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Essential Tips for Cancellations & Postponement in Live Action Production

Imagine this: you are deep into pre-production on your latest project. Talent is booked, the location is locked, you just had your Tech Scout, and all of a sudden you get some news that prevents you from filming. You have no choice but to cancel or postpone the shoot! It's a heart stopping moment, but taking an even-keeled approach with an eye on problem-solving will be the only way forward.

Today we are recapping our latest podcast episode, where we tackle the ever-relevant topic of handling cancellations and postponements in live-action production. In this episode, we're thrilled to have a special guest co-host, Jade Forte, a seasoned freelance producer who shares her invaluable insights and experiences with us.

Postponing or Cancelling your Film Shoot

In the unpredictable world of film production, adaptability is key. Our latest podcast dives into the reality that producers face when a much-anticipated project encounters unexpected delays or cancellations. It's a delicate dance to keep client relationships afloat during these times, and we're here to discuss how to navigate these choppy waters with grace.

Expert Insights: Surviving the Production Battlefield

We're joined by Jade, a formidable head of production, who has seen it all in the industry. She understands that when production plans go awry, a producer's ability to act swiftly and strategically is crucial. Jade's mantra is to come to the table with solutions and maintain transparency with clients about the implications of production changes.

The Producer's Safety Net: AICP Guidelines Explained

Our conversation also covers the critical legal and insurance frameworks that protect producers. We break down the AICP guidelines, which outline the responsibilities and financial implications when a shoot is cancelled. These guidelines are an essential tool for producers to manage the unexpected with confidence.

Keeping Perspective in the World of Film Production

Despite the pressures of the industry, it's important to keep in mind that we're ultimately creating art and telling stories. This perspective helps producers navigate the challenges of film production without losing their cool.

Communication Essentials: Jade's Golden Rule

Jade, our esteemed guest, stresses the importance of effective communication. She advises that solidifying or documenting conversations via a direct email is the best approach, and a touch of kindness can go a long way in establishing a connection.

The Heart of Producers Happy Hour

We wrap up the episode with a heartfelt thank you to our listeners, whose engagement is the driving force behind our podcast. Special thanks to our editor Bren Russell and branding expert Christopher Daniels for their exceptional work.

If you've found value in our discussion, please share it with others. Leave us a review, rate our content, and spread the word. As we continue to explore the intricacies of commercial and film production, we invite you to join us for more insights and stories from the happy hour of production life. Here's to your next successful project!

Read the Transcript!

Sister Christian - Imagine this you're deep into prepping for a project. Everything is meticulously planned, every details in place. You're so proud of yourself. And then Bam! The rug is pulled out from under you because the homeowner has a family emergency and you've lost your location, or the celebrity talent demands or reschedule, or a blizzard looms in the horizon. Whatever. The unthinkable thing has happened. So you face a cancellation or postponement. It can be heart stopping in the moment. So what's your next move? Where do you even begin? Today we're tackling the art of navigating cancellations and postponements, not just from the perspective of production and logistics, because you probably got that down, but also through the crucial lens of client management. How you manage these delicate conversations can make or break the entire situation. Your role is to change potential disorder into effective problem solving. Stick around to the end, as we'll also be breaking down the ICP guidelines for handling these challenges. So grab your drink and buckle up.


Lawrence Lewis - You're listening to Producers Happy Hour. I'm Lawrence Lewis.


Sister Christian - and I'm Sister Christian.


Lawrence Lewis - And we're here to help you unravel the complexities of film and commercial production.


Sister Christian - Whether you're a seasoned producer, a production executive, a bitter, or a key part of the production team, we're here to equip you with the insights that I know Lawrence and I wish we had when we started out.


Lawrence Lewis - So you can navigate today's production challenges, conquer those demanding clients, and unlock the magic to seamless production.


Sister Christian - All with a cocktail, of course. So grab a drink, say goodbye to the gatekeepers, and let's dive into the art of producing.


Lawrence Lewis - Sister Christian, I'm really excited about this episode. We have a guest co-host on with us today.


Sister Christian - I know I'm so excited.


Sister Christian - Because Jade is perfect to weigh in on today's topic. She has been Head of production at three different companies. You and I and her. Like we're all at that 20 year plus mark. She has seen it all as well. Like different reasons or reactions from client or how to handle it.


Sister Christian - So she's perfect to weigh in on this.


Lawrence Lewis - Jade, how are you? Hi. Welcome. Are you enjoying happy hour with us?


Jade Forte - yeah. I mean, that expression is 5:00 somewhere. I'm like, the sun is up. Yeah.


Lawrence Lewis - Seriously?


