Don’t Give Away Your Raw Footage or Negatives

  1. Empowerment. When you hand over the raw footage or negatives you empower your clients to make future videos (or future prints) whenever and however they want, with or without your input. That means you can lose future earnings from your creativity and sweat. If you’re going to give up that revenue potential, you’re entitled to be paid for it.
  2. Protecting your brand. When you hand over the power of a client to do whatever they want with the footage/negatives, that means they have the power to make a crappy video/prints from videos/photos you created. That means you and your work could be associated with or connected to a final product that looks bad, exposing you to “guilt by association” critique. Imagine if a wedding client edits your footage terribly, a friend sees that video, asks who shot it, and guess what the answer is. YOU. If you are going to have work that you shot out on the interwebs, or on people’s devices, you should be compensated for the chance you could be associated with work below your quality standards. That is one of the reasons why Steve Jobs did away with Mac clones when he regained power after his exile. Those clones sucked and he didn’t want Mac software associated with a crappy computer experience. One area where this is not a huge deal is if you strictly shoot for other studios. In cases like that, your brand is not about the finished, edited product.
  3. It’s worth it. Last but certainly not least, if they client wants it, that means they’re willing to pay for it. Why do you pay $4 for a cup of coffee that cost Starbucks 40 cents to make? Because you want it. You don’t NEED it. You WANT it. And you’re willing to pay $4 to $5 to get it. Your raw footage is no different. If your client wants it, they’ll pay for it. If they’re willing to pay for it, you can charge for it. Simple as that.

How Much to Charge?

  • how much footage there is
  • the potential for the client to make additional videos from that footage
  • the scarcity or abundance of additional videographers/photographers in the client’s area
  • the production quality of the original footage (e.g. was it shot on a RED? Did you have a lot of crane and dolly shots? Do you have very clean green screen? etc.)
  • the location of the footage (e.g. b-roll of an expedition to the south pole or wandering the streets of Paris may be worth ten times than b-roll of a client or customer in an office environment you could film anywhere)

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