The final word: Who’s in charge of your script?

In the business world, the customer is always right. Except when the customer is wrong. Or maybe not entirely wrong, but perhaps sadly misguided and therefore more wrong than right. Yet you can never let the customers know they’re wrong, because that would also be wrong, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Or a good working relationship.

This is what we deal with every day in the video production business. We want to keep our clients happy, but when they present us with their script ideas sometimes we just…cringe. At least that’s what it looks like if we’ve kept ourselves in control. Otherwise it looks like we’re involuntarily flailing about, much as a fish out of water would do if it was being electrocuted while gasping for oxygen.

Ultimately, the answer to the question: “Who’s in charge of the script for my video?” is simple. You are. This should make everyone happy. You, the customer, are in the driver’s seat, so you call the shots and give the “yea” or “nay” to suggestions made by the production company. The company should be happy because theoretically, they are relieved of responsibility. In the real world though, that’s not the way it goes. The company does have a responsibility, both to their own reputation and to yours.

Who is at the wheel when it comes to your video script?

Who is at the wheel when it comes to your video script?

This is why we hate it when our first meeting of the day includes conversations like this: “Of course, Mr. Whitby,” we purr through clenched teeth. “It absolutely makes sense to have someone portraying Macbeth offering a plate of haggis to Queen Victoria in your commercial while an Ella Fitzgerald lookalike sings the Go-Gos’ We Got the Beat. The swans? Absolutely, it should be easy to find someone willing to dye them shocking pink so they stand out and make a nice contrast to the leprechauns.”

You’d think with visions like this that Mr. Whitby wants a commercial for a new brand of absinthe, but in fact it is for the new sports car his firm has designed. The car is never seen or even referenced in the ad, but that is of little importance. Mr. Whitby insists the ad will generate buzz, which will generate curiosity about what exactly is being sold, which will lead people to his company’s website for an answer. Mr. Whitby has been inspired and is now giving full vent to the creativity he stifled for decades as he climbed the corporate ladder.

He should have climbed further. Then he could have claimed oxygen deprivation when he was forced to take a long hard look at the abomination he wanted to turn into a video. It is up to us to surreptitiously help the client back through the rabbit hole for a gentle re-entry into this universe.

We get it. When those creative juices start flowing, it can be intoxicating. Writing all those ideas down is a way to bring them one step closer to manifesting in reality.

But down deep, you know there’s probably a good reason why Queen Victoria isn’t actually cavorting with pink swans and leprechauns in real life. There’s just something wrong about it, in the same way there’s just something wrong about aspic. It can be done, but does that mean it should be done? So before you take it a step too far and insist that your grand vision be turned into fact, here are some things to consider when working on a script with your production company.

My, it seemed much less… this… when it was just on paper….

First, a video production company isn’t here to be your nemesis. We’re here to ensure you get the best video possible, and sometimes that means  pushing back against your initial script ideas. We’ve been in the business a long time, (at Hencar we have more than six decades of industry experience combined) and we understand what it is to be creative, and what you need to do to ensure that creativity connects with the audience. So when we say: “Dial it back a notch” or “I’m not sure what you want to convey here”, we aren’t trying to be cruel or to stifle your creativity. We’re trying to ensure that you don’t appear foolish to your clients, your rivals, or your peers in your industry.

Secondly, many people don’t have a full grasp of what it takes to produce even a simple video. Even if the script looks doable on paper, the coordination for a marathon fantasy like the one described above would be akin to staging a Broadway play with two days of preparation and half an hour of rehearsals. There are just way too many moving parts, with additional nonmoving parts that don’t seem to serve even a decorative purpose. You’re looking at several cameras, audio operators, actors, sets, someone who knows what haggis is supposed to look like, makeup artists who can make some poor soul resemble Queen Victoria, costumes to put on her and Macbeth, and someone willing to try to get swans to put up with being dyed pink. Swans, by the way, are quite vicious when they get annoyed. They have even been reported to kill people.

Hey! You lookin’ at me?

Coordination and execution aside, the sheer cost for creating this would likely make Mr. Whitby wish he’d stayed at the drawing board, or better yet in the mail room, and exercised his creativity by writing short stories during his breaks, rather than letting it build up to unmanageable levels. This is another area where the production company can help you adjust your expectations. A line-by-line breakdown of expenses can help you reprioritize your vision, and your script.

Scripts must be written of course, and the big question is, who will be writing yours? This is ultimately up to you. A full-service company like Hencar will offer full scriptwriting services. You’ll have final approval over all of the scripts, but unless you want to pitch in, you don’t have to write a word if you don’t want to. But while we hope your creativity is more moderate than poor Mr. Whitby’s, we definitely don’t want to discourage you from trying your hand at it if you like. We can certainly help you with details like formatting, allowing you more time to focus on creating the content.

Our end goal at Hencar is to make you comfortable with the process and delighted with the outcome. We look forward to helping you create the script, and the video, of your dreams. Pink swans included.