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Hi Everyone,


I would like to ask for your advise on this matter. I have been in this business for the last two years and most of my work has been with local Theatre groups. The situation that I find myself in now is that back in late may this year I was asked to do the sound for a local company for a show in November this year. so I went to the first production meeting to find out what was going on and what was needed then I went away and got quotes from local hire company's for the kit I did not have I told the company the price of what it was going to cost for me and the kit and it went to the committee meeting to see if they wanted me to do the sound and they came back to me at the next meeting and said they did and to book the hire kit.

now last week I receive a letter from the company saying that they no longer need me as they have got someone else to do it for a lower price (one of my so called friendshttp://www.blue-room.org.uk/style_emoticons/default/pissedoff.gif) as they could not afford my price as other show cost have gone up. The problem I did not have a written contract with them as I have worked with them before with no problem and have never needed on but now I have lost a weeks work and have no money for the time I have wasted on this show attending production meeting and making calls to get quotes so do you think that I should still bill them for the time wasted. As I am thinking that as the production meeting was minuted then this in tern is a contract between us.


please let me know your thoughts on this and also could someone let me have a look at one of they contract layout to give me some idea how to do one so I don't get in this position again.


many thanks

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My understanding of english law is that a spoken agreement is a contract. the usual problem is proving what was said, but it sounds like you have that covered

I have to say at this point that im not qualified lin law, so any advice I give is simply my opinion and should be treated as such.


so, I would go for it, this kind of thing really annoys me

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I suppose you would have to see how it was written in the minutes. I did a set design job for a company went away and spent hours designing and bulding models etc for the woman to just start ignoring me... also a friend. Got nothing out of her at all and was not legally involved.


How many quotes did you get?

Were they logged?

Did you invoice them for the hours you spent?


It is a written contract if you have the neccesary documentation to prove you were involved to some degree in the sound for that production however if you do take them to court then they will asses what was written in the minutes and by whom. I hope you get something out of it though, I hate people who do that and mates aren't mates if they start undercutting you in my opinion.

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It all boils down to you deciding if you wish to work for them again. I know from my own experiences with amateur companies (I am assuming this is what you're talking about) that loyalty is skin deep when there is a committee involved. I would invoice them for all out of pocket expenses, and the agreed fee. If the minutes are an accurate reflection of what was agreed in the meeting, you could use this as your evidence to substantiate the verbal contract. In fact, I'd bet that many of the people present would not be willing to deny the arrangement had been made.


So invoice them with a payment date - 30 days or whatever you'd agreed. Personally, I'd not use the job you turned down at this stage, because actually getting evidence of loss of income is really difficult. Presumably you got some kind of quote from the hire companies which again could be used to substantiate your involvement if it comes to the small claim court. I'd not get personally involved at this stage, just invoice for the agreed fee and see what happens.


I'd word the invoice something like this - kind of polite, but showing you mean business.


Sound services for XYZ as agreed at the committee meeting 1/9/2008 £XXX


Equipment ordered on your behalf as requested has been cancelled.

Any hire charges incurred as a result of this cancellation will be invoiced separately.


The contract between ZXY productions and Audio Angels was entered into in good faith and Audio Angels were willing to complete the contract as agreed. The agreed fee is now payable due to the cancellation of the contract by ZXY productions.


In truth, they'll be majorly narked, not being used to how the real world works, and taking them to court will be unpleasant, and you get two 'tags'. The first one says to people that you won't be messed with, and the other says that you are treating the job like any other business bad debt. Most societies have the dosh tucked away, but I'd check with a past committee member that may know on the quiet, just in case they genuinely don't have the money - even if they don't, most societies have NODA style constitutions which make the officers of the society liable for debts incurred - something they won't possibly even realise.



I've done this kind of thing twice - not for cancelled jobs, but for jobs where budgets were cut at the last minute and they cancelled some gear and my time. One paid up on receipt of the bill and haven't used me again, and the other negotiated a reduced fee which I accepted. I continue to work for this one from time to time.


Your call really.


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Paul is quite right - production by committee is a real pain to get through - although the committee may be made up of theatrical types, they often won't have a high representation from anyone technical, so tend to balk quite easily at the figures involved with kitting out even a moderate show with the right equipment.


I suspect that your quote was placed on the table and one of the luvvies with a loud voice drew breath through clenched teeth and shook his head. Without really getting an understanding of what said quote would entail.

Sure - someone else, if given your figures, can ALWAYS undercut the price, either by using poorer quality kit, or reducing quantities (which of course you could possibly have matched). But that's just the way things happen, unfortunately.

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I'd also be "discussing" the matter with the "friend" who undercut you!


If you can manage to resist the obvious "result" that their actions should bring them, then I'd want to ask why they felt it acceptable to do that to a fellow professional, let alone one who was/is a "friend".