Jade Forte - Apparently you. Yeah.


Sister Christian - So, what are you drinking today?


Jade Forte - The little cocktail that I like to enjoy on a day where I want to be on a beach.


Lawrence Lewis - Haha.


Jade Forte - Okay, it's about two ounces of fresh squeezed lime juice, two ounces of watermelon water, watermelon juice, whatever you prefer. I like the one. It's a little pulpy, five ounces vodka and a splash of soda water.


Sister Christian - That's my kind of drink girl.


Lawrence Lewis - Is there. Do you have a name for this? Is this your own invention?


Jade Forte - It's my own invention. It's what I, you know, had in the fridge one day when it was hot and I was like, oh, this is delicious. You can't taste any of the alcohol in it. It's a.


Lawrence Lewis - Winner.


Sister Christian - Laurence, what are you drinking?


Lawrence Lewis - You know, I like to tie it to the theme of the show cancellations and postponements. I was like, what? What kind of drink brings that to mind? And I thought about airplanes always cancelling and postponing. So I have a paper plane. It's a it's a shaken drink, but it's served up neat in a chilled glass, three quarter ounces of bourbon, three quarter ounces of Aperol, three quarter ounces of amaro, which I'm on an amaro kick right now, and three quarter ounces of lemon juice. And it is delicious. Sister, what about you?


Sister Christian - I'll get to this in a minute, but I had a, a friend and colleague passed away, and so I'm doing, because we both, embrace our white trash roots. I'm going to have a Long Island iced tea today by cutwater.


Lawrence Lewis - Oh, nice. Well. Cheers, everybody.


Sister Christian - Cheers, everyone.


Jade Forte - Cheers!


Sister Christian - I definitely want to dive into today's topic because I have a lot to say.


Sister Christian - Like, so fucking much to say. But first we have a request. You all must know that this podcast and our learning courses and the free resources take a lot of time, energy, focus and a bit of money to put together for you. And it's a lot to juggle when we are still working producers. Believe me, I wish I did not have to work anymore. So if you're within range of the sound of my gorgeous voice, please pick up your phone, go to whatever app you're listening to this episode on, and give us a five star rating and a two sentence review. Just a quick one like, oh my god, they're great. I listen all the time.


Lawrence Lewis - Yeah, it literally will take you 10s it doesn't have to be long. Just let us know what you're getting from the show and why you think it's a worthwhile listen.


Sister Christian - And your review does a couple of important things. One, it lets us know that you're enjoying what we're doing, and it inspires us to keep making the episodes and the learning courses for you because we know we love them.


Sister Christian - We want to make sure that you're loving them. Secondly, it lets the algorithms know that people like this podcast, and then it'll recommend other people to the podcast who are looking for the same community. That you were looking for us.


Lawrence Lewis - Do it right now. Grab your phone, give us a bunch of stars and let people know that this show is worthwhile.


Sister Christian - So, I'm just going to start briefly to say that I learned that Morgan Spurlock passed away today, and I know I he's a director. He got pretty famous by eating a bunch of, you know, McDonald's food and then, like, what it did to his body. Right. So Oscar nominated some people's experiences with him was problematic. Mine was not. I'm not negating anybody else's experience. I'm just wanted to share a couple of fun stories that, of my experience with him, because it really kind of hit me hard today. He's only 53. I know his cancer and cancer is a bitch. So again, like, it just it really is affecting me.


Sister Christian - Lawrence, you've probably heard before me say that. Oh, yeah. Then we had agency client meal the night before the shoot at Hooters.


Sister Christian - Yeah, in.


Sister Christian - Fresno. So that was a more. That was the Morgan Spurlock job. Like when I, when I walked into his offices to meet him, walk in, get into his office, we shake hands, you know, and I was just like, we both look at each other. And I noticed somewhere in his office something that said West Virginia, that I'm like, oh, shit, my mom's from West Virginia. And he was like, where? And we started talking. I was like, oh fuck, we're probably white for white trash cousins. So after that, we just were like in simpatico. Like we could exchange a look and I knew what he was thinking and talking about. One of the very few directors that I, I did not have to change my style or mask around. We were we knew how each other had grown up.


Sister Christian - And what the roots where we came from. And he's smart ass. I'm a smart ass. Like, yeah. So we just had this great connection that I enjoyed working with him. I did not do any documentaries with him. I would only produce when he would do paid commercials type stuff. Right. And so I was definitely that liaison between how you have to handle a client in Video Village versus on your own project, where you can do whatever the fuck you want. He was a definitely a do whatever the fuck you want kind.


Sister Christian - Of director.


