Contract Tips for Videographers
Sometimes videography clients, even those who expressed great satisfaction with the end product they received, contact the videographer months or even years down the road to express dissatisfaction and request a revision or a refund. That's why it is important to have a detailed and thorough videography contract that specifies the videographer’s obligations and the client's expectations. Below are top tips for videographers to keep in mind when drafting contracts.
1. Make mediation or arbitration mandatory.
Having a dispute resolution clause that mandates mediation or arbitration before going to court can resolve lawsuits quickly. Especially with today’s court backlog, judges do not like it when a party comes to court asking for a remedy before complying with the dispute resolution clause.
2. Make the “must-have” shot list part of the contract.
Whether your clients are a bride and groom or corporate, ask them what the “must-have” shots are and make the list part of the written videography contract. That way, if the client later complains that expected shots are missing, the videographer can use the list to show that there was no breach of contract. Getting the must-have shot list in writing is especially important for shoots like weddings where there is only one opportunity to capture it.
3. Properly limit revisions.
It is not enough to just state the number of rounds of revisions allowed under the contract. Videography contracts should also limit the time for requesting a revision and specify the percentage of the video, usually as the total number of minutes of revised video product, the client is entitled to from a round of revisions.
4. Include a right to cure provision in the termination agreement.
The termination section of the contract should include a right to cure provision. That way, if one party thinks the other has breached, the party who thinks they’ve been harmed has to let the other party know. With videography contracts, these provisions usually give the videographer 20-30 days to cure the harm. When there’s a right to cure provision, if a client later asks for a refund, the right to cure gives the videographer another option.
5. Sign the contract correctly.
If the business is an LLC or corporation, it is important to sign the videography business owner to sign as the owner on behalf of the business rather than personally (ex. Jane’s Cupcakes, LLC by Jane Smith, owner). If an authorized agent of the business other than the owner will be signing, they must also sign on behalf of the business (ex. Jane's Cupcakes, LLC by Sue Smith, manager).
Likewise, it is important to make sure the actual client is the person signing the contract. When the videography contract is for an event like a wedding, let people know up front that the bride and groom are the clients and they must sign themselves regardless of who is paying. If the person footing the bill insists on signing even though they are not the actual client, the videographer opens two doors of liability--one for the person who pays and one for the actual client as a third party beneficiary. With corporate clients, this becomes more difficult since it is customary for a non-owner to sign documents on behalf of the business. The videographer has to take steps to confirm that the signer is actually authorized to act on behalf of the business.
6. Get all modifications to the original agreement in writing.
It seem obvious that any changes to the terms of the agreement, including additional work, should be made part of the contract. However, videographers often do not like asking for a new contact every time there is a change or new work, especially with trusted clients. While it can be uncomfortable to ask, when balancing the business and legal aspects, videographers should err on the side of caution and get it in writing. It is not necessary to re-sign the original agreement. An few additional paragraphs or an amendment to an existing exhibit are usually sufficient.