Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


Strangely this has been tried twice in two months but I am making you aware of this so you don’t fall into the same trap…

It’s called “Not followed to completion” a new game employers are playing to avoid payment and can I say at this point its not just the wee chancer its large organisations as well.

Here is the scenario…You are called into a meeting and agree to film or photograph a set subject, turn out, shoot, edit and present your work to the company, no reply or correspondence for a month then you finally bill them for your time etc. to be told since the job had not been followed to completion they are not paying you.

Total nonsense and illegal, if you have been commissioned to film or photograph for someone you are entitled to be paid for time spent on the job both at their premises and editing be-it video editing or photoshop time.

I recently filmed a chap with green screen and prompting for a web site for them to “view” what it would look like so the boss man decided as they were not going ahead with this idea the agreed price was to be cut by 50%…”eh…no that’s not the game plan we are not a charity”.

Fortunately I got paid for both jobs eventually but this is my top tips for anyone called into a meeting even if you have worked for someone for ages don’t take their word as a bond.

1. Make sure from the outset you know why you are being involved telling them you will be sending them a bill for time spent on the job.

2. Get it in writing and a signature if possible that they agree to pay a set sum of money if its a job you can agree a price up front.

3. Keep a note of time spent on the job from filming, editing, prompting, meetings etc.

As a production company we don’t do work for nothing, time spent on a job is payable no mater what the outcome so beware of the new austerity scam that certain companies are playing.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

8 thoughts on “A new sinister way to try to get out of paying you “Not followed to completion”

  1. Hi, Philip…A suggestion is to line-item each deliverable and give a price for each.

    Submit a contract (I can help you evolve one that you can submit for each project).

    Get the client to give you a Purchase Order, then at each stage (after the kickoff meeting, after filming, as you deliver the edited material, give them a little piece of paper referencing the project, the purchase order and the deliverable details and get a signature.

    Nex, send a bill, attaching copy of the signoff paper.

    Clearly, on a small job you will end up sending one bill, after the fact but the signed contract, and the PO make it difficult for someone to say ‘the agreed price was to be cut by 50%”

    e-mail me and I will send you a draft contract that we can adapt to the work you take on.

    Our contract for software licensing are quite different in that they have license fees as well as service fees, but it will be easy to trim them back to suit your work.

    Happy to do this for you, I will use the end material myself in video work that I do.

  2. this business is getting all the habits plaguing the stills guys, from the stills amateurs now video amateurs. It wasn’t like this before. The problem is simple : the amateurs never finish what they start, so the Clients are starting to get the new habits. I saw it with my own eyes.

  3. Hi Phillip

    My practice for the last 20 years has been to submit a detailed quote for the work being requested which also details my trading terms, requiring 50% deposit on acceptance of the quote and balance on delivery of approved master to the client. This is a sure fire way of weeding out the ‘trouble’ clients and non payers. I’d rather loose a so called job than do work and have trouble getting paid or not get paid at all. In all the years since I’ve adopted this practice I’ve only lost a few jobs, most genuine clients have no trouble with my terms and conditions and understand my trading requirements. After all most companies today offering credit require you to provide substantial proof of liquidity and also sign personal guarantees, why should small operators have any less cover? Remember most people prepared to use you and not pay aren’t concerned with being sued because they know you won’t have the money or the time to pursue a legal case.

  4. It might be worth pointing out to the client (preferably by solicitors’ letter) that you retain all copyright and any attempt to use the material will result in legal action being taken.

    From (bitter) experience, solicitors are far more likely to take on a case on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis if they think there’s money in it for them. A relatively easy case proving that the client used the material without first clearing its use should be worth a few grand…

    HDW : Solicitors are the last resort, never having used them I find a good bit of negotiation works for me but it’s a signed contract up front from now on especially for big companies that should know better.

  5. Therefore I “always” charge in advance. No matter if it’s a new client or not. I try to calculate the offer as precise as possible or I just price it higher. If the clients decides on the shoot that he wants more he gets an additional offer that has to be paid in advance before I even charge my batteries.

    HDW : Hi Daniel, that should be the way we all work after all most weddings are paid 2 weeks in advance of the wedding.

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