Lawrence Lewis - Right? I can.


Sister Christian - Imagine.


Sister Christian - And that for me was so much fun because I, I'm a do whatever the fuck you want kind of producer. So he will be missed for sure. Oh.


Lawrence Lewis - Well, cheers to him.


Sister Christian - You cheers to him.


Lawrence Lewis - Now let's move on to the topic at hand cancellations and postponements. We've all been through it. All three of us in this room have been through it. And it's it can be it can be a bit of a scramble, right? There's a lot of emotions involved.


Lawrence Lewis - There's a lot of ego involved. There's a lot of finger pointing and blame involved, but there's a lot of things that have to get done immediately when the situation presents itself. So where do you begin? And I know you too. Within the past year or so, you've been through it. I think maybe two years ago I went through it. What do you do? Where do you.


Sister Christian - Start? I think that.


Sister Christian - The very first thing you do is you isolate the issue. So let's just call it the day before the shoot. And the homeowner either has a God forbid, a death in the family or caught Covid back in the day, whatever it was. But the call times are just about to go out.


Sister Christian - Oh, God, to.


Sister Christian - Send everybody to this place. So the very first thing you do is you isolate the situation. Okay. Is this a full loss where we're not going to be able to film tomorrow, or can we get the backup house? and so simultaneously, you're working on this with your locations department or whatever the, the, the initial problem is while your partner, you're producing partner or your PM is handling the, the costs of what's about to happen.


Lawrence Lewis - Yeah. Can you still shoot today is is or tomorrow or whenever the plan was.


Sister Christian - The cheapest solution is to shoot that day.


Lawrence Lewis - It's too late to stay on track. Yeah, there's always costs involved. If you're going to push, there's no way around it. You know, when we start talking about client management, that's a big part of the question is the money. So I think getting a handle on the money, like what does this mean to us in terms of the schedule and in terms of money? And do we have the people to put together the team if we have to change the shoot day?


Jade Forte - I mean, it helps if you have, let's say, two locations, a two day shoot, then maybe you are able to switch from day one to day two. Great. Not an issue. Not a problem. It's just a few logistical things. But if you have one location and one shoot day, it really depends on how big the scope of the job. It's 15 people.


Jade Forte - Great. You can pivot and work with that a lot easier than if you have 85 background and 100 crew members and animals and all of these other components in it. Then and when it comes to costs and discussing with people about money, I think sometimes a lot of people seem to forget that the words on the paper don't care what side of the bed you woke up this morning. You need to make a decision. This is how much it's going to cost. I hate to say it, but no one gives a fuck about how you feel. It sucks, but we have to actually deliver something today, or we're going to figure out a day in which we can do it.


Lawrence Lewis - It always seems to me that these decisions need to be made fairly quickly, because the longer you wait, the more it's gonna cost, and people really don't like being pushed into a corner to make these hard decisions. But that's the only way to keep it going, right, Christian?


Sister Christian - Well, so my favourite term in this instance is fully committed.


Sister Christian - Oh yeah, it is.


Sister Christian - The it's even two days before the shoot. I know that there's in the and we'll get to this later. The ICB guidelines where a lot of unions say if you cancel by 2 p.m. the day before. Yeah. Bullshit. Okay. If you want to put on a shoot these days, you have to book people and tell them that they're on a job or you're going to lose good people. So I like to use the term fully committed because it just it takes the emotion out of what's happened. Like, I could blow up and say, I'm sorry, everyone's booked. What the fuck are you talking about? Of course we need to pay them just like no. If you're cancelling, you know, a day or two before the shoot. Costs have been fully committed. So if you want to immediately tell somebody how much it's going to cost to push a day or two, just push a day or two, not a week, you know, just push, push to the next day.


Sister Christian - It is going to cost them the amount that the job originally did to shoot, plus a little bit more. It's like literally the entire costs are fully committed. You might be able to save on equipment, maybe, but when it comes to crew and personnel, all costs are fully committed.


Lawrence Lewis -  Right? I mean, yeah.


Sister Christian - I mean, that's.


Sister Christian - A good non-emotional way of saying.


Sister Christian - It because the.


Sister Christian - Emotions fly in this, for instance, last, I mean, like, it is very hard to call up an agency producer or a client representative to say this has happened. and we're pivoting as fast as we can. These are your three options. It's just hard because people immediate reactions are, did we just lose $200,000?


Lawrence Lewis  - Right. Yeah.


Sister Christian - The answer is yes.


Sister Christian - I mean, that's the answer is yes.


Lawrence Lewis - The answer is yes. And that sucks. But sometimes things happen okay. So isolate the problem. Right. That's the first thing two you said here are your three options. So that's like what is the what are the solutions.


