Sunday, May 22, 2011

Labor not included

I was contracted for a job that I completed last night. It was pretty unusual, but it wasn't too bad at all. I brought along another videographer and we shot on either side of an MMA fighting ring, recording the fights and simultaneously broadcasting our feed to the big screens for the audience. 23 fights. Pretty ridiculous.

I've had enough testosterone for a month, I need to watch The Notebook promptly.

Aside from the fairly usual "oh, I conveniently forgot to read the invoice or contract before you got here and I have issues with it (don't want to pay for various things)," everything went pretty smoothly. The client was pretty nice, no real problems, except for my balance and ability to stand on a platform the size of a four square section that's attached to the ring, and therefore moved about when the fighters do, and do handheld camera operation while holding on for dear life. The trouble came when we were about to leave, and waiting for payment.

The client said, "alright, a few things," which never means good stuff is about to come out of their mouth. At that point in the job, there shouldn't be "a few things" to discuss, unless they'd like to talk about each monetary bill individually and their aesthetic merits.

"Seriously, dude, if you fold it just right, you can see the twin towers... but beavers railing eachother is still funnier."

There weren't really "a couple things." What he told us was that one of his employees was headed to them ATM to get our payment, and that we "still needed to help them tear down their equipment, as was part of the agreement." This was never "part of the agreement," nor is it a videographer's job to help another production company tear down their station, dozens of lights and speakers, truss, and other equipment and load several tons of it into a panel van. He did say, at one point, that if we had extra time before shooting and they still needed help setting up, he'd pay us to assist. However, this wasn't in writing (phone conversation), and "part of the agreement" doesn't smack of "pay us" for the added labor. I didn't argue it, because he had already made a fuss about having to compensate us for gas and tapes as per the invoice and contract, so I figured we'd help them throw some stuff in the van. Add to that, we had foolishly handed in our tapes to the PA as we shot, so we had no leverage. He had our work in full, completed, and we had nothing in return. That was before I realized all the lights and truss was theirs.

 "Octamania," no longer limited to tentacle porn festivals or witty nicknames for one's penis.

Four hours later, we had loaded the panel van and a secondary truck with equipment. We collect our cash, a few dollars short of the invoice and without any extra payment for the labor, and we head home.

From now on, we're holding tapes and other media until we're paid in full, and I've added "for legal and insurance purposes, we cannot do labor for other production companies unless contracted and paid" to our contract. Lesson learned.

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