Video production contract: why you need it & how to write it

You’ve got a killer video concept, and you’re ready to bring it to life. 

But before you hit ‘Record,’ have you thought about the legal side of things? 

GIF Source: Giphy

Video production contracts might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but that doesn’t mean you should skip them. These contracts define outcomes, set expectations, and protect everyone involved–you, your client, and of course, the art. 

And as a bonus, having a contract makes you look like a total pro in front of your client (and who doesn’t wanna look good, right?). 

So in this article, we’ll break down exactly why having a contract is so crucial and give you some tips on ensuring you’re covered. 

So grab some popcorn (and maybe a beer if it’s been a long day), and dive headfirst into the fascinating world of video production contracts!

Table of contents

What is a video production contract?

If you’re like most video production companies, you’re always looking for ways to improve your workflow and make your life easier. 

One way to make your workflow smoother than a perfectly buttered bagel is drafting a video production contract – also known as a videography contract.

A video production contract is a legal agreement between a video production company or videographer and a client. 

It lays it all out – the scope of the work, the budget, when the project will be completed, and everything else you need to ensure things go off without a hitch. 

While the contract is usually fairly straightforward, there are a few details you shouldn’t miss:

  • Be clear about what services you’re providing: The last thing you want is for the client to be surprised by anything you include (or don’t include) in the final product.
  • Charge a fair price for your hard work: No need to undercharge and lose money on a project, but don’t want to overcharge and risk pricing yourself out of the market.
  • Include a timeline for completing the project: This’ll help keep you and the client on track and give everyone a clear understanding of expectations.
  • Get everything in writing: A legal document protects both parties in case of any disputes down the road and legal action – yikes! – needs to be taken. 

That said, here’s why having a video production agreement is the bee’s knees.

Why you should have a video production agreement

First, it ensures that both parties are clear about the scope of the project, the video production services involved, and the expectations.

When both parties agree on the goals and expectations of a shoot, you’re setting yourself up for a beautiful working relationship. It’s like finding that one coworker who always refills the coffee pot when it’s running low.

Pure bliss, my friends.

Moreover, having a contract protects both your and your client’s rights. It guards against misunderstandings or disputes between the client and the service provider that may arise during the project.

Payment terms, the storyboard, video services, intellectual property ownership, personal delivery, and more are usually outlined and detailed throughout the agreement.

A contract provides financial protection for both parties involved, too. If one party has to cancel the project halfway through, the contract can stipulate how any money that has been paid so far will be refunded.

Finally, a contract shows that you are professional and take your business seriously. This can build trust between you and your client, which is essential for a successful working relationship. 

Okay, so you know that video contracts are important. Here’s what they should include.

8 things to include in your video contract

You’re pouring your heart and soul into a project, giving it your absolute best. But alas, life has a funny way of throwing curveballs, and things just don’t go according to plan. Sound familiar? 

When faced with unexpected hurdles, a contract template is an unsung hero that can swoop in to save the day

That’s why it’s important your videography services agreement includes things like:

Text-based graphic listing the eight elements of a video production contract, including fundamentals, scope of work, responsibilities, milestones, deliverables, payment terms, ownership, and termination clauses.

#1: Fundamentals – introducing the two parties

So, here’s the deal: When it comes to terms and conditions, both parties must agree on the same page.

And can prove it with their written consent.

The contract should introduce its key players: the client and the video production company (or independent contractor). This introduction should clearly state who they are and spell out their roles in the project. We want to eliminate any confusion about who’s responsible for what.

Then, provide an overview of the agreement, covering all the terms both parties have agreed to. Think of it as a roadmap to success. By laying it all out upfront, you’ll ensure everyone knows their obligations, from deliverables to payment and payment schedules. No surprises down the road!

Pro tip: Don’t forget to ask for an electronic signature. It’s the cherry on top, ensuring both parties are legally bound by the agreement they’ve ✨enthusiastically✨ entered into. So, let’s make sure this contract is as rock-solid as can be.

#2: Scope of work – what will be done by when

If you want to steer clear of misunderstandings or disputes, it’s crucial to make the scope of work crystal clear in your video production contract.

Start by including a comprehensive description of services and projects at hand. Include all the juicy details about the subject matter, the type of video that will be brought to life, and any requirements that have been agreed upon. Leave no room for ambiguity here!

Next, outline the tasks that must be completed and set some rock-solid deadlines. This ensures both parties are fully aware of the milestones they need to meet. 

For instance, let’s say you’re producing a promotional video for a company. In the contract, you could specify the following tasks:

  • Research the company and understand the target audience.
  • Develop an epic concept that will captivate viewers.
  • Weave your magic and create a stellar script.
  • Dive into pre-production activities like scouting the perfect locations and casting the ideal talent.
  • Lights, camera, action! Shoot the video and capture those awe-inspiring moments.
  • Work your editing magic in post-production, shaping the footage into a masterpiece.
  • Finally, deliver the final product that will leave everyone in awe.

#3: Requirements and responsibilities for both parties

When entering into a video production contract, it’s vital to outline the requirements and responsibilities of both parties upfront. This ensures smooth sailing throughout the project.

For the client, some important points should be included:

  • A clear description of the video project, including its purpose, target audience, and specific requirements.
  • The budget for the project.
  • The timeline for the project, including any deadlines that must be met.
  • The rights that the client will have to the finished product.