Lawrence Lewis - Right. What are the what are the and and giving options of the solutions are, you know, are a really smart thing to do. Right. Because that way people don't feel like they're backed into a corner.


Sister Christian - Yeah. And I would say Jade, when you were ahead of production and then this was presented to you, what was your like? What what's your rundown of how to present this type of information?


Jade Forte - It depends. There are a lot of other factors that come into play. If let's say it's an act of God. So let's say we're supposed to shoot at the beach. The giant whale, you know, exploded at 2:00 in the morning. And we have to explain to the client that I understand that the coastline is so big, but we only have these logistical things in place here. So the best option for you would to be we don't shoot the ocean, we shoot buildings instead. Here's an option here. Or we can revisit this in a week once the carcass has been removed from the beach.


Jade Forte - Or we can try using a different location, which may delay us one day. Or we could try to delay our call time and put like you give them as many options as you can that you know you can execute. Don't promise anything that is not doable or is going to cost more money. When you give people more than one option or sometimes more than three, it lets them really contemplate what's going to be the best financial decision for us to make, and how is this going to affect our timeline with like, you have to go through post when your delivery is all of these other factors that come into play. So I think that yes, here's the issue to hear your options. Here's what we can do. Here's what, here's what it's going to cost you. And you have 48 hours to make a decision or four minutes. No. Tell us what you want us to do.


Sister Christian - Do you tell the client the moment that you find out, or do you wait and make sure you have three options? This is what's happened.


Sister Christian - And here are some solutions, because I feel that if you tell them before you have proposed solutions, I mean, like I guess solutions can be, you know, like up to the eye of the beholder.


Sister Christian - Whether you're calling a solution or not.


Sister Christian - But I'm of the, the.


Sister Christian - The the.


Sister Christian - Tendency to try to fix it because why alarm somebody if you can actually fix it while you're trying to fix it? You're also getting scenarios of how to fix it. If you can't like some solutions that don't involve original fixing, then you go to the client a few hours after you've heard the information and say, and then also attach some worst case scenario numbers to them too.


Jade Forte - I mean, I agree, when you're planning a shoot anyway, you have in the back of your head, especially where it is time of year. What's involved? You have to have a backup plan of if shit hits the fan, what am I going to do? Know what your relationship with your client and agency are? If you can be honest with them and say, hey agency producer, something really bad has happened, we're going to try to find a solution.


Jade Forte - Give me until 3:00 to alert the client that we may have to pivot and do something else. Great. If you have a panic stricken, high strung agency producer or client who, if you sneeze in the wrong direction, loses their mind, then yes, you better have that buttoned up before you even let them know what is going on. Also, if you have a client or an agency you're working with, that is I want to sue you happy. You also need to make sure that you have any legal things in place as well. And you read that contract and go through it again with a fine tooth comb before you say anything.


Sister Christian - Yeah, like go back to your soap and read it and that.


Lawrence Lewis - And that's when you definitely if you have one of those kind of clients or agents, especially if you're a freelance line producer, you need to get your copy and your EP in on those conversations if they are one of the sensitive types. I had a job not too long ago where, yeah, it was just like anything I said that was, you know, well, we're working on it.


Lawrence Lewis - It came down to like, legal. Well, you know, we won't pay or we'll sue or blah blah blah. And it's like, wow, where is this coming from? But that's how some people respond. And if that that's kind of client you have getting important people at the company involved in those conversations. If you're a freelancer, are really important.


Sister Christian - We used to consider whether insurance, if you're working with a fairly large agency and you're filming outside, they usually will ask you for a weather day contingency so that they're aware of how much will this will do. I've seen that fall off in. In recent.


Sister Christian - Years, but.


Lawrence Lewis - I know why it's fallen off. It's gotten so expensive, and the latitude of what could happen is getting smaller and smaller. I think it's just a it's a it's a bet that they don't want to take anymore. The insurance companies.


Sister Christian - My.


Sister Christian - Experience that you should be warning your client if you're filming outside about whether from the moment the job books and what they understand is whether and what your understanding of weather could be two different things.


Sister Christian - So having those definitions in place or good like if we're if we're filming rain or shine because it doesn't matter. Fantastic. Let's talk about it. But if it's something as bad as snow or a hurricane's coming or blizzard, like, who knew that I was going to have a blizzard in Texas? But it fucking happened. And, you know, sitting around with 20 people on a phone call saying, are we about to lose half $1 million and not have a promo for our new TV show that's coming out and the answer is yes, you are. You are about to lose this money. So what do you want me to do? And you always lay it on. Don't cancel. You can't make the call. You have to allow them.


