Writing Legally Protective Bids & Quotes For Post Production Pros

January 15, 2024

Mixing Light's Attorney Seth Polanski Esq. shares how you can set fair legal Terms and Conditions when quoting and bidding jobs.


Office Hours LIVE! Attorney Seth Polansky Esq. helps you legally protect yourself from misunderstanding or confusion

In this edition of Office Hours LIVE! Mixing Light CEO Patrick Inhofer is joined by special guest panelist Seth Polansky Esq. along with contributors Jason Bowdach, Rich Roddman, Scott Stacy, and Vincent Taylor CSI to discuss what goes into (and what should be going into) the bids and quotes for creative professionals. Be sure to stream the entirety of this one, as each contributor shares some very useful–and personal–insights into how they advocate for themselves and their businesses during contract negotiations.

Some highlights of our discussion include:

  • Why do we, as creatives, need a contract?
  • If you do not have a contract, your quote becomes the contract… which is why you need legally binding Terms and Conditions.
  • Protect yourself with details: how many rounds of review? How many times can your client reject your work? Who is responsible for schedule delays?
  • What is a SOW (Statement of Work?)
  • Ensure that your work does not infringe upon the rights of a third party, which is especially difficult if you are using machine learning-generated assets (such as Adobe Firefly, MidJourney, etc)
  • How ‘nexus’ defines the judicial jurisdiction for an individual project, and how to control which state laws govern a project
  • How to use an event-based schedule rather than a calendar-based work schedule
  • How to spot hard negotiating tactics – and how much to push back
  • Buying Liability Insurance (from a broker vs agent)

In the last few minutes, we discuss the legal complexities of Machine Learning tools for creatives.

Additional Downloads for Premium Members:
Sample Agreements and Statement of Work (SoW)

Premium Members can download two sample Terms and Conditions Agreements prepared by Seth. As Seth said during this Office Hours, if you don’t have Terms and Conditions as part of your bid/quote, then the bid/quote IS the contract. And your bid is almost 100% guaranteed to be missing the big three legal protections that you need:

  • Indemnification
  • Limitation of liability (without this, you could lose your house)
  • Choice of Law

NOTE: You need to have an attorney from your state review and approve these documents! These starter templates will save you an hour or two of time with your attorney, who should make quick work of it.

Both templates have a Statement of Work (SoW) as Exhibit A. The SoW is completely customizable on a job-by-job basis. You want to define all the parameters of your work product and your workflow, as well as your overtime rate (and when overtime starts) and your weekend rates. As discussed in this Office Hours, elements to add to your SoW include:

  • Flat bid or hourly?
  • How a project is delivered to you before you can begin
  • Your precise final delivery elements
  • How many rounds of revisions are included?

Template 1: Outbound Services Agreement

This Agreement is used for your editing/color grading/VFX bids and should be posted on your website (you don’t need to link to it in your website’s menus or sitemap). YOU are the CONTRACTOR, and your client is the COMPANY. Generally, if a large corporation with on-staff attorneys is hiring you, they will provide you with a Terms and Agreements document that will supersede this one.

For large and small clients, you should attach the Statement Of Work to your bid. Your bid should include language like, ‘absent a superseding Terms and Conditions Agreement, the Terms and Conditions found on my website at https://XYZ.null/terms-and-agreements will be binding‘.

Pay attention to Section 6.2 Fees

If you don’t have a single standard for when payment is due, you can force the Terms and Agreements to be bound by your Statement Of Work by changing the language to: “All payments shall be due in accordance with the payment schedule section (”Fees”) of the SOW.

Template 2: Inbound Services Agreement

In this Agreement, you are hiring someone else to work for you. Think: Subcontractor.

In this template, YOU are the COMPANY. This also has an SoW where you define your expectations of their work product, what/when/how you’re paying, and their deliverables. Again, the SoW is very flexible, so revise it as needed – but it’s inappropriate for hiring staff.

Announcement: The Color Grading Newsletter comes to Mixing Light

Also announced in this Office Hours: Are you a long-time Tao Colorist Newsletter reader? The Color Grading Newsletter is moving to Mixing Light! After 573 weekly issues (and counting!) the newsletter is now available to Streaming+ and Premium members. Others can get it with an individual annual subscription. The Newsletter ships (nearly) every Sunday of the year.

Mentioned in this Insight:

– Patrick

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