Last December I was asked to edit a trailer for a documentary. This trailer would be used to solicit finishing funds. And while they couldn’t pay much, they could pay. Since I wasn’t doing anything in January and halfway thru Febuary, I took the job.

The client asked how they should deal with the payment I said that I would like half up front, and half when I deliver the final. That sounded fine to them, so I received half the payment and the tapes to begin editing.

I worked on the project for about 3 weeks, and delivered a rough cut. Then I waited…and waited…and waited. Finally two weeks ago I received word from the director (the guy who hired me). The producers partnership had split due to philosophical differences in the way they wanted to approach the documentary. So not only was it on hold, but it might be shut down altogether. At least the one that I was asked to edit. The producers might end up with separate docs…but for me, the project was done.

Now, I am glad that I got half up front, because the doc was DOA. I am darn sure that trying to get partial payment after what happened would be darn near impossible. Who would want to pay for nothing? This is a lesson I learned the hard way on a previous project. Getting paid is VERY important. If you don’t arrange weekly payments, you need to arrange some sort of payment so that you can have something to live off of while you work.

Now, typically I work for production companies that do TV shows, so I get paid weekly, so this isn’t a situation that I normally find myself in. Having been stung before (like I mentioned) I tend to do this half up front thing. In the television production world they give you a first payment for research and to start production, then more money when you start shooting, then a final payment when you deliver the final and all the production bibles. This is what I based my payment plan on.