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What are the essentials of a video production contract?

There’s more to offering freelance video production services than having an eye for a shot or a passion for storytelling. Sometimes, you have to swap that director’s hat for your business management equivalent — because between scripting, storyboarding, filming, and editing, you’ll be working closely with your client to deliver their vision. 

That’s why you need a solid video production contract template. By making sure that both parties are on the same page when it comes to the goals, objectives, and expectations of a shoot, you can guide a successful working relationship from day one.

So, to keep everyone happy and filming on track, here’s what you need to include in your next video production agreement:

1.The Fundamentals

Before you get into the specifics, you first need to clarify who the contract is between and the nature of the relationship. A professional and legally-binding video production contract will also give your client confidence that they’re dealing with an industry expert.

2. Scope of Work

Next, you need to outline the scope of the film in as much detail as possible. If you’ve discussed and agreed upon something as part of the project (either verbally or via email), make sure it’s in the contract.

And don’t be vague. Use numbers and dates when talking about timeframes and deadlines. For example, if you’re writing the script in addition to filming, clearly mention how many revisions you’ll do — otherwise, the scope could be open to interpretation and lead to conflict.

3.Requirements & Responsibilities

The basis for every good contract, you must list the resources and information you require to deliver your video production project. You should also clearly name who’s responsible for what, and when you need it.

For instance, if you’re shooting an ad for a local company, you might need supervised access to their property outside of business hours or a high-res copy of their logo for an overlay.

4.Project Milestones

Next, you’ll want to outline the key milestones, dates, and deadlines associated with the video project. Be clear around when something is due and what might affect this.

If your client is late in sending you that logo or if they fail to grant you access for a specific shot by a certain time, this could alter your timelines and impact your ability to hit your deadline.

And if you fail to highlight this in your contract, you could be held to that original deadline without any room for maneuver.    

5. Payment Terms & Schedule:

The best freelance videographers won’t lift a finger without having a contract in place. Why? Because before you film a single reel of footage, you need to agree on how much, how, and when you’ll be paid.

The amount you quote and the method of payment you accept is entirely up to you, but you may wish to structure the payment schedule differently depending on the scope and length of the project.

For example, if you’re working on every aspect of a film, from scripting through to editing, it makes sense to ask for a deposit upfront, with further payments contingent on the delivery of certain milestones. This will safeguard your cash flow and your business. 


Finally, as an extension of that last point, your contract should state that anything you send to the client to review during the project will contain your watermark. You should also highlight that they won’t receive a watermark-less version until you’ve received payment in full. This will stop them from running off with the finished film without paying you what you’re owed. 

How can I create a video production contract with Bonsai?

Writing a solid video production contract template takes time, effort, and know-how. And because each film you make will be different from the last in terms of scope and budget, the ability to edit your contract with project-specific detail is vital.  

Now, you could download any old video production contract PDF from the web, but they’re often difficult to customize and format — especially when you’re working to a deadline. 

So, what’s the alternative? Easy, it’s Bonsai

Vetted by thousands of freelancers and experienced contract lawyers, Bonsai covers everything we’ve mentioned above, and so much more. Simply select our specialist videography contract template, add your personal and project details, and sign & send with just a few clicks. 

Here’s how to make a Bonsai contract in 5 simple steps:

Step One - Choose Your Template
  • Select our videography contract template or start with a blank template. Add your client name, project name, preferred currency, and then click “CREATE CONTRACT”.

Step Two - Add Your Basic Info 
  • Next, fill in your basic information. This includes your location (country and state/province), your legal entity (if you operate via an LLC), and your client’s legal name (company or person). Then click “CONTINUE”.

Step Three - Add Your Scope of Work
  • Describe the scope of work in as much detail as possible. You can also attach a separate statement of work file here if you wish. Click “CONTINUE”.

Step Four - Add Your Payment Info 
  • Determine how and how much your client will pay you for your videography services here. You can choose from a flat fee, milestone payments, or hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly rates.

    You can also outline payment terms (net 15 days for invoices, for example), late payment fees, and contract start and end dates here. Click “CONTINUE” and then “CREATE CONTRACT”.

Step Five - Review & Sign Your Final Contract
  • You’re ready to review your fully fleshed-out and vetted freelance video production contract. If you want to make any edits to the template, you can do so at this stage.

And if you’re happy with the finished contract, you can click “SIGN CONTRACT” to digitally sign it with a legally-binding e-signature, before sending it to your client to do likewise.

Now you can return to your personalized Freelance Dashboard to track when the contract has been delivered, opened, and signed. 

Get to work — and get paid — faster with Bonsai: Make a video production contract 

Use this template

The simplest way to create a legally sound contract. Check out an example below

Video Production Contract Template

This Contract is between Sample Client (the "Client") and John Doe (the "Videographer").

The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Videographer to do the following: The videographer will produce videos for the Client.

1.2 Schedule. The Videographer will begin work on May 01, 2020 and the work is ongoing. This Contract can be ended by either Client or Videographer at any time, pursuant to the terms of Section 4, Term and Termination.

