Welcome to the August issue!
I can’t believe the summer is nearly over. Things are hopping here at Family Legacy Video®, so much so that I struggled to find time for this month’s newsletter! I thought I’d take a few moments this month to touch on the subject of working with clients and storytellers who are outside the Tucson area.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s e-Newsletter. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone toll-free (888.662.1294) with any questions or comments you have.
Cheers! – Steve Pender
Making a long distance video biography relationship work.
In many ways, technology has certainly “shrunk” our world. All you have to do these days to get in touch with someone on the other side of the world is dial a phone, log on to Skype or send an e-mail or text. It’s easy as pie. But lets say, after doing some research, you find that the video biographer you want to hire is located in another part of the country or the world, like Tucson, Arizona? How easy will it be to work with someone who may be hundreds or thousand miles away?
The short answer is that a long distance relationship with a video biographer can work quite well. In fact, I’ve worked with clients from coast to coast and points in-between. But there are some things to consider when looking for a professional outside your local area.
Might as well deal with this issue first. Not a week goes by that I don’t get a call from a prospective client asking me if I can travel to their location outside Arizona. When I say yes, the next question is usually, “Does travel add to the cost?” Quite honestly, it does. A video biographer living and working in your area doesn’t have to bear the expenses that come with booking airfare, hotel rooms and rental cars. Your local pro also won’t need to spend an extra day’s worth of time traveling to your location and back home. In all fairness, it’s only right to reimburse the video biographer you hire for travel expenses. Personally, I don’t “mark up” travel – I just pass along the actual costs to the client. I can either add the costs to the agreed-upon budget or subtract them from the budget. Let’s say I have a budget of $20,000 and travel expenses of $1,000. To be able to devote all of the $20,000 to the video, I would add the $1,000. The client would then pay a total of $21,000. If the client can’t go as high as $21,000, I can subtract travel expenses, leaving $19,000 to devote to the actual video production.
Another point to keep in mind is that if members of the video biography crew (camera, sound, make up) are traveling along with your video biographer, they need to be reimbursed for their travel time. A travel day is typically half their day rate.
Staying in contact with clients is crucial. It’s always fun chatting face-to-face, but when working long distance I can consult with clients and conduct preinterviews over the phone or via Skype just as effectively as I can in person. I can’t say the same thing about e-mail. When I want to send a reminder or ask for a small bit of information, e-mail is fine. For anything more than that, I prefer to pick up the phone and call.
Clients have been shipping me photos, singly and in albums, for years. Nothing has ever been lost. I do advise folks to make sure the items they send me are well-wrapped and cushioned to guard against breakage. While shipping long distance has worked fine, I understand that some families may be uncomfortable with the thought of packing up their old photos and trusting them to FedEx. That’s why I always ask my long distance clients if they have any photos or other items that they aren’t comfortable shipping – or that wouldn’t be practical to send to me. Knowing that, I can build in some extra time before or after the interview taping to scan or shoot the keepsakes on location.
So don’t think you have to work with a particular video biographer just because he or she happens to be local. Whether the pro who fits your needs is based in another part of your state or across the country, a long distance relationship can certainly work for you.
– Steve Pender