Sister Christian - To make the call.


Lawrence Lewis - Lightning is a really, really tough one for clients to get their heads around because it looks like you can shoot through it. We don't see lightning on camera, but you've got these metal rods sticking up in the air with a bunch of electricity tied to them.


Lawrence Lewis - Yeah, you need to shut down.


Sister Christian - Have you ever wanted to take your commercial film production.


Sister Christian - Skills to the next level?


Lawrence Lewis - I always do. Based on that, we've got something special for you. We want you to join us for our very first in-person producers boot camp.


Sister Christian - That's right. It's super exciting. You're hearing it here first on Sunday, April 28th, 2024. Coming up very soon in Santa Monica, California. We, Lawrence and I are hosting a half day immersive deep dive into the art of commercial film production.


Lawrence Lewis - I mean, talk about community and mentorship, right? We're finally got someone kicked us in the ass. His name's Jordan Brady, and he's like, just fucking do it. So we're doing it. We're gonna be in person and we're going to we're gonna import all of our knowledge into your brain's limited spots are available just to make sure that everyone gets personalized attention. It's going to be a very small group. So grab your seat now.


Sister Christian - And we're so fortunate to be presenting alongside Jordan Brady's commercial directing bootcamp.


Sister Christian - This workshop is your ticket to mastering the intricacies of producing stellar content at top tier levels.


Sister Christian - That's right.


Lawrence Lewis - Elevate your filmmaking skills with insights covering everything from deconstructing director's treatments to negotiating agency and client relationships, all from the producer's point of view.


Sister Christian - This course runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for solid hours and is only for 95. Hell, that's a bargain. Plus, it's the day after Jordan Brady's Director's Bootcamp, so you can make it a weekend of learning and growth.


Sister Christian - And as.


Lawrence Lewis - A special bonus, we're offering a $100 discount to everyone who is participating in Jordan Brady's commercial directing Boot.


Sister Christian - Camp. Head over to.


Sister Christian - Producers Happy to secure your spot.


Lawrence Lewis - Today I want to know what you guys are doing. You don't J do. You said something I want to circle back to. That's really interesting because I mean, this definitely comes from experience as a as a producer, you always want to kind of have some kind of backup in your head. We invent problems so we can have the backup plan ready to go.


Lawrence Lewis - Do you see that in your position as a group, that producers of a certain level kind of always have some sort of fall-back plan? If some some shit hits the fan somewhere, that they are quick on their feet to be able to like, here's what we're going to do, here's how we're going to fix it and keep moving forward.


Jade Forte - Honestly, again, it's a case by case thing. I came up in the industry as if you don't have plan B and C, and if you're not thinking ahead and anticipating and knowing things, saying things your director is going to want or what could potentially happen, then you're not doing your job correctly. So when I'm bidding jobs or when we're prepping jobs for it's handed over to a production team, it's like, okay, well, I want to know what my client agency is. You know, top three choices are and keep those other two choices in your back pocket. And you communicate that to your producer of anticipate looking at the weather, looking at world situations, looking at activity that are going to happen in the city.


Jade Forte - Just know that we might have to move to B or C. Some producers, like when you're on a stage like, oh, it's a stage, who cares? Nothing's nothing's going to happen. Have a backup. Because why do you think there's a spare tire in your car? Like always be prepared for what you don't think is going to happen is going to happen. A lot of times when there are moving parts to it. Yes. Your producer will, you know, know, hey, we haven't locked in a date if we're using celebrity talent, like recently, I've had a job where a celebrity was like, I'm not going to show up. Okay, great. Well, we still have to shoot everything anyway because.


Sister Christian - Contractually.


Jade Forte - Put you in an post. Like, if we have to, yes, we have to shoot this project. But it's something that you as an hop and as a producer and as a PM, as a friend, as anything you try to tell people, always prepare for a backup plan.


Jade Forte - You have to. Why do you think that when you go and shoot Lancaster, you have three camera bodies?


Sister Christian - Yeah, it's the.


Jade Forte - Same sort of thing.


Lawrence Lewis - I want to talk more about client management and specifically this, the blame game that goes on. Everybody wants to know why. And whose fault is it, both of you I'd like to hear how do you kind of reroute that thinking to problem solving.


Sister Christian - So I think that there is very important to have the facts on your side. So you have spoken to everybody in the chain of command. You're not just taking somebody's word for it. You're actually discussing with each person. So let's go back to location. Say it is the homeowner, right. You are in say it's LA salon. The houses out here have agents.


Sister Christian  - Yes, this is true.


