First Paid Freelance Job

I was riding in the car with my lovely (then soon-to-be wife), Rochelle, as a truck pulled out in front of us baring a logo I quickly recognized as the brand I had done my first ever paid commercial work for. The conversation that followed began with me saying, "Have I ever told you about my first paid job?", and ended with Rochelle saying, "Wow… You seriously need to blog about that". So I did...

I will leave personal and company names out to protect the innocent, but all the back story you need is that this company is a very large, high end, retirement community. 

Stephen Fiore, Director of Post Production at The Union Productions, and I spent two or three days filming at this community, conducting interviews and gathering community b-roll. Things went smoothly; Stephen survived my cheesy jokes and overall I was happy with the, at the time Standard Definition, footage.

Terribly embarrassing photo of  Stephen Fiore  and I during our early filmmaking days.

Terribly embarrassing photo of Stephen Fiore and I during our early filmmaking days.

Fast forward to post production where we had gone through maybe 4 rounds back and forth with the client and the video was approved by the marketing department. That's when they called me to say that new countertops were being installed in some of the residences and only those new countertops could be in the video. "No problem," I replied, "We'll take a half day, capture them, and reshoot the scenes where old countertops are seen. It will only be $____ more". There was shock on the other side of the phone and while I don't remember the exact reply, I imagine it went something like, "WHAT?! We need to pay you more money to do more work?".

Fun Fact: Ken Burns is an American documentary director most known for adding slow movement to archival photos in his films

Next came the question that every video producer in marketing and advertising has heard… "Can we just send you pictures and you drop them in?". (Every time I hear that, I can almost see Ken Burns saying "That sounds like a great idea!"). Well…. I could do that, but it's really not gonna look the same or fit with what we have.

Unfortunately, I was too new into the game to know how to handle that and simply replied, "If you feel like that's best!". So several days pass and still no photos have been sent to me. Then, a knock at the door. It was UPS... with a package from my client?! No way had they sent me physical photos… and…. they hadn't. When I opened the package, a small yellow box fell out; a throw-away camera. I had been sent A THROW AWAY CAMERA to develop, scan, and insert into what they wanted to be a highly professional piece.

The story doesn't end there. Before I was able to even develop the camera, I received an email with two pages worth of changes… but I thought the piece was approved? The short story is that marketing had never told the CEO they were doing a video project and had used all the budget before they showed him the piece. Now, he had his own list of changes that, of course, no one wanted to pay to have done. Stalemate. 

Anti-climactically, I don't remember exactly how this all ended. I don't believe I was ever fully compensated. I can't remember if they ever ended up using the video. I believe it just froze; them not wanting to pay for the days of additional work they were asking for and me not wanting to work for free.

So, this was my first experience. My first client interaction.  I can say right off the bat, I learned what not to do, how to create better work with your client, and how to discover what your client's goals truly are!