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Videographer a rate of $134.00 (USD) per hour.

1.4 Expenses. The Client will reimburse the Videographer's expenses. Expenses do not need to be pre-approved by the Client.

1.5 Invoices. The Videographer will invoice the Client weekly. The Client agrees to pay the amount owed within 15 days of receiving the invoice. Payment after that date will incur a late fee of 0.5% per month on the outstanding amount.


2.1 Client Owns All Work Product. As part of this job, the Videographer is creating “work product” for the Client. To avoid confusion, work product is the finished product, as well as drafts, notes, materials, mockups, hardware, designs, inventions, patents, code, and anything else that the Videographer works on—that is, conceives, creates, designs, develops, invents, works on, or reduces to practice—as part of this project, whether before the date of this Contract or after. The Videographer hereby gives the Client this work product once the Client pays for it in full. This means the Videographer is giving the Client all of its rights, titles, and interests in and to the work product (including intellectual property rights), and the Client will be the sole owner of it. The Client can use the work product however it wants or it can decide not to use the work product at all. The Client, for example, can modify, destroy, or sell it, as it sees fit.

2.2 Videographer’s Use Of Work Product. Once the Videographer gives the work product to the Client, the Videographer does not have any rights to it, except those that the Client explicitly gives the Videographer here. The Client gives the Videographer permission to use the work product as part of the Videographer's portfolio and websites, in galleries, and in other media, so long as it is to showcase the Videographer's work and not for any other purpose. The Videographer is not allowed to sell or otherwise use the work product to make money or for any other commercial use. The Client is not allowed to take back this license, even after the Contract ends.

2.3 Videographer’s Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Videographer’s help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Videographer agrees to help with that. For example, the Videographer may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can’t find the Videographer, the Videographer agrees that the Client can act on the Videographer’s behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can’t find the Videographer after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Videographer hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Videographer’s agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Videographer and on the Videographer’s behalf to execute, verify, and file the required documents and to take any other legal action to accomplish the purposes of paragraph 2.1 (Client Owns All Work Product).

2.4 Videographer’s IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Videographer might use intellectual property that the Videographer owns or has licensed from a third party, but that does not qualify as “work product.” This is called “background IP.” Possible examples of background IP are pre-existing code, type fonts, properly-licensed stock photos, and web application tools. The Videographer is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Videographer is giving the Client a right to use and license (with the right to sublicense) the background IP to develop, market, sell, and support the Client’s products and services. The Client may use this background IP worldwide and free of charge, but it cannot transfer its rights to the background IP (except as allowed in Section 9.1 (Assignment)). The Client cannot sell or license the background IP separately from its products or services. The Videographer cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

2.5 Videographer’s Right To Use Client IP. The Videographer may need to use the Client’s intellectual property to do its job. For example, if the Client is hiring the Videographer to build a website, the Videographer may have to use the Client’s logo. The Client agrees to let the Videographer use the Client’s intellectual property and other intellectual property that the Client controls to the extent reasonably necessary to do the Videographer’s job. Beyond that, the Client is not giving the Videographer any intellectual property rights, unless specifically stated otherwise in this Contract.


3.1 Overview. This section contains important promises between the parties.

3.2 Authority To Sign. Each party promises to the other party that it has the authority to enter into this Contract and to perform all of its obligations under this Contract.

3.3 Videographer Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Videographer promises that it owns the work product, that the Videographer is able to give the work product to the Client, and that no other party will claim that it owns the work product. If the Videographer uses employees or subcontractors, the Videographer also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Videographer giving the Videographer any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Videographer’s background IP and work product.

3.4 Videographer Will Comply With Laws. The Videographer promises that the manner it does this job, its work product, and any background IP it uses comply with applicable U.S. and foreign laws and regulations.

3.5 Work Product Does Not Infringe. The Videographer promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights, that the Videographer has the right to let the Client use the background IP, and that this Contract does not and will not violate any contract that the Videographer has entered into or will enter into with someone else.

3.6 Client Will Review Work. The Client promises to review the work product, to be reasonably available to the Videographer if the Videographer has questions regarding this project, and to provide timely feedback and decisions.

3.7 Client-Supplied Material Does Not Infringe. If the Client provides the Videographer with material to incorporate into the work product, the Client promises that this material does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.

4. TERM AND TERMINATION. This Contract is ongoing, until ended by the Client or the Videographer. Either party may end this Contract for any reason by sending an email or letter to the other party, informing the recipient that the sender is ending the Contract and that the Contract will end in 7 days. The Contract officially ends once that time has passed. The party that is ending the Contract must provide notice by taking the steps explained in Section 9.4. The Videographer must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Videographer for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Videographer for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses. The following sections don’t end even after the Contract ends: 2 (Ownership and Licenses); 3 (Representations); 6 (Confidential Information); 7 (Limitation of Liability); 8 (Indemnity); and 9 (General).

5. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. The Client is hiring the Videographer as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

- The Videographer will use its own equipment, tools, and material to do the work.- The Client will not control how the job is performed on a day-to-day basis. Rather, the Videographer is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.- The Client will not provide the Videographer with any training.- The Client and the Videographer do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.- The Videographer cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.- The Videographer is not entitled to the Client’s benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).- The Videographer is responsible for its own taxes.- The Client will not withhold social security and Medicare taxes or make payments for disability insurance, unemployment insurance, or workers compensation for the Videographer or any of the Videographer’s employees or subcontractors.


6.1 Overview. This Contract imposes special restrictions on how the Client and the Videographer must handle confidential information. These obligations are explained in this section.

6.2 The Client’s Confidential Information. While working for the Client, the Videographer may come across, or be given, Client information that is confidential. This is information like customer lists, business strategies, research & development notes, statistics about a website, and other information that is private. The Videographer promises to treat this information as if it is the Videographer’s own confidential information. The Videographer may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Videographer use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Videographer cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Videographer written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Videographer may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Videographer must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Videographer promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Videographer written permission first. The Videographer must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Videographer’s responsibilities only stop if the Videographer can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Videographer came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Videographer came across it, but not because of anything the Videographer did or didn’t do; (iii) the Videographer already knew the information when the Videographer came across it and the Videographer didn’t have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Videographer with the information without requiring that the Videographer keep it a secret; or (v) the Videographer created the information on its own, without using anything belonging to the Client.

6.3 Third-Party Confidential Information. It’s possible the Client and the Videographer each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Videographer each promise that it will not share with the other party confidential information that belongs to third parties, unless it is allowed to do so. If the Client or the Videographer is allowed to share confidential information with the other party and does so, the sharing party promises to tell the other party in writing of any special restrictions regarding that information.

7. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. Neither party is liable for breach-of-contract damages that the breaching party could not reasonably have foreseen when it entered this Contract.


8.1 Overview. This section transfers certain risks between the parties if a third party sues or goes after the Client or the Videographer or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Videographer did, then the Videographer may promise to come to the Client’s defense or to reimburse the Client for any losses.

8.2 Client Indemnity. In this Contract, the Videographer agrees to indemnify the Client (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against all liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of: (i) the work the Videographer has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Videographer of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Videographer of the promises it is making in Section 3 (Representations).

8.3 Videographer Indemnity. In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Videographer (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of a breach by the Client of its obligations under this Contract.


9.1 Assignment. This Contract applies only to the Client and the Videographer. The Videographer cannot assign its rights or delegate its obligations under this Contract to a third-party (other than by will or intestate), without first receiving the Client’s written permission. In contrast, the Client may assign its rights and delegate its obligations under this Contract without the Videographer’s permission. This is necessary in case, for example, another Client buys out the Client or if the Client decides to sell the work product that results from this Contract.

9.2 Arbitration. As the exclusive means of initiating adversarial proceedings to resolve any dispute arising under this Contract, a party may demand that the dispute be resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its commercial arbitration rules.

9.3 Modification; Waiver. To change anything in this Contract, the Client and the Videographer must agree to that change in writing and sign a document showing their contract. Neither party can waive its rights under this Contract or release the other party from its obligations under this Contract, unless the waiving party acknowledges it is doing so in writing and signs a document that says so.

9.4 Notices.

(a) Over the course of this Contract, one party may need to send a notice to the other party. For the notice to be valid, it must be in writing and delivered in one of the following ways: personal delivery, email, or certified or registered mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested). The notice must be delivered to the party’s address listed at the end of this Contract or to another address that the party has provided in writing as an appropriate address to receive notice.

(b) The timing of when a notice is received can be very important. To avoid confusion, a valid notice is considered received as follows: (i) if delivered personally, it is considered received immediately; (ii) if delivered by email, it is considered received upon acknowledgement of receipt; (iii) if delivered by registered or certified mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested), it is considered received upon receipt as indicated by the date on the signed receipt. If a party refuses to accept notice or if notice cannot be delivered because of a change in address for which no notice was given, then it is considered received when the notice is rejected or unable to be delivered. If the notice is received after 5:00pm on a business day at the location specified in the address for that party, or on a day that is not a business day, then the notice is considered received at 9:00am on the next business day.

9.5 Severability. This section deals with what happens if a portion of the Contract is found to be unenforceable. If that’s the case, the unenforceable portion will be changed to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable, unless that change is not permitted by law, in which case the portion will be disregarded. If any portion of the Contract is changed or disregarded because it is unenforceable, the rest of the Contract is still enforceable.

9.6 Signatures. The Client and the Videographer must sign this document using Bonsai’s e-signing system. These electronic signatures count as originals for all purposes.

9.7 Governing Law. The laws of the state of California govern the rights and obligations of the Client and the Videographer under this Contract, without regard to conflict of law principles of that state.

9.8 Entire Contract. This Contract represents the parties’ final and complete understanding of this job and the subject matter discussed in this Contract. This Contract supersedes all other contracts (both written and oral) between the parties.


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