How Not To Get Screwed Over as a Freelancer

Zacharias Legal Document Collection - 1743 Power of Attorney

During my travels as a freelance creative (I do photography, graphic design and video work) there have been a few occasions where things have not worked out as I had hoped. Recently I learned some lessons and got lots of different perspectives on how to keep myself safe in client relationships.

Here are the tips I collected:

  1. Create a contract. This contract should have clear terms and conditions such as payment information, cost, delivery method, communication guidelines, copyright information and usage. This site, dontgetscrewedover.com has some great tips and links to http://www.docracy.com/ which provides free, open source legal documents for use.
  2. Someone recommended getting referrals to me before working with a new client. Most of my clients have been friends or friends of friends and with these people I have had few conflicts.
  3. Get 50% payment up front (deposit) and have the client pay the balance upon delivery of the finished product. This is especially important for substantial jobs.
  4. Watermark all drafts and content sent before payment is delivered.
  5. Include a creative brief (either in written or oral format) to explain why you made certain choices to the client. This can be helpful in ensuring clear communication.
  6. If someone does not pay you a substantial amount of money and they are a homeowner, it is possible to put a “lean” on their house, and they will need to pay you before they can sell their property.
  7. Get a new job! Freelance work is not for everyone and running your own business can be hard. A different job might be the best thing your your lifestyle and preferences.
  8. Small Claims Court (at least in BC) can help you with amounts over $1000 but will probably cost you more than it’s worth for smaller amounts.

Stay Safe! Thanks to Allison, Jeremy, Sam, Julian, Cedric, Amanda, Jacquie, Jay, Dari, and everyone else who contributed to this list and gave me their wisdom!

Let’s Talk KONY 2012

If you haven’t seen it yet please watch the KONY 2012 video. You don’t have to agree with it, or support Invisible Children, but I think everyone should watch it to at least be able to contribute to the conversation.

Some people have responded to the KONY 2012 video (and there are many more but these are the ones that stood out to me):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wLCagapv38g http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J2P4Diu-TM&feature=related

Invisible Children has responded to their critics in writing and in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQABpjCalJk

And to the response to their KONY 2012 Video:

First I would like to write about Joseph Kony.

Now I think it is one thing to break a law and be punished for it. I think that all laws are debatable. In some countries some laws take away human rights (often specifically relating to freedom in relation to gender and sexuality) so I don’t think the law should be the final word in any situation… however, according to the video, Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court. According to their website:

The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The ICC is an independent international organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/About+the+Court/

Their website also has an update on what it calls the “Situation in Uganda”:

The case The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen is currently being heard before Pre-Trial Chamber II. In this case, five warrants of arrest have been issued against [the] five top members of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). Following the confirmation of the death of Mr Lukwiya, the proceedings against him have been terminated. The four remaining suspects are still at large.

http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/Situations+and+Cases/

I think it makes sense that if many countries and their international court agree that someone should go to trial, then it is worth following up on. One thing I have heard some critics of the KONY 2012 video say is that Joseph Kony is evil and should be punished. I disagree. I do not think anyone is evil. I think all beings deserve love and respect and compassion – for if I were to deny these basic things to Joseph Kony, I would only be perpetuating the terrible allegations that have been committed in his name. I am not saying that I agree with his actions, or that I think the acts committed by the LRA should be condoned – however I think it is possible to still love someone, and know that they may have made a mistake or have done wrong.

Secondly I would like to write about the KONY 2012 video itself and some of the allegations and criticisms of it.

I disagree that the video proposes a simple solution, I think that the video presents one step in reaching a goal. Much like other activist campaigns that target small milestones on the road to an end goal (in this case: INVISIBLE CHILDREN USES FILM, CREATIVITY AND SOCIAL ACTION TO END THE USE OF CHILD SOLDIERS IN JOSEPH KONY’S REBEL WAR AND RESTORE LRA-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN CENTRAL AFRICA TO PEACE AND PROSPERITY). I love that IC has a very clear and specific goals and I really like the way they are so good at empowering people by giving them a common goal and realistic ways to contribute that everyone can be part of. It’s an interesting experiment on social change. As a North American Citizen, apart from sending US or Canadian military (which are not purely conflict based – I used to be very opposed to anything related to the military but I have learned that they also are a valuable civil service – helping when there are floods or hurricanes etc.. in Canada anyway), I can’t think of any other actions me and my government could take to end this conflict. I don’t think that in itself, tweeting a message, sharing a video or sending an e-mail can end a major world conflict, however I think it is important to make supporters a part of a movement. These small acts of sharing information can contribute to major shifts in priorities and thinking for individuals. I know my life changed the first time I saw a video from Invisible Children (which I found via Pete Wentz btw several years ago). Some people have said the video is creating more war and conflict. I don’t know how to end a war. I don’t know the right answer here. I do know that whatever action has been taken in the past 25 years has not been effective, because there is still a war… so I think a new approach may be necessary. Maybe instead of trying to end war, we should be trying to create peace. Even in this case though, I think the two are very inter-related. I think it will be much easier to create peace when the LRA is disarmed and no longer causing children to do terrible things.

