I have a question.
My writing partner and I spoke with a DP about shooting, editing, and co-directing a small project. This DP toured the location and agreed to work with us for a price. No contact was signed.
In the weeks leading up to the shoot, we saw signs of irresponsibility, including him telling us he couldn't make our production meeting a week before the shoot because "something came up." We learned later it was so he could take a job.
My co-writer and I talked, and decided it was best to not move forward with him. We had to cancel the production date, alert our actors and additional crew, and put everything on pause.
My co-writer spoke with the DP, and told him that communication issues were coming up, and we weren't a match. The conversation seemed to go well, and he wished us well. However, today, he invoiced us for half of what we would have paid him to do the work, calling it a kill fee. He never said anything about this on the phone.
I don't feel we owe him half the fee, especially because a contract wasn't in place, and the production never started. We all invested time we can't get back. The fee included him editing, DPing, and using his equipment. We never hit this stage.
We want to handle this properly, and welcome any feedback. We don't want bad blood, but we're not sure we owe him what he's asking for, either.