Working in video production can be a dream come true. Whether you’re freelancing or running your own video company, it’s an in-demand service that lets you make a living doing what you love.
At least, as long as you can get paid for your work.
It’s unfortunate, but there will always be less-than-scrupulous parties who will try to get out of honoring their end of a business agreement for one reason or another. That’s why drafting a video production contract is an essential practice for any video crew or freelance videographer.
To protect yourself and your team on every job you take, here are the key steps to follow every time you need to establish a production agreement.
1. Have a Discussion Before You Start
Every arrangement should begin with an interview between yourself and the prospective client. Spend time getting to know their requirements so that you can evaluate what skills and equipment will be needed before you commit to a project.
This can help you to avoid misunderstandings down the line. You should also use this process to start compiling a list of services like creating storyboards and acquiring assets that you can add to your billable work.
2. Agree on the Services Provided and Payment Obligations
This is the meat of the contracting process. Vidoe production isn’t a monolith and can entail any number of services from pre-production to post.
Compiling production notes, supplying music, creative supervision, and acquiring necessary clearances are all tasks that may need to be attended to. And unless they’re outlined in your agreement, the client isn’t liable to pay you for that work. This is also the stage where you negotiate what materials are provided and on the production schedule.
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At this point, you’ll also need to discuss payment terms. Most video production contracts specify a fixed payment for a job completed. But if it’s a recurring arrangement necessitating a quarterly or monthly payment schedule, that will need to be ironed out here.
You’ll also need to establish any discounts that are being subtracted from your usual fees. Taking a reduced rate for non-profit video production is a common practice, so if that applies here you’ll need to establish as much in explicit terms.
4. Agree on Terms That Would Terminate the Contract
Sadly, even the best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition.
There is any number of reasons why a contract may need to be terminated. Two common ones are a client running into financial difficulties or deciding a project is going in an undesirable direction.
In any case, you’ll want the terms of termination of the contract in writing.
5. Establish Ownership and Confidentiality
Lastly, you need to establish who owns the materials produced, as well as provide for confidentiality during production.
For contracted work, the client tends to own all rights, titles, and interests in the media once production completes. Mention assets like negatives, positives, outtakes, and clips in the contract.
And if applicable, you should specify confidentiality terms. If you’re working on a film shoot, for example, it’s standard practice to agree not to reveal story elements while production is in progress.
A Video Production Contract Protects You and Your Client
Getting a video production contract in writing may not be the most exciting part of the job, but it’s an essential practice. Not only can it help protect you from dishonest entities, but the negotiations provide an opportunity to iron out potential misunderstandings before they become a problem.
Though of course, it’s only a preliminary step in the production cycle. For more on how to take your video production business to the next level, be sure to keep up with our latest tech and how-to guides.