Sister Christian - So not only have you spoken to the location manager, who is probably. Received the phone call from the homeowner. You've spoken to the house agent. You've spoken to everybody in the chain of command to get the stories.


Sister Christian - You have all the facts in front of you so that you can counter any emotion with straight facts. We've touched on before how hard it is to talk finances with people in general. It just is hard. Like, you know, it's hard to talk about money. It's hard to talk about overages. It just is because it's somewhere inside you're like, oh, they're going to. Are they going to question me or are they going to like have a are they going to blame me for this? It doesn't matter what you need to have are the facts, and you have to take out all the fodder because, you know, like you may hear stories around why it happened and how it might have happened or. Or like, oh, I should have known this before now. And you have to understand that only the facts to pass along don't lapse into gossip.


Sister Christian - Right.


Sister Christian - The craft service talk, you know, like don't lapse into like, well this is what I heard or like you know, the homeowner said this, that grandma actually died two days ago but waited to tell us because maybe the funeral, like, did.


Sister Christian  -  None of that matters. Like, you just have to go in with straight facts, three sentences at most, and then stick to those three sentences and then say the. But however, our backup location is available and willing to have us come, so bonus or the new one will be available three days from now. And this is how much it'll cost, which is your preference. That would be my thoughts behind it. Because you can only counteract emotions or blame with facts.


Sister Christian - That makes.


Lawrence Lewis - Sense. Jade what do you how do you what do you think.


Jade Forte - I agree 100% with this that.


Sister Christian - There's so much behind that sigh by the way.


Jade Forte - There's so much.


Sister Christian - This is.


Jade Forte - Beyond our human control. And when you say that this is beyond our human control, this is beyond our control as a company, this is beyond our control as a production team. This is something that we had absolutely nothing to do with. But we are trying to fix an issue for you. So don't jump down my fucking throat and tell me how angry you are.


Jade Forte - I understand that you are, but shut the fuck up and listen to the solutions that I can offer to you. And I know that it's frustrating. I know that no one wants to lose money. Oh my goodness, it's horrible. But we're not solving world hunger here. It's a.


Sister Christian - Fucking commercial.


Jade Forte - Like, who gives a shit? So I understand that this is difficult, but this is something that we did not have control over. We're trying to wrangle these wet kittens for you. And here's what we can do for you and let us know. Like, if you need to take a minute, if you need to take a beat, if you need, consider it. If you need to scream, shout, cry. Absolutely. If you need to punch someone in the throat like we're here to take that so that we can get through the emotional side of it and get down to business.


Sister Christian - I've said this before like I see your face, so tell me everything you're thinking right now in real time.


Sister Christian - I can handle it. Just let me know, because I'm sure that I've felt exactly what you're about to say in me trying to come up with solutions for this. So say it and I'll explain why. Yes or no, that what you're about to say is going to be able to happen.


Sister Christian - Right?


Sister Christian - And that I've thought of it. Believe me, I have thought of what you're about to say. So please just dump it on me right now. Just dump it. And that works too, because there heard Lawrence. How do you handle it when.


Lawrence Lewis - People are focused on finding out what went wrong or what the blame is or who to blame? I was in New York and I was doing an experiential job, and we did not get the permit we wanted. It was around Halloween. And so there was there was, rumors of potential civil unrest.


Sister Christian - Yeah, like force majeure.


Sister Christian - Terrorism. Like government shit. You cannot control.


Sister Christian - That. And so everyone was out there.


Lawrence Lewis - You know, the the the questions from, you know, the agency side was always like, well, why do they say we were okay? Why did they give us a permit? Why did they approve us? Why didn't they tell us that they maybe they couldn't be approve us, why didn't blah blah blah? And I said, you know what? Nothing's going to change the situation.


Lawrence Lewis - Finding out the answers to all these things will work on. I'll work on that in the background, but getting the answers to those questions are not going to change our situation. And the longer we sit around to find those answers, it's going to cost us more money and give us less options to fix it. So let's prioritize solving the problem first, and I'll do what I can to get you all the information behind the scenes of later. Right now we need to fix the problem, and that seems to work as.


Sister Christian - Good as you think your relationship is. Or as much as you felt like, you know, you and the agency producer are like fucking long lost sisters bitch. You know, like, as much as you think it might be that when there is hundreds of thousands of dollars in the line, that shit goes right out the door. They're going to be like, oh, but you said this.


Sister Christian - Did I say that?


Sister Christian - Did I say.


Sister Christian - That?


Jade Forte - That's why I love doing everything in writing.


