Non-technical, client relationship advice needed

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    • #88887

      I’m editing a music video for a band (about 100 hours so far at $0/hr) and feel like I need some tips from the professional community in regards to the actual collaboration part. I think it’s safe to say the video won’t be sweeping the oscars, but I’m looking for lessons from this experience. Sorry if this gets too whiney, but the following issues are quite frustrating to me and I was wondering if you guys/girls can relate:

      1- my friend is in the band, makes saying “no” a little awkward

      2 -they shot the footage themselves, but its very amateur (even to me). Lots of shaky cam, poor blocking, mostly one take, etc etc etc

      3- all the footage is green screen, making all backgrounds and animations to be done post production and…

      4- they expected it to be done really fast despite all the stabilization, effects and animations that had to be done in post production

      5- despite poor quality of their footage, the lead members consider themselves experts because they took a video class

      6- band insists on putting end credits at the end of the video. Not necessarily a no-no, but it seems like they really just want their names on the screen (“Directed by Dave, Produced by Dave, Written and conceived by Dave, etc)

      7- feedback is ambiguous (“more stuff please”) and delayed: first rough cut meets their approval. Two weeks later, they want the exact same thing completely changed.

      So any thoughts? Anything helps, even critiques of me!

      Thanks in advance…

    • #213165

      Is this the kind of thing I should expect? Is this normal?

    • #213169

      That seems like a crappy project. What will you gain in return? It seems that you’ll get nothing out of the collaboration project. Just by rendering your service alone for “free” is a big sacrifice for you, yet you’re not getting any credits or anything at all. I recommend you drop the project and instead dedicate your time for more important matters that will value your worth as a video editor.

    • #213182

      The first step in becoming a professional is developing the ability to say “no,” and the willingness to walk away from a project.

      You’re involved in a can’t win situation; you’re being jerked around by several people and relationships and have no control over the situation. Here’s what I would suggest: tell the band that you’re finished, that there’s nothing more you can do and that you’re unwilling to spend more time making changes to the project. They’ve approved the rough cut and that’s what you’re going to deliver.

      In the future, on the band’s projects, or any other project for that matter, say you’ll do their video’s for $XXX per performance. It doesn’t need to be much at first, but with this you’re now entered into a business transaction. Since this is now a business, have a contract that spells out exactly how this is all going to work: what you will do, what the time-line will be, under what circumstances and to what extent changes to the rough cut can/will be made. The contract doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it must spell out exactly what your obligation will be. This way there will be no recriminations in the future; both you and your clients will know what’s expected.

      Under no circumstances release any of your work until you’ve been paid! And don’t associate your name with any of the work — i.e., nothing about you in the end credits — unless it’s of a quality that you’re proud to call your own.

      In the end, the band may be surprised by the “new you,” and your friend, who is taking advantage of this friendship, may get upset. Still, walk away from this gig; there’s nothing in it for you as things now stands except continuing aggravation and frustration. If, as you say, the video quality is terrible, little you can do will provide you with useful examples of your work on an audition reel.

    • #213186

      I have some experience in this area. I have found that working for friends can be done (most of the time, not always), but it makes the situation more difficult and tricky. Jack (earlier answer) made a lot of good points. One point I would definitely underscore is that you work for ‘some cost’ to the client. Even if it is a small amount. You need to assign a value to your work so that the client assigns a value to your work! If you have one set package price – for no matter how long the project takes, or worse – no price at all, the change requests will never end! You will never be finished with the project – they can keep coming back for more free changes forever – and you will feel obligated to do them! You may decide to charge by the hour, or set a package price with the contract or terms of what the client gets for the package price. Changes beyond the stated terms can be made, but come at an extra cost. Then the client will be in the same place as everyone else in life – if I want more, it will cost me more! That brings the situation into a place that is more reasonable for both parties (both sides have ‘skin in the game’). If you don’t set some terms and costs, the project will eventually end with hard feelings and regrets on both sides…

    • #213248

      Glad you got this “freebie” out of your hair. All of the advice given you heretofore is very good, and worth noting. The only thing I can add is to remind yourself, that if YOU don’t value your time and talent, neither will anyone else. Besides, would this band play your birthday party free???


    • #213173

      well you’re right I wish I was getting paid, but I’m doing this because I’m an amateur and there’s still a lot I have to learn before I start charging. To be honest, if they were willing to pay they would probably just hire a professional, which I am not. I’m doing this for the experience and to build a portfolio. I’ve made my own videos on youtube, but eventually I’ll need to learn how to collaborate with other people or artists. While I wish I was getting paid, the money isn’t really my issue. I’m just wondering how normal the other issues are when video producer or editors work with musicians.

    • #213181

      It’s really fine if you don’t get paid for this project. Just as you said, I get that you need experience to build your portfolio and reputation as a video editor. The credits would’ve been fine but it seems even that you’re not getting it.

      Have you tried taking the path as a freelancer? I think it would be a better option. You’ll have to interact with different clients and artists (either big or small project) and build your portfolio and experience, rather than enduring this painful project.

    • #213239

      Thanks for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully Jack. You make a lot of great points, a testament to the value of forums like this.

      I finished the project just before Christmas (or at least I called it finished) once it was close enough to done and the video made some sense. Perhaps predictably some last minute ideas came in for more changes and alterations, but even timid little me backed off doing anything else. I was done with it. I’m glad I did it in some sense; I learned a lot about editing and about my own shortcomings; I’m proud of some parts of it, but the reality is that the video came out bit of a hodgepodge mess with some parts left slightly unfinished. Maybe appropriate for my level of experience and to their level of commitment. Too much to do in too little time, too many cooks in the kitchen, not enough planning up front. The only reason I let it end was because it had already gone on long enough. It seemed better to cut my losses and just take the rest as hard lessons learned.

      Your suggestions for agreements ahead of time make tons of sense. I only wish we had sat down and mapped it out better. I can recall that even some band members thought it was a hopeless project in the beginning, but after seeing a rough cut, suddenly felt insistent on playing a major part in the video’s creation. Oh well…

      It seems like the money part is important because even if it’s a small amount, the egos take a bit of a back seat and everyone is willing to actually sit down and think about expectations at the very beginning.

    • #213240

      If you don’t set some terms and costs, the project will eventually end with hard feelings and regrets on both sides…

      thanks for the helpful advice. This makes a lot of sense. Maybe after the initial meeting next time I’ll set up 2 rounds of feedback: one after an early rough cut, then a final chance after the video is completed. Then that’s it! No more! I don’t care what your teenage stepson says dammit! πŸ˜‰

      I agree that working with friends can be difficult and tricky. Fortunately, things didn’t get too dramatic. Eventually I considered which battles were worth fighting for and some battles didn’t seem worth taking a stand on. One member insisted on putting end credits on himself, claiming it would prevent piracy. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’s not how it works lol but the next time I will definitely clear that part up from the beginning. I think he just wanted to have his name on the screen. Sometimes I wonder if everyone considers themselves a video genius because they’ve watched movies and TV their whole life. Everyone considers their idea to be gold no matter how incongruent it may be to the rest of the piece. Anyway I digress…

      The video was completed (such as it is) and the reality is that it’s unlikely that much will happen with it. It’s just embedded on their website, maybe racking up views by the dozen from friends and family. In a few months they probably won’t even care. The ordeal gave me an idea what my editing program is capable of doing, and all the negatives will have to be lessons for the future. Terms, costs, etc need to be worked out from the beginning.

      I just want to reiterate how much I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received here. Lots of great perspective you guys are giving me and all the other passerby.

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