Kitplus - The TV-Bay Magazine

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COMMENT SETTING OUT YOUR TERMS OF BUSINESS by Den Lennie I t’s one thing to win a client and work, but it can be a whole different thing getting paid. Setting out a simple one-page ’terms of agreement’ can protect you. I’m not qualified to give legal advice so I encourage you to seek professional advice when setting up your own terms of business. In simple terms, you just need to write down clearly and concisely what you will and won’t be responsible for when you’re engaged with the client project. This can be very useful for clarifying terms and conditions, particularly around edits and revisions. I recall speaking with a fi lmmaker recently who took our ’How to Shoot Sequences’ program and he found himself in a situation where the client kept wanting more and more changes. Because they hadn’t been clear from the outset, the client rightly assumed that unlimited changes were included in the price. If you do not specify exactly what is and is not included in your cost estimate, then you can’t blame the client when they want repeat changes. The net result for this fi lmmaker was that he was now making additional changes that had not been budgeted for, which was costing him money. The best and clearest way to avoid any confusion is to specify any terms of business that you normally include, as well as two rounds of changes per offl ine edit, with specifi cs detailed on the cost estimate. There is no reason why you can’t modify your terms of business based on the specifi c client project, but it probably makes more sense to have standard business terms and any amendments or specifi c details highlighted in an attachment to the quote. In addition to detailing any specifi c project and production parameters, e.g. who is supplying the location, who is providing music, and who is providing graphics, etc., 42 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 107 NOVEMBER 2015 the terms of business should clearly state the payment terms. On larger projects, I always insist on a 50% upfront payment if there are signifi cant production costs to be borne by us. As I’ve already discussed, some clients will pay on 60 or 90 days, and you have to pay your crew on 30. You may also have to pay for other ’out of pocket’ production costs upfront. On some projects, there may be split payments that go beyond simply 50% upfront. Every project is different but it is important that you have your payment terms laid out in detail in advance of the project commencing. It’s also important to note that the cost estimate is simply that, a cost ’estimate’, and that you should have a clause that clearly states actual expenses may be higher, but will be discussed with the client during production for approval. I use this exact phrase on my cost estimates: “Estimate is valid for seven days from the date of issue. Fees and expenses quoted are for the original job description and layouts only, and for the usage specifi ed. Final billing will refl ect actual expenses. A purchase order or signed estimate and 50% of the estimate total is due upon booking. All rights not specifi cally granted in writing, including copyright, remain the exclusive property of Den Lennie.” By getting a client to sign the document, you have something that you can later rely on should there be any dispute. I’m happy to report that in all my years of working in this industry, I’ve never had cause to dispute an invoice with a client. I put that down to clear and