Dealing with Payment Terms
Payment terms describe when and for how long you will be paid for your services in the film industry. They can vary significantly, ranging from being paid at the end of the shoot to receiving half upfront with the balance due later, or even payment after 30 days.
Labor and Gear Payments
If you’re charging separately for your labor and gear, it’s common for the labor payment to come through a payroll check, which you should receive within a few days. For the gear, payment might come after 30 days or, in some cases, even later.
Prompt Payment Discounts
To encourage faster payment for your gear, you can offer a prompt payment discount if the client pays immediately rather than in 30 days. This discount typically ranges from 2-5%, but it provides you with the certainty of knowing when to expect your money.
Delays in Payments from Large Studios
When working with large studios, it’s not uncommon to wait 60 days or more to get paid. If you encounter this situation, it’s important to be patient and maintain a professional attitude.
Handling Late Payments
If a client is late with their payment, avoid being too aggressive or assuming bad faith. Although there are dishonest clients, many delays in payment are due to issues with accounting or other financial matters. Most clients don’t appreciate being hounded for late payments.
Effective Communication for Late Payments
When reaching out to a client about a late payment, don’t accuse them of not sending the payment. Instead, ask if there’s a possibility that the payment got lost in the mail. This approach maintains a positive tone and keeps the lines of communication open.
The Nuclear Option: A Last Resort
Threatening legal action (the nuclear option) is not a productive approach to resolving payment disputes. It’s more valuable to maintain your professional relationship with the client than to damage it with aggressive tactics. Use the nuclear option only when you’re prepared to sever ties with the client.