I want to draft a contract to work on spec.
February 15, 2009 7:44 PM   Subscribe

I am a freelance video editor and I am being asked to work on spec (as in do the work and the producers will pay for my work if they like it). I want to draft some sort of contract outlining what I am doing, and their use of my work if they do like it, but I don't know exactly what I should include in a contract like this. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
posted by helios410 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about where you're working, but spec work is very uncommon where I work. We either work for actual money, or do freebie jobs for friends and little projects we like the sound of. The freebies often come with the eventual promise of money when the video or movie makes the millions our friend is sure it will, but we don't hold our breath.

I would certainly never cut something for a producer on the grounds that they pay me if they like my work.

For free I've done short films, one indie feature, a couple of music videos and a couple of pilot things. All were quite clearly free and we all knew it.
posted by sycophant at 8:22 PM on February 15, 2009

Oh, and to the point. You could probably do something like a 'statement of understanding' you write something that says "The offer as I understand it is this.... " and have both of you sign it - it makes it clear you both know what the expectations are, and there shouldn't be any dispute about that later on.
posted by sycophant at 8:24 PM on February 15, 2009

Don't work on spec.

I used to do it too. Now that I've stopped, I'm so much happier.

In case you are not convinced, here are ten reasons never to work for spec.

Seriously, don't do it.
posted by jeffmilner at 8:46 PM on February 15, 2009

Don't do it if you have any expectation of getting paid.
posted by mzurer at 8:54 PM on February 15, 2009

Nthing the above. Either work for free OR for money/food/etc - the murky gray area is where trouble lurks. Perhaps you can compromise by offering to edit a small portion of video so that they get a feel for your style and capabilities, and charge them your hourly rate for doing so.

Working for spec devalues the entire industry by proliferating the idea that our skills are not worth cold hard cash (they are!). Bit of a hardcore statement but I do believe it. Hope it turns out well for you :)
posted by Nooster at 12:54 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don't work on spec.

Invariably, they'll "almost" like it and will ask for changes and revisions. Then, your changes and revisions will be "almost perfect" except for one little thing that shouldn't be a big deal to change. And that'll be perfect, but they just realized they don't actually have the budget, so "we can pay you when this starts making money. And you'll definitely get your name in the credits."
posted by Netzapper at 2:55 AM on February 16, 2009

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