I read many articles calling supporters of KONY 2012 young and idealistic. So? Join the party.

So do i support KONY 2012? I don’t have a problem with spreading information and creating conversations about Joseph Kony. I think the more people that think about the well being of others and the world we are creating the better. Love it, hate it, as long as you are thinking and engaged I think that is extremely valuable. Maybe you think Invisible Children is using the wrong tactics targeting policy makers and celebrities. Maybe you or someone you share the video with will have a better idea of how to create peace. I think that is the power of video, it can inspire other ideas and actions.

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people being critical of the video or of Invisible Children. In fact I love that. I think critical thought, questioning, sharing ideas, and making informed choices. I think if everyone was more critical Kony probably wouldn’t have had enough followers to start and continue to build a child soldier army in the first place. And being critical doesn’t always mean supporting the social justice or “left-wing” side of things. I think being critical is about looking at both sides of an issue and deciding what is right for one’s self. Perhaps education is the way to support critical thinking – perhaps we should support building school in developing countries a la the world’s largest network of children helping children or other groups… but when I reflect on my own life I am not sure that the current school system in most countries supports this. Sitting and learning from a book or a teacher isn’t engaging in critical thought in my opinion. Maybe I should be trying to create the next generation of critical independent researchers…. I really don’t know (nor do I think there is) a “right answer” here.

I do know that my involvement with invisible children (like this, this, this and this) gave me something to belong to. I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself, and I was. I have connected with other people as a result of past work with IC, and on several dark evenings I was not so alone in the world. So I am going to keep creating conversations about Kony. Maybe it will inspire someone to come up with a way to create peace, who knows. Everything is connected.

See you on April 20th.

UPDATE:

I have started this post several times and the situation keeps changing almost more quickly than I can keep up with. You may have heard that there are some allegations again Invisible Children founder, Jason Russell. IC released this responce video:

This message was released on behalf on Jason’s Family:

“Thank you to everyone concerned with Jason and his health. Jason has dedicated his adult life to this cause, leading up to KONY 2012. We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it. While that attention was great for raising awareness about Joseph Kony, it also brought a lot of attention to Jason—and, because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard.

Let us say up front- that Jason has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn’t caused by either of those things. But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion. On our end- the focus remains only on his health, and protecting our family. We’ll take care of Jason, you take care of the work.

The message of the film remains the same: stop at nothing.”

-Jason’s wife on behalf of the Russell Family

I think Jason is human, and I wish him and his family all the best.

SIAT Showcase tomorrow! Come vote for me 12 to 5 at SFU Surrey : D

What are you up to tomorrow?

Come see my work and vote for it at the SIAT Spring Showcase!

Location: SFU Surrey – it’s by Central City Mall (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada)

Date & Time: Saturday, January 28th, 2012, 12:00-5:00pm

Facebook Event

I have several projects being featured…

( And vote for me! ;D )

Pay it Forward as a Christian Allegory and A Poem about Loss

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! 

Last night I re-watched Pay it Forward. This movie gets me every time. So beautiful and tragic * sigh *

I had never viewed it as a Christian Allegory before but that was definitely the reading I got this time. I think the kid represented Jesus, the people he helped were his disciples and well… you know how it ends. I think the Mom might have been some sort of Mary Magdalene figure.

Then I got to thinking, what if all of life is a Christian Allegory. I mean Jesus is Love right? And since everyone is a “divine creation” we are all Love. And if all of life is here to teach us about love and compassion then each death is for our sins. So we are all Jesus, in a way. Possibly? (Note: I am not Christian and I am not trying to be sacrilegious by writing this… I just like thinking about how love shows up in the world. No offence intended). Anywho I was really upset last night. I started pondering some recent events that have transpired in my life. The unfairness of loss. I think taking life is the worst thing one can do (weather it be the life of another or your own). I wanna watch some more Leo Buscaglia and go hug everyone. Love more. Yes…. and now a poem
Loss

 A POEM ABOUT LOSS

the inescapable feeling of all the air suddenly disappearing from my lungs,

and the unsatisfyable need to be anywhere but here.

and the sinking knowing that in this moment everything is not alright.

and the uncomfortable notion of observing the bloodshot and tear stained eyes of my weeping self. and the search for beauty in that moment but the finding of only emptiness. vast, cold emptiness.

and despite all of the happiness and joy I might have had today I want nothing more than I cry myself to sleep.

and grab, squeeze, reach any part of you or anyone who has ever known you, or would want to, or would pretend to.

bolting from the room as if to vomit up my pain and shock.

and thinking deep down that everything will be fine, and there is a lesson to be learned, and this challenge will make me stronger… but not caring because I cannot breathe.

and sinking down, away, into the bathroom stall.

but not caring because I cannot breathe.

and I think that it’s unfair. But a life taken doesn’t care.

and I think that it’s not right. But that won’t bring you back tonight.

