Monday, May 19, 2008

Producer / Editor / Debt-Collector

Still reading through the earlier posts of Shane Ross' blog and came across this post with brilliantly useful [well...] comments:

Lesson 1 from comment by Christian Glawe

Working as an assistant editor at a large facility - a dub order comes in for a bunch of 1" broadcast dubs of a group of commercials we did for an Ad Agency.

Ad Agency had only paid about half their production bill with us (and other half was about 90 days), but was ordering more broadcast dubs.

My boss, owner of the company (lets call him "Jim"), grabs the dub order off the fax machine, grabs me, and says "c'mon... I'm gonna show you how to make dubs".

So "Jim" has me rout the master through the switcher in Edit 1, and **black out the top half of the commercial**.

Jim says, "They paid half their bill... they get half their spot"

And then the kicker....

"Really, though... they should thank me... I left them the half with the phone number on it..."

Bill was paid the next day.


Lesson 2 from comment by Scott Simmons

Years ago a fellow freelancer had been trying repeatedly to get paid for a job. Many calls to the producer gave him only the run-around. Knowing the producer had a great big facility he either had money or was in real debt. So my friend went to the facility with a big bag of unshelled peanuts in hand.

He calmly asked for the producer. When they inquired what he was there for my friend produced the now 120+ days invoice and stated that he wanted to be paid for the work he had done. The secretary buzzed someone on the phone then stated the producer wasn't in and could he come back or, preferably, call later. My friend stated "nope, he would wait."

He then sat down in the reception area and began to shell and eat peanuts and throw the discarded shells onto the floor. After a few minutes the secretary asked what he was doing and he casually explained that he had worked hard to complete the job that he hadn't been paid for, took time calling and waiting patiently for payment that never came and was now there for his payment as well as enjoying some peanuts. He was either going to leave with his check and his peanuts or be escorted out by the police and it "wouldn't be the first time."

The secretary then retreated to the back of the building and returned with his check, in full. He left the building with his check and his peanuts, never to work for that producer again. I can only assume he still likes peanuts.

*THIS* is something I gotta try doing one of these days...


Lesson 3 from comment by Allan

What I do now is create my quote at a full rate say $200/hour then offer a discount of 25% - 75% depending on the job and the client and past relationships and all that jazz. Discount is based on payments made in time which is clearly stated in the contract signed by the producer and I also require a credit card preferably an Amex card (No limit). Obviously this is a drastic step but after 45 days they loose the discount, assuming no discussions have happened, and on day sixty I run the bill through the Amex account and let them deal with Amex. So far with this policy no one has paid later than 60 days, and I haven't actually had to enforce the lost discount but I'm sure it will happen sometime. I think its mostly about respect and you have to make sure your clients respect you as a business, I'm not a bank and can't give my clients loans, which is essentially what not paying for more than 30 days is.

Very sensible. Though probably unheard of in this cowboy town industry here.


Lesson 4 from comment by Louie Stevens

Working on a video production once, I had a client who would not pay several me and all the other freelancers. We tried calling, leaving messages, emails, and one freelancer even went to this guys office - and left empty handed. Then I came up with an ingenious idea - I went to his website, copied and pasted his client list into an email to the producer stating that if I was not paid in full by the end of that week, I would contact every one of his clients on the list and tell them that he does not pay his freelancers. I got a check for the full outstanding amount in two days.

Nice and effective. Some bridges are meant to be burnt, especially if it's one that's leading to a giant trap of a hellhole.


At this rate, I think I need to be more hard-assed if I wanna be able to survive full-time freelancing.