I'd also be making it very clear that you won't hesitate to do the same to them in future and that could be assured that you'd be letting fellow professionals know of their "business practices".


People who are willing to go to such lengths to get themselves a job need to be named and shamed.


The sooner we remove the vagaries of "unpaid work experience" and it's bed-felow "the work thief" from this industry, the sooner we'll all be getting reasonable conditions and remuneration for the incredible amount of hours and sweat we put into it - and we won't have to fight for it, it will become standard practice!

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Following on from this topic , I would be interested to hear comments from some of the work that is advertised on StageJobsPro.


Bearing in mind that this is meant to be a professional site for "people in the industry", some of the jobs and the pay is just laughable.


For example, one job - marked as a professional gig purely involving LX opping for about 12 shows AND to be present for the all day x 2 tech and dress were paying just £200 flat. At a rough guess, lets say its in total about 40 hours work!! Work that out per hour!!


And there seem to be more and more jobs on there for "expenses only" but still demanding masses of time.


Standerds of pay need a damn good shake up IMO. The vast majority of people arnt charity workers!! We have morgages and bills to pay, so why do companys still expect people to work their butts off for pitance- just because its theatre.


Dont get me wrong, im happy to do a good 12 hour hard days work, but for a realistic wage.!

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There seems to be a bit of a gray area when it comes to professional companies working for/with amateur theatre groups. I am an amateur dabbler in lighting and sound and having started with one local group have found myself being approached by a number of other societies to help out. I generally help out whenever I can and as an amateur I don't charge for that help.


Now the thing is I know there is at least one company locally who specialise in providing professional technical services to amateur companies. I recently discovered that this company list one of the groups who have approached me for help as being customers of theirs. I feel really bad that I may be inadvertently stealing their livelihood but I was given to believe that this group had nobody available to help.


I don't want the hassle of going professional and running a business to do what is basically my hobby, but at the same time I don't want to put other people out of work by undercutting them (being free is about as much of an undercut as you can manage). As I say it's all a bit fuzzy around the edges really.

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On that note being a newbie ish I worked for a proffesional company, mentioning no names, who were more than happy to work with a local musical theatre group as they said it earnt them as much as working with proffessionals. I believe it set the group back somewhere in the region of £3000 pounds for a weeks support of lx, sound etc with only two guys on the job and the equpiment being quite dated (no automation). I suppose when people are willing to pay such prices even as amateurs to put a show on then they are going to take any quote that comes cheaper especially when the group is paying royalties, band members and trying to make a little for the company so forth.


As stagemanagement said though I would be seriously considering what friendship is in the future. A friend may not put food on the table even if they should be considering it.



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I don't comment on here that often, but I think in cases like this it’s important for people to learn good and bad ways of doing things. We started small and are now a good sized company with good growth over the last few years and I can assure you what’s happened to you happens alot.


You have tendered for work, got a verbal go ahead and then been let down. As I see it, without a purchase order from them you won’t be seeing much money, your time fighting them for the money could be better spent by wiping them off your list and putting yourself out there for more work.


Also don’t see it as time wasted. Firstly you have learnt that you don't have friends when it comes down to putting food on the table, and also you have learnt about contracts. (These lessons you have learnt at the cost of a weeks lost work, some folk learn them at the cost of a small house.)


Sometimes contracts can seem awkward to setup if you have a good relationship with someone, but the only people who will not want to sign one, are the ones who would shaft you and allow others in at the last minute.


I would also say that you should extend the lesson you have learnt and ask for a proportion of your fee in advance. If you are paying deposits, crew and various other costs, the last thing you want is no money at all after the gig. We have been stitched up by bankrupt companies and dodgy promoters, but never end up very out of pocket, as we cover any real costs in our deposits.


When we phone alot of companies asking for prices on things and they often want to know if we have received quotes elsewhere, and if they can see them (which they can’t). This happens, my advice would be get used to it, don't get hung up on each job thinking its going to be the one that makes you rich (although its often hard not to get a bit excited about good sized jobs), and never spend lots of time on jobs that wont pay deposits or sign contracts.


Whatever else happens, always pay your crew a good wage, on time and as agreed. Even if it puts you at a loss, that’s your mistake not theirs.


Hope that helps some.

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I would just like to say I completely agree with the above. The most important thing anybody who owns a business has to do is pay there staff on time and the right amount because theres no way quicker to much your business up, then by no one wanting to work for you and there for not be able to run the business.
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Despite the bad taste it leaves in your mouth, in reality you had done no more work than often happens to assess a job and quote it properly. The cancellation did not affect the work to that point for most people. If you are out of pocket, fine bill them for hire cancellations, or if you turned down a paid job for the same time period, and cannot now refill the week, yes they get billed. Otherwise move on with your life.



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