Freelance Animation Jobs: Contract Dos and Don'ts

Freelance animation jobs can keep you extremely busy, particularly if you’re doing a full production. That can take your eye off business considerations, and that’s not a good situation to be in. Contracts in particular need to be examined closely, and so do the contractors.

Contract Issues and Freelance Animation Jobs

The basic freelance animation job contact is for provision of services and products. The criteria for a good contract are:

  • All contract terms spelled out clearly.
  • All obligations on you as a party to the contract are defined.
  • Method and amount of payment is stated.
  • Obligation for payment to you is stated.
  • Termination or “opt out” clauses are clear.

That’s a standard contract, and if the formats vary a bit, the content doesn’t, even in jobs where the work and services are quite complex. These are very simple, clearly worded contracts, and rarely need to go over two pages. You won’t be in any doubt whatsoever of your position.

The warning signs of a dubious contract are:

  • Lengthy, complex, documentation.
  • Unclear terms and methods of payment.
  • Obscure references to types of services, or open-ended statements like “…. and other production work as required," as there’s no way of knowing what a statement like this means and what you would be signing up to do.
  • Detailed clauses regarding “quality and standards”, which are ambiguous, and leave you vulnerable to non-payment or endless unproductive debates about these issues.

Look out for any excessive-looking materials in contracts, on principle. These contracts can be almost unworkable, and any contract clause can be an issue. Any contract of this type can be considered suspect, and you’re strongly advised to get professional guidance before signing anything.

Important:  Phrases like “payment on completion” or “payment on acceptance” are standard in some types of contract and are perfectly normal. If in any doubt at all, check with a legal adviser.  Also check out major freelance sites for a look at the baseline level of standard contracts to use as a comparison.

Do’s and Don’ts in Freelance Animation Job Contracts

Do’s

  • Do check all contracts thoroughly.
  • Do identify any unclear issues systematically, clause by clause.
  • Do check contractors online for any complaints or issues.
  • Do avoid any commitment where you’re unsure of your obligations.
  • Do make sure that you’re undertaking work where you can provide all elements of service shown in the contract.
  • Do ask the contractor for advice in writing about any unclear issues.

Don’ts

  • Don’t sign anything until you’re 100% sure of your contract obligations.
  • Don’t enter into any contract where terms and methods of payment are ambiguous or vague.
  • Don’t get dazzled by large amounts of money in contracts you don’t yet have. Talk is cheap, and until a contract delivers, it is just talk.
  • Don’t assume anything about a contractor. Check everything, particularly the contractor’s previous record of payment on freelance web sites.