And here’s what’s important from the videographer’s point of view:

  • A clear description of their role in the project, including any deliverables they’re responsible for producing.
  • The timeline for their work on the project.
  • Fees or other compensation they’ll receive for their work.
  • The rights they’ll have to the finished product.

#4: Project milestones – dates and deadlines

In this section of the contract, break down the larger tasks into bite-sized milestones, each with its specific due date. Why? Well, this approach ensures that both parties have a clear understanding of the deadlines and expectations for every step along the way. 

Here are some key elements you may want to include under this heading:

  • A list of specific dates or deadlines must be met during the project.
  • An outline of what needs to be accomplished at each milestone.
  • How many changes or delays to the schedule will be handled?

Including this valuable info in your contract creates a solid foundation for success. Everyone involved will be on the same page, knowing the game plan, deadlines, and how to navigate any bumps in the road. It’s all about ensuring a harmonious and smooth project journey.

#5: Deliverables

Having a well-defined contract that outlines the deliverables is crucial. It ensures that both parties have a crystal-clear understanding of what is expected. 

So, create a video contract that leaves no room for ambiguity! 

Here are some things to consider:

  • The final video format(s): Will it be delivered as a digital file or on physical media (DVD/Blu-ray)?
  • The delivery method: How will the final video be delivered to the client? Will it be sent electronically or mailed/shipped?
  • Any additional formats: Will the production company provide additional video versions (e.g., an edit for social media)?
  • The turnaround time: How long will it take for the final video to be delivered?
  • Outsourcing: Will there be other subcontractors? If so, what part of the final product are they responsible for?

#6: Payment terms

Yet another important section! When it comes to payment terms, there are a few paths you can take. Which one you choose depends on various factors, such as your financial needs and the scale of the project. These are the most common options:

  • You can request to be paid for the entire project upfront, or you may choose to accept stage payments throughout production. 
  • If larger budgets are involved, you could offer a reduced rate in exchange for being paid upfront.

Whichever payment option you choose, include clear language in your contract so there’s no ambiguity about the payment schedule and other payment obligations.

#7: Ownership of the materials 

As the proud producer of a video, you inherently hold the copyright to the finished product. It’s your creative baby, after all! 

However, the story doesn’t end there.

You may be asked to sign over some or all ownership rights to the client, enabling them to use the video as they wish. 

They may wish to make further revisions, conduct video editing, or use it in future marketing campaigns or music videos. 

To ensure a smooth sailing journey, it’s crucial to clearly define any terms or conditions that may apply in the contract. This includes addressing confidentiality agreements or rights to use the finished video product. This way, both parties are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Pro tip: Once again, prior written consent is your ally. Get agreement on any specific terms or conditions that may impact the copyright ownership or usage of the final product. This simple step helps prevent potential problems or disputes down the line. 

#8: Cancellation and termination clauses 

Cancellation and termination clauses are vital in protecting both parties involved in a project. They serve as a safety net, providing a clear roadmap in case the need arises to cancel or terminate the project for any reason. 

First and foremost, these clauses should outline what happens if either party needs to cancel or terminate the project. This ensures a smooth process and minimizes any potential fallout.

Next up, the elephant in the room: outstanding payments. It’s important to specify how any pending payments will be handled in case of cancellation or termination. Clarity in this area ensures a fair resolution and avoids unnecessary disputes.

Last but not least, define ownership. Who owns the rights to any work that has been completed? It’s crucial to define the fate of the completed work in case of project cancellation or termination. This ensures that both parties know their rights and responsibilities regarding the completed materials.


Indeed, there may still be videographers and filmmakers who haven’t fully embraced the power of contracts.

But the truth is that getting even the smallest project from idea to screen requires a surprising amount of resources, and it’s for this reason that very few video production projects are done without a written contract. 

From the initial idea to editing to the final screening, there are hundreds of moving parts to take into account – all while battling tight production schedules, unpredictable weather conditions, and a host of other stressors.

The right contract will help you stay organized and make sure all the details and trade secrets that contribute to the final product are not overlooked.

GIF Source: Giphy

Well, now you know what a video production contract is and why you need one – but before you draft one yourself, remember that you should always get a professional opinion from an attorney.

Especially when hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars worth of jobs or intellectual property are at stake.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of a video production contract?

There are many benefits of having a video production contract before starting work on a project. 

To list just a few, a contract helps ensure that both parties are clear on the scope of work, timeline, and budget. It also protects intellectual property rights and ensures that filmmakers and editors are paid for their work.

What is the difference between a film production contract and a video production contract?

Film production contracts are typically used for feature-length films or movies. These contracts are more complex than video production contracts, as they often involve a larger team of people and a greater financial investment. 

Film productions also take longer to complete than video productions, so the contract must account for this.

Video production contracts, on the other hand, are typically used for shorter videos or projects. They also tend to be completed in a shorter timeframe than film productions, so the contract must reflect this.

Who owns the copyright to a video?

There are many different types of video production contracts, but generally, the person or organization who commissions the video owns its copyright. 

This means they have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and publicly perform the video. The copyright owner can also permit other people to use the video.

If you’re planning to produce a video for someone else, getting a contract specifying who will own the copyright is important. Otherwise, there could be legal disputes down the road.