole ‘teach a man to fish’ aspect, the client couldn’t get his head or checkbook around it. Needless to say I wasn’t sorry to let that one pass.
June 10, 2009 at 7:18 PM #180389AnonymousInactive
Give up on trying to sell anything to churches. Most of the time they won’t even pay their in-house people, so the idea that they’ll pony up cash for an outsider to come in is next to nil.
I hate to admit it, but I’m contributing to that problem. I’ve been doing video for our church for a while now, using my own gear, on my own time, and not getting a dime for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t love helping them out, but it’s sad when now two years’ budgets have been passed and spent, and despite my pleadings no budget for any multimedia production has been added at all. I suppose there’s no need to buy the cow if you can get the milk for free.
June 10, 2009 at 11:38 PM #180390
One good thing about my experiences with churches and others trying to get stuff for free (including parents!) has taught me the code words for ‘I want you to work but I’m not going to pay you’.
‘This is a great project and you’ll really be able to put your passion into it.’
‘We’re really looking for a recent college graduate or student filmmaker’
‘I really can’t afford your rates, but I love your work.’
‘This is a team project and we’d really like to have you onboard.’
‘This would be a great project to add to your portfolio/demo reel.’
‘We’re all doing this as a hobby because we all love film so much.’
‘Hey, with you working on the project it will really take off….’
‘We don’t have the budget to hire you, but we’ll give you credit….’
And on and on.
Now to be fair, my company has done a few (and only a few) low budget projects. In those situations, it is clearly stated in all paperwork that nobody’s getting paid (including me) unless the rights are sold and then an equitable amount will be paid out to all parties based on an equitable rate according to the hours worked and so on after the initial funds output for the production are recovered. Until that time, unofficially all participants get full credits, copies of the final product and samples of items to be merchandised for the film (posters, hats, t-shirts, etc.) Of course, I try to throw as many paying gigs as possible to my ‘regulars’ so that when I ask for a ‘freebie’ everyone’s usually excited to do it. If you want a pro to work for free, there’d better be some ‘bennies’ in the package and don’t ask too often.
June 11, 2009 at 12:31 AM #180391D0nParticipant
Learned long ago….
“I’m not charging you $18-40,000 for the equipment I’m bringing along to do the job. I’m not charging you $20.00 for the paper I’ll print the images on, or $0.25 for the dvd I’ll burn. You don’t have to pay me what my talent and skill really is worth, because there are too many hacks out there diluting the market with substandard work and cheap prices. However, I am charging xxx amount of dollars for this project, and bringing all my equipment and skills to the project, and if you think my competetors can give you equal or better work, for less money… Best of luck to you.”
My Grandmother used to say “Getting all of half a loaf of bread, is better than getting none of a whole loaf of bread”.
And while I appreciate her wisdom, I’ve come to believe that in this business, you have to look at the whole wedding season as your loaf of bread, and rather than cut my price in half, and be working every weekend, I’d sooner see my sales cut in half, and wind up working every other weekend, and keep my price. I’ll work another job on my off days to stay afloat if I have to.
And despite the recession… it hasn’t come to that. So sales are down…next year will be better, and I won’t have to deal with “You shot my cousins Wedding for HALF THIS AMOUNT!”. when the economy picks up.
June 11, 2009 at 1:54 AM #180392AnonymousInactive
“Though I’ve heard most of them (the comments as depicted in that
video), if not all, and though I sometimes THINK I have a pretty good
grasp on WHY the general consumer has such a LOW perceived value of the
work done by a vast majority of the independent professional video
services providers, I STILL cannot quite put my finger on, or
specifically define WHY to others, or myself.
Somehow, something has caused the general consumer to NOT appreciate or understand the value of this business.”
$15-$20 for a dvd, a little more for blu-ray, 100 dollars a month for every channel on cable or satellite and you charge how much to make a video? the problem is consumers confuse one type of media for another, and even further don’t understand why the “real professionals'” work is cheaper.
June 11, 2009 at 6:24 PM #180393
“… consumers confuse one type of media for another, and even further don’t
understand why the “real professionals'” work is cheaper.”
You’re on the right track with this. Potential clients unfamiliar with the production biz have a vague understanding of how Hollywood works in that, a $200M movie costs me $19.99 at Wal-Mart. Forget all of how the $200M went into paying for getting the film made and marketed, they only ‘see’ the end result of a $20 DVD. The fact of a client wanting a project produced in effect turns them into an Executive Producer responsible for the financing of the project also eludes them as they still only see their idea and what they think will be a $20 DVD. I’m sorry Mr. or Ms. Q. Public, this isn’t Hollywood and that initial DVD may end up costing you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars depending on the scope of your ‘idea’.
In initial meetings, I never discuss money despite potential clients attempts to show me ‘how tough they are at negotiating a deal’. You tell me what your idea is and we do a ‘blue sky’ session where the sky’s the limit and you can ‘dance the light fantasitc’ all you want. Then we do a ‘real world’ session and we seriously discuss your ideas around the level of your intended budget. Once I get them ‘down to earth’, then I’ll start discussing the potential costs of producing the project. If their eyes haven’t glazed over by then, I’ll submit a proposal in a few days outlining the prospective budget. If they’re still onboard, we do up a contract based upon the proposed budget.
