The “business” of video encompasses a lot of things – your marketing strategy, your cost of doing business, your skill set needed to survive in business, your management of employees or outside contractors and paperwork. For now I’ll speak to paperwork and how critical it is in communicating with clients.
A paperwork trail starts with an estimate for a job and I don’t take the process of estimating lightly. I try to get as much information that I can when a client comes to me and asks me to bid on a job – or asks me to provide an estimate for a job I’ve already been hired to do. I keep a database of past SOW’s (Statement of Work) to use as references. While every job is different, I use these archived SOW’s as a starting point.
In addition to estimating the costs of crew, equipment, location needs, pre-production and post-production, I clearly state terms as well as a schedule for post-production – including client response time and completion dates.
Terms – Here is where I state rights and “usage” of the finished product – where will it be used and for how long. I also spell out payment terms, cancellation fees as well as provide an accurate description of exactly what I’m going to deliver. For instance:
- 10-minute video to be delivered on DVD and compressed files for the web.
- One day shoot on location at………….includes 2 interviews and b-roll
- Post production – edit will include x amount of still images – sized and digitally provided by client – logos provided by client– stock photos and/or footage – narrative (voiceover) track and music.
- Payment – one third upon signed SOW – one third after shoot – and balance due upon delivery of final product.
- Cancellation terms and fees
- Change fees
- How many edit revisions are included and the additional hourly editing costs if more revisions are needed.
Schedule – This is extremely important in video production – a schedule sign off by the client that stipulates delivery dates for each part of the process. The reason this is critical is that if the client delays things on their end – it’s clearly understood that the rest of the schedule gets extended in terms of deadline dates. Otherwise if your client needs their boss to approve things and their boss has an unexpected out of town trip come up – thus delaying the process – you won’t be left with half the time you need to deliver the final product. Example of post production schedule:
- Aug. 31 – Script approved by client
- Sept. 1 – Casting reel delivered to client
- Sept. 7 – Talent decisions made by client
- Sept. 20 – Shoot date
- Sept. 25 – Voiceover recorded
- Sept. 26 – All logos, graphics and still images provided by client
- Oct. 5 – Rough Cut delivered to client for review
- Oct. 12 – Any edit changes noted by client and communicated to production house.
- Oct. 19 – Final cut delivered.
Lastly here’s a link to AICP (Association of Independent Commercial Producers) with examples of bid forms and contracts that are helpful in terms of bringing to mind all the things that should be covered in your SOW.