Jade Forte - I'm going to text you. I'm going to email you. I'm going to regroup our conversation. I'm going to record you even though you don't know it. So I can take notes later so that everything can be traceable. And, well, this is what was said. This is what you discussed. This is the solution you came up with. This is what you wanted. This is what happened. Here's a paper trail in case you have to use it for some reason. Always for the love of God, get everything in writing.


Sister Christian - That is the hottest tip that we can ever say, because the emotions and everything, all the discussions that are happening in the moment, will not be remembered three weeks later when you're trying to clean it up. Yeah, or even two days later when you're trying to clean it up, people will forget that they've agreed to.


Sister Christian - Something even.


Lawrence Lewis - Over text. It's hard to search your texts and find those conversations. Those conversations need to be backed up by email because those are dated, documented, stamped, sealed, delivered, and you can find them.


Jade Forte - And if you can record zoom meetings, because that's another thing that people love to do, is say something on a zoom and then pretend this is, you hung up. But he never said it. And it's like, let's just play that back.


Lawrence Lewis - Yeah.


Sister Christian - So then I also know that my experience whenever I'm handling people can be completely different than Laurence Experience or Jade's experience. So I'd love to understand a little bit more Jade about your experience in these types of things.


Jade Forte - Sometimes you can be dealing with a client who culturally may be speaking a different language and have a different sense of how you need to explain things to them, how you need to approach things, and how you need to handle them so that you are not offending anyone. And some people you know are new to this business. This is the first time they're doing a live action shoot. This is the first time they're doing a commercial. This is the first time they're doing something with athletes. You never know. So you have to be a bit sensitive and understand that business is not personal.


Jade Forte - I'm going to say something to you, but I want you to understand that this is something that needs to be said, and it has nothing to do with who you are as a person. Please don't take it that way. And if you do, that's on you. I'm sorry.


Lawrence Lewis - The amount of fear of being honest, direct, helpful. I feel like so many companies, people specifically are afraid, are so afraid, and it prevents them from being honest and real and sensitive and caring and all of those things that can make this business that we work in a little more humane.


Sister Christian - Yeah. I mean, I completely agree with that. And I think that it's scary because we as production freelance people are expected to be perfect every single time to produce, and we're never allowed to say no. So when the when it comes to the point where you have to say no, we're not versed in how to do it in a humane and competent way.


Sister Christian - I mean, our.


Jade Forte - Industry sort of sits like in this weird place where it's creative and you have to adjust things and change your mind and be prepared.


Jade Forte - And then the corporate side, I mean, we wear a T-shirt and flip flops and jeans to work. Sometimes you get to work from home, so having to navigate a creative side with the corporate side and knowing what language to use and how to approach situations is it's challenging. It really is. Not every company has like an HR department. Not every company has a lawyer on retainer. You know, sometimes you're going to have to go outside to find a way to communicate things and not having trust. It's just the way like corporate America is. And when you have emotional things, because creative people tend to be sometimes a little bit more emotional, you just have to know how to navigate between the two. And I mean, I've been called like cold and robotic when I've had. Say something like, look, I'm sorry that you are upset about this, but it is 4:00 and you need to make a fucking decision right now, because at 5 p.m., this is going to cost you three times more than I am telling you.


Jade Forte - So shit. Or get off the pot, or I'm going to kick you off and make the decision for you. I'm giving you 15 minutes. Do you want to talk it through? Do you? Do you need more information? Do you need me to lay something out for you? Happy to do it because of 455. The clock is ticking, and when it hits 5 p.m., I'm either going to save you a bunch of money, or it's going to cost you a buttload. And don't come back to me and tell me how upset you are about it, because I gave you more than one chance to make a decision. We are dealing with people. We are dealing with schedules. This can't wait for you to figure out how you feel when it comes to ones and zeros in a bank account, just make a choice and don't have me hold people indefinitely because it's disrespectful. And don't disrespect people's time because I'm trying to not disrespect your money.


Sister Christian - My heart.


Jade Forte - But that's just the way it is.


Sister Christian - My heart right now is so big because I mean, like, it just you've spoken directly to my soul. Lawrence has been told that by agency producers that he wasn't showing enough emotion or enough panic because of the situation. He was like, why? I'm just being calmly.


Sister Christian - Telling you what's going on. Yeah.


Lawrence Lewis - Is that what I need to do?


Sister Christian - Helpful.


Sister Christian - If I were to yell and scream and cry.


Jade Forte - Yeah.


Sister Christian - Right. Which my tactic is to match energy.


Sister Christian  - So all you want me to be outraged? No fucking problem. Here we go. I can't but like I'll put on a show for you if that's what you want I'm sure. Like I love putting on a.


