Having worked for years in film and video production, many of which as a freelance turnkey video editor, there have sadly been several times where I’ve been left hanging by clients. The excuses vary from lack of available resources, the “you’ll get paid once I get paid” line, to straight ghosting and lack of returned emails and calls.

In a sad way, if I were to talk to someone just starting off in the industry, I’d have to say it’s just part of the territory. Sure, there are plenty of steps you can - and SHOULD - take to make sure that you aren’t working on just a promise and a handshake, but it still happens more often than many of us would care to admit.

Recently, a ghost client horror story went viral in a rather appropriately funny internet way. Video production company Ridge Production agreed to shoot a music video for rapper Sheck Wes for which they were not compensated up front. Once the video was done, they were informed through indirect channels that Wes did not like the music video and their subsequent invoice requests were disregarded and ignored.

In an interview with Highsnobriety, Ridge Production’s founder Pat Ridge outlines the series of events which left the production company with a completed video but no payment and no open line of communication on how to get paid.

So, he did what he thought was best and uploaded the video online. He was surprised when he was quickly hit with a cease-and-desist letter from Wes’ record label Universal’s lawyers to take the video down. Which Ridge complied with due to the music being used in the video being copyrighted.

However, whether with a keen eye for internet karma or just on good comedic instincts, he uploaded a second version of the video in which Ridge and his friends cut their own audio track dissing Wes and the whole situation.

Sheck Wes Revenge Music Video

The “Sheck Wes Didn't Like Our Music Video, So We Made This” has gone on to garner over a million views on Youtube and has blown up on Reddit and other online filmmaking communities.

As someone sympathetic to Ridge’s blight, it’s nice to see the guys make something fun out of the whole mess of a situation, but it’s also concerning for a couple of reasons.

1) This Story Isn’t Over

The biggest is that this clearly isn’t the end of the story. Sheck Wes and his reps are obviously still not happy about this video and his brand is undoubtedly taking a PR hit. If the whole situation is truly mean snide at Ridge and his production company for whatever reason, he would probably be best served to man up and apologies and try to set things right.

However, there very well may be more to the story that hasn’t come out yet. There may have been miscommunication or poor project management, but if Wes and his reps feel that they were acting in good faith (regardless of communication or timeline) they may come back at Ridge hard.

2) Ridge Productions Still Needs to Find New Clients

Which leads to the future for Ridge and his production company. They will most certainly get a boost as the video continues its viral ride. Hopefully they’ll get some great, more honest, opportunities in the foreseeable future by brands and clients who recognize their video making talents and clear viral awareness.

That being said, once their 15 minutes of online fame are up, they’ll need to still work day-to-day as a video production company and find new clients for years to come. Having a stigma of uploading revenge videos when payments aren’t met might become a bit of a red flag for clients when comparing them with their competition.

3) The Importance of Contracts and Money Upfront

The biggest takeaway from this whole viral mess though is the underlying importance of being upfront with clients on every project and getting contracts written and signed before any work is even considered.

From the recount in Highsnobiety it sounds like the whole process was conceived and run with in a matter of hours. Clearly not leaving a lot of time for negotiations run by Universal or writing up a formal agreement.

“He shows up at my house six or seven hours later with seven guys in army fatigues and paintball guns, and they start spray painting the paintball guns and shooting off pellets in my backyard. I let them in my house and shit…”

Ridge states that Wes agreed to pay them $4,000 for the video, which is certainly a bargain for a mainstream music video. However, regardless of quick turn around or friendly low rates to help boost your own brand, having some sort of agreement in writing and asking for something (if not the standard half) up front seems to be a big part of how both parties found themselves in this mess.

Curious though, what are your thoughts on this Sheck Wes revenge upload video? Let us know in the comments below...