There’s a trend I’ve seen developing, at least I see it here in Atlanta, whereby video editors will agree to take on a project, but ask the client to pay for the tools. I don’t mean going to work for someone else in their shop, I mean as an independent freelance editor, they will ask the client to pay for the tools because they don’t have a system big enough to do the work. And the clients do it! As in the client purchases the system, the editor edits on it, and when the project is done, the client has a video editing system they’ll never use again. When in the heck did this become acceptable?
Picture this scenario. You’re ready to build a house. You pick out the contractor and the first thing he says is, “Ok, here’s a list of tools you’re gonna need to buy at the hardware store and here’s another list of things you’re gonna need to rent for me to be able to do this. I’m happy to do the work, but my little toolbox isn’t enough to build this house.”
Yet there are editors who will say, “I’ll edit your show / documentary / feature but my little editing system can’t handle it. You buy the system and I’ll edit on it.” And the client does it. With money that could have been spent on other things or simply saved and not spent at all.
Building a proper system to take on a job is the cost of doing business. You want to take on larger projects, you need to set up a system. You work the cost of a system into a job or a series of jobs. I didn’t build a 96TB NAS with 10Gig E connectivity to 20 computers overnight. That has slowly been built over time with incremental investments so right now, we have no problem taking on multiple features and episodic television at the same time. Nor would we ever ask a client to purchase extra hardware just so we can work on their project.
Editors, if you need additional hardware to complete projects you want to do, then it’s your responsibility to purchase it. If you can’t afford it, pass on the job. Clients, if a contractor asks you to purchase the tools to do a job, move on, there are plenty of smart creative businessmen and women who are willing to invest in proper system setups to take on your projects.
Now before you freelance editors jump all over me and say “well it’s easy for you to say you’ve got a big facility and all this awesome equipment….” I started my company in the bedroom of my house in 2001 with a $30,000 loan to outfit a spare bedroom with everything I needed to work with anticipated clients. I was also $50,000 in the hole from a failed previous business partnership. So I started this company $80,000 in the hole for a standard definition Final Cut Pro system with a whooping 240GB of RAID storage. I’ve never asked a client to purchase anything just so I can take on a job, if it needs to be purchased, that’s my responsibility.