There are positives and negatives doing it that way, but the greatest benefit is it clears out the ‘suckers’ ASFAP. My co’ got nailed once by a deadbeat and it almost put us out of business. This way only the serious (and fully funded) hang around long enough to go forward.
June 11, 2009 at 7:29 PM #180394AnonymousInactive
This is one of the reasons I keep video sales (for graduations and events, etc…) off of my business website. I don’t want people coming to me saying “Why are your charging me $4000 for this project when you’re selling this graduation video for $20?!?” At that point, no matter how much you try to explain that twenty bucks multiplied by 200 families equals $4000, and then they still had to pay a fee on top of that, in their minds, you’re doing them wrong.
June 12, 2009 at 4:40 PM #180395Jennifer O’RourkeInactive
‘This is a great project and you’ll really be able to put your passion into it.’
‘Hey, with you working on the project it will really take off….’
‘We don’t have the budget to hire you, but we’ll give you credit….
Composite1… your short one-line comments have now made it to my Glory Wall! I’m a small-time producer, I don’t have the gear or the time to be great, or high-end, because I DO have a full-time job doing something else. But I have 30 years of expertise behind me, and provide a clean, well-produced product. All I really expect is some respect for my work, and a bit of compensation, yet I keep getting myself into positions where I get burned. Most of this is my own fault, as I am bad at marketing myself. So I thought this story below was kind of funny…
Out of the blue, yesterday I was presented with a $500 check for a video I did a year ago, that I was told, after the fact, that they had no budget for, sorry. I had no agreement on paper, just a verbal, “I’ll do it for $500, which includes a final DVD with menus”. I didn’t factor in that I was going to have to shoot 3 full days, two of them 10 hours long, or that I’d have to upgrade my editing software and replace my DVD cover printer because my original one failed, (after forking over oodles for new cartridges thinking that was the problem). I didn’t factor in that I had to buy newspeakers and half a dozen miniDV tapes.I certainly didn’t factor in my time.
After handing over the master DVD along with 2 copies, I was told they were under the impression that I was donating my time for the benefit of the organization. (Gotta love beneficent clubs that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, but expect their members to offer their services for free.) I pointed out, then, that they DO pay their legal member to do legal work for them, that they do pay their accountant member to account, and that they do pay their webmaster to master the web. Their season is over, and they must either have had a change of heart, or found some funding, because they handed me a check that I almost refused, out of pride. But I have my eye on a new tripod head…
June 12, 2009 at 7:53 PM #180396
“I pointed out, then, that they DO pay their legal member to do legal
work for them, that they do pay their accountant member to account, and
that they do pay their webmaster to master the web.”
Thanks for promoting some of the BS comments I’ve heard over the years to your ‘Glory Wall’. Maybe someone else will see them and heed their warnings. Your comment really sums up the BS mentality many clients have about what we do. Everyone in business understands why you have an accountant (pay now, save later), why you need a webmaster (must maintain presence on web to attract money) but for because any jack@$$ can go out an shoot a picture or video, they can’t understand why they should pay their photographers and videographers. There is this weird disconnect that is lost somewhere in their minds. Nobody wants to hire your cousin to do your business taxes unless they’re a pro. Nobody wants some hobbyist doing their high-end business website, yet they are more than willing to turn over their photographic and video needs to non-pros in a heartbeat. Then they can’t understand why their final product looks like ‘shineola’.
Now, clients who understand all of this are treasures and should be treated as such. The only drawback with them (if you can call it that) is everytime you do a project for them the bar gets raised. Should you find yourself unable to outmatch your latest work, you run the risk of losing said clients.
Concerning your tale of whoa (as in stop doing that), don’t take it the wrong way but churches, charities and volunteer organizations suck as clients. Because they are non-profit in nature, their job is to bring in money to further their goals (like we all don’t do that.) They’ll pay for things they feel are important to keeping them operating, but will expect everyone else (including you) to volunteer your time and services. Now, if you understand that going in and have your ‘anti-stinger pad’ on your back (see frog and scorpion fable) and still want to do the work, then do it under the auspices of full control over the ownership of the final product. They aren’t going want to hear that, but you stress since they are not paying you that full payment means full ownership. No pay, no ownership. You’ll be happy to give them ‘permission’ to use it to promote their cause, whatever but if they make any money off of it, you get a predetermined cut of each sale. Most outfits will head for the hills when you lay it out like that. Any that stay and agree, get it in writing and feel free to do the work.
I tell students all the time that this is one of the very few businesses that if you do the work right one time, you’ll get paid forever (ask George Lucas about that.) The hard part is not allowing yourself to get screwed out of that ‘one time’.
June 12, 2009 at 10:20 PM #180397AnonymousInactive
What a great video that was, this is what we go through every time we trying to book a wedding. Why don’t people understand that production process is actual work and it takes huge amount of time to create 3o cek spot.
Thank you for this wonderful via it made me laugh.
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