There are two sides of this conversation:
- Retaining ownership of the creative work you produce and
- Being accountable for the visuals you create.
Ownership of creative works
Freelance in the video production world is a way of life for many. The flexibility to work on multiple projects, develop your own client lists, and work your own hours make the lifestyle appealing. Managing the business side can be difficult at times, especially when dealing with the ownership of raw files and completed works.
Unless you sign creative rights away, the raw images you produce remain yours regardless of the amount someone pays you.
I’m not a lawyer so I’m not going to dive too far into the legalities of content ownership, but at OnScene we generally assign a standard fee for turning over raw files to a client at the end of a project. Even in these cases we retain dual ownership unless exclusivity is specifically requested by the client.
As for completed works, we have one simple line in our contract that states we have the right to display any completed work for the purposes of marketing, training, or competitions. If claiming and displaying completed works is a stumbling block for a client, we negotiate that up front and decide if the budget, relationship, and project is worth rescinding those rights to display final drafts.
Lastly, our business strategy revolves mostly (80/20 ratio) around developing relationships directly with clients vs through agency partnerships. In many cases an agency will want you to, at the very least, suspend your rights to creative works unless formally approved by said agency. The lifeline of our company is the stories we’re able to consistently share. Not being able to share the stories we create is a stumbling block we generally prefer to avoid.
Hold yourself to high(er) standards
Knowing your creative rights is important, but we can’t forget that having a career in the creative arts is an honor, it’s a gift, and it’s something you should feel blessed to be able to do every day you wake up.
Don’t lose sight of the path you’ve ventured on, or the motivations that have led you along.
You are paid to convey emotion visually and communicate valuable messages. Messages that matter deeply to the client who contracts you to execute a vision and those they wish to communicate with. You have an obligation and are at all time accountable for the creation of your client’s vision. Some visions are clear and some take more time and effort to bring to light. Your ability to stay singularly focused on the moments directly in front of you and consider those individual frames through your client’s eyes will help you consistently collaborate on creative projects.