And I am at a loss.

of life.

Jenni Meets Jesse: An Interview (and the best birthday ever)

This September I had a really amazing birthday. It was more of a weekend than a day really. On Friday I helped with the Frosh (kinda like University Orientation, fun games for first years to meet people etc) for my program at school and then went to Gorilla Food with my veggie friend Kyla. Then we got scalper tickets to the Ke$ha concert and had a glittery good time (my highlight was the giant inflatable zebra that LMFAO passed around… and the people behind me commenting on how “sleezy” the “get sleezy” tour was haha). On Saturday (my actual birthday) I helped with Frosh again and then got to see some awesome girls I haven’t seen much since High School. Sunday was a day of rest. I hung out downtown and then went for dinner with my Mom at my favorite raw vegan restaurant, Organic Lives.  Then…

On September 12th I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend and fellow Super Forester Jesse Carmichael before his concert in Abbotsford, BC, Canada.

BIGGEST DISCO BALL I'VE EVER SEEN

It's huge!

I was first in contact with Jesse when I stayed at Zero One in Hawaii. Jesse is a founding member of Maroon 5, and a gift to the planet.

Jesse Being a Rock Star

It was actually so funny because just as I was finishing dinner with my Mom, Jesse and his Yoga Teacher showed up at the restaurant. It turns out he had e-mailed me inviting me to meet them but I had been out all day and didn’t get the message (maybe it’s time to get an Phone? haha). Magic!

Jesse is really awesome and knew about so many awesome things. After the interview we went for a walk in the parking lot and sat by some trees where he told me about a bunch of awesome things. For example, I learned about this awesome TED Talk on the power of Mushrooms. Fungi is amazing!

I also was inspired to participate in the 9/11 Intention Experiment (people from all around the world focused their intentions on bringing peace to a very specific region of the Middle East and they are going to track the results).

 

Special Thanks to Trini Nguyen-Don and Diana Luong for filming/driving/being awesome and SuperForest.org for making this come together!

So silly! This is the only photo I have of us together... it's pretty awesome : P

AMAZING! SO grateful! What an awesome experience and what amazing people I am blessed to know.

PS: Recently this totally come full circle when my friend Jeka played “This Love” and was able to raise a bunch of money for some leadership opportunities she wants to take advantage of.

Love!

Shake It Media + Wintercoast PRESENTS

Happy Holidays from Shake it Media and Wintercoast : )

I’ve been working on this all week (ok i’ve taken lotsa breaks) but it’s done just in time to wish you a very Happy Christmas!

PS: I’ve been enjoying saying “Happy Christmas” to people because it makes me feel British (like Harry Potter) and it reminds me that WAR IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT : )

Hypnosis – My Cognitive Science Project

THIS IS WHAT I DO AT SCHOOL…

I took a cognitive science class this semester as an elective. It was taught by a professor from my major program (Interactive Arts + Technology) so instead of writing a final paper or exam I got to work on this. It was a really cool class that really opened my mind up. If you are curious…

cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes

– wikipedia

The course I took was called COGS 310: Consciousness. I wrote a bit about some of my insights and musings during the semester here and here.

Our project focuses on hypnosis, which is a form of brainwashing that shares some similar techniques to mind control and meditation. Our experimental video montage draws inspiration from the techniques of self-imposed hypnotism where the viewers perform hypnosis on themselves rather than having a manipulator to conduct the process. This

Ok, so I might have ripped of this amazing video a little bit…

But great artists steal, right? Though the visual style is similar we crafted our script on specific principals of hypnosis and we made all of the materials and the soundtrack from scratch.

l’histoire de la vie – an interactive multi-linear narrative

This is what I do at school…

This project is intended to take inspiration from the concept of a “semordnilaps”. A “semordnilaps” is a word (or pattern of any sort of thing) which creates
something new in reverse (the word itself is a reversal of the word palindromes). The project uses the visual film medium and the power of storytelling to create a
piece which can be viewed entirely in either directions of playback, creating two different experiences for the user, the giving the user control and agency over their
experience. The story could also be described as a “mise en abîme” because it is a never-ending narrative loop. The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning.
In this way, the narrative structure symbolically represents the central theme of the piece: the circle of life (hence the title, l’histoire de la vie).

FORWARDS

BACKWARDS

an IAT 313 final project
featuring Manon Pouget