Didn't get a contract and my friend is shortchanging me

I mean I definitely want the money. I have talked to her and she insists that I’M the crazy one trying to extort her

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Is it possible she’s genuinely misremembering, and not trying to cheat you? There are a lot of things to keep track of in a production (which is why I always record things somewhere, even just for myself).

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In the future, make sure you get written agreements for EVERYTHING, no matter how small. That’s the lesson I’ve learned. Even if you think “someone wouldn’t do that.” They can and they will, sadly.

You might have to write this one off as a lesson learned and take the hit, or try @Bri_Castellini’s suggestion.

Could also possibly be a misremembering of the situation. Even Monty Python had trouble with their 3’s and 5’s…right?

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i thought that at first but then when I pressed her, she got really defensive in a way that clearly indicates she’s fucking with me (can I say fucking on this forum?). She started going on and on about what she paid everyone else and that she’s the only one in our filmmaking circle who has done a fully paid production before and how I should be grateful yadayada. We’re still friends and I love her dearly but this stinks and I wanted to see what my options were

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yeah trust me lesson learned. UGH!! Do you guys (the @stareable people) have a contracts article?

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You can say ‘fucking’ in the forum as long as it’s not a personal attack :slight_smile:

And we have TWO articles on contracts!

https://blog.stareable.com/thoughts-on-contracting-from-a-lawyer-turned-filmmaker-fded215620fe

Cool I’ll look these over. UGH AGAIN. I’m so annoyed. It was a really good edit too.

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I’m kinda on the side of Bri’s most dramatic suggestion- keep the edit. If she can’t pay right now for whatever reason, work out a payment plan IN WRITING or hold her footage hostage. Make sure the contract also stipulates the money she’s already paid is yours and cannot be refunded since you absolutely fulfilled your side of things. Also… she doesn’t sound like that great of a friend, honestly, so screw her.

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I have a sound recordist friend who straight up does not surrender his audio files until he’s been paid, in full. Granted, he gets contracts, but his policy is that they’re his files/work up until someone pays for them. Technically, your edit would be the same. Not the footage though- I’d surrender the footage but not the edit files (you can move those to a different hard drive)

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I mean this is the first time she’s pulled something like this so I don’t want to completely burn that bridge? But it does suck. Especially because I know for a fact she paid her DP/director $500 for the four day shoot so it’s not that I’m getting paid more than anyone

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I would reach out to the other members of the production and see if they also got screwed over. If she’s doing this deliberately (as opposed to misremembering things) then you’re not the only one who’s getting screwed. That may not increase your leverage, but the more people who are in the same boat, the greater the momentum. You can threaten to post this information about her publicly, which - even if she was right - could potentially stain her reputation.

The only caveat here is that this tactic - or withholding the edit - could adversely impact your ability to get work down the line. I’ve seen it happen - even justified complaints get someone labeled as “difficult.” It sucks.

That’s another reason to reach out to the other crewmembers. If they’ve gone through the same thing (or even if they haven’t) they can back you up and/or keep you in mind for future jobs (if they only have her side of the story, they may put you in the 'difficult" category and not hire you). They may also have a way of talking to her on the side to change her mind.

Good luck!

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yuuuuuck

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Fuck I didn’t even think of that. I should ask around cuz I know she was late on at least one person’s stuff. Thanks

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I agree with everything @whoisjonporter said.

Sadly I learned that certain working relationships with friends don’t always work out. They may think they can get away with stuff because you’re “friends,” but you have to let them know it’s not ok.

If you want to continue being friends with this person you should think long and hard about working with her in the future.

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Thirded. There’s this misconception that if you’re friends with someone, any version of your relationship should work. For college and post-college, before I was a filmmaker, my mistake was LIVING with friends, but working with them is in the same vein. Sometimes, a friend should just be a friend, even if you have similar ambitions. Just because you can’t work together well or live together comfortably doesn’t mean your friendship is doomed- it just means you should work and live separately and make the choice to see each other and hang out.

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I would say give your friend the finished product in the formats they need, and give them the raw footage, but withhold the project and non-footage assets. If trailers need to be cut your friend can do that themselves or you can for an extra fee. You can also charge to give them the project file and non-footage assets. I would also consider charging them a fee for any new export of the material for them.

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What does “project and non-footage assets” entail?

The project file itself with the edits. In my case that would be the premiere pro project file. And non-footage assets would be any graphics I had to utilize for the edit like titles or end-credits. Any after effects files or illustrator files or anything like that would also not be included. My thinking is that with the high-res exports of the finished product and the raw footage, the “client” could basically rebuild the movie themselves if they didn’t want to pay the remainder for the project file and all that stuff.

And when I say giving the finished product, I mean exporting for them in the formats they want, giving them an uncompressed version, a medium compressed version, a super compressed version. Technically you would have delivered per the oral agreement. The “client” should have gotten it written down that they were going to get any project files associated.

This way, you still deliver on your agreement, and if they put up a stink, you’ve got some leverage because you gave what was “expected” per the oral contract…

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I gotcha. Smart.

Do NOT hold the footage hostage. Do NOT hold the project hostage. DO NOT reach out to other crew members.

Nothing you’ve said makes me think that this is deliberate vs. a misunderstanding; you finding her behavior suspect does not make it so.

You have to suck this one up. You’ve said - hey, we agreed on a different rate - and she says that you didn’t. She’s paid you, you have no contract. Either deliver what you have and stop working or finish it and chalk it up to poor judgment. This is as much your fault as it is hers.

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