Sister Christian - Show but it's so true. It's like like reality is about to slap you in the face and I understand this, but you. But your experience level as a client or agency should. I mean, like this is this is I've provided you with the information you need to know.


Lawrence Lewis - Jade, that was amazing. Thank you for for sharing your perspective.


Lawrence Lewis - I, I want to shift over to the ICP guidelines and for our listeners who are maybe a bit newer, don't know what ICP is, is the the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. They represent a lot of the companies as a membership. You can you can be a part of. But what they've done and you don't have to be a member to follow these guidelines. You can use these guidelines in your contracts, in your shows, or you can even just say, we follow the ICP guidelines for postponements and cancellation and put that in your contract.


Sister Christian - Everybody uses this as their guideline. This is absolutely the standards that agencies are non-union or union. And same with production companies, union, non-union. They all use this as their guidelines.


Lawrence Lewis - I'm gonna put this all together in a little producers Happy Hour PDF. You can download it on our website. Producers happy hour dot com. We'll have it there for you. So if you aren't familiar with them you can download them and you have them. So that way going forward there's a plan in place for these types of situations.


Lawrence Lewis - I'll go through them real quickly. A cancellation or postponement occurs during or is given 1 to 10 working days prior to the commencement of the shoot. Your first filming day, the contracting client, whoever that might be, agency or claim direct, is liable to the production company for three things all out-of-pocket expenses, all costs to date or committed costs. Maybe you haven't sent the check yet, but you've signed a contract and you owe money to some vendor number two full directors fees as bid. So whatever that line is in your ICP bid budget. Number three full production fee on the job as bid. So whatever your markup is, that's that's committed. The director's fee is committed. And anything that you've committed to out of pocket spent or have written a contract to that is committed. So there is a little bit of savings that they might have at that point. It's not a lot, but most cost will be committed that at that point.


Sister Christian - Right.


Sister Christian - You should look at your contract because some agencies will ask that you back up.


Sister Christian - You're out of pocket costs even though you've done a firm bid totally like you, which you don't have to show cost for firm bid versus cost. Plus, in these instances you may be required to show invoices, which sucks, but you know, at least you're going to get reimbursed for all of your out-of-pocket costs.


Lawrence Lewis - The other provision they make in this document is that if it's more than ten working days prior to the to the first filming day, the contracting client is liable for all out-of-pocket costs. Same thing, but only 50% of the director's fee is bid and only 50% of the production fee as bid. So there's a little more savings there. If it's more than ten working days away from the first filming day. And then there's other, you know, more descriptive language in here as well. But, you know, we'll put this up on our website, producers happy so you all can have it.


Sister Christian - These guidelines are not unreasonable. And so if you start your job out by, you know, like adhering to these guidelines and again knowing that postponements for 99% of the time or cancellations are not anybody's fault, it is facts that have occurred that you need to react to.


Sister Christian - Yeah.


Sister Christian - Like nobody is on purpose trying to take your fucking job. If you go in with that attitude, I feel like you can navigate this in a way that is beneficial to everybody.


Jade Forte - Things happen, you know, it's just life, not you can prepare for the worst. Just deal with it.


Lawrence Lewis - It's just film production, right?


Sister Christian - As much money as there is at stake, we're just we're just advertising here, folks.


Lawrence Lewis - So, Jay, thank you so much for being our very first co-hosts on today's episode.


Sister Christian - Of course.


Lawrence Lewis - Is there a way for people to get a hold of you if they want to hire you or talk to you?


Jade Forte - Yeah. don't call me number one. Number two, I don't have social media for a reason. And number three, the easiest way to reach me is the most basic email address on the face of the planet. It's my name, Jade Forte, at So write it down. Tell your friends, tell your mom and tell your dog. Send me photos of your puppies because I love them.


Jade Forte - Yeah, and if you're a non crazy person and a stalker, then maybe I'll give you my phone number.


Lawrence Lewis - Yeah, sister, how about you?


Sister Christian - And if people want to get you Lawrence, I'll do they.


Lawrence Lewis - Thanks everyone.


Sister Christian - Thanks for joining producers happy hour.


Lawrence Lewis - If you got value from this episode, please don't keep it to yourself. Spread the love by rating and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts.


Sister Christian - And let's be honest, we wouldn't have the show without you. Your feedback helps us to keep making this amazing content.


Lawrence Lewis - This show is brought to you by our editor, Brent Russell at


Sister Christian - Com and Christopher Daniels, who is our branding expert and one fabulous treatment designer.


Lawrence Lewis - So until next time, always remember making.


Sister Christian - It is hard.




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