Client vs. Collaborator

Welcome to the team that’s going to produce your video! What? You didn’t know you were on the team? Well, step right in and let us explain.

There are two ways to approach business transactions. You can be a client (or a service provider) or a collaborator. Of course this doesn’t apply to every situation. When you go to a fast food place, you order your food and they give it to you. If you want them to hold the pickles or hold the lettuce, you tell them and they do it. You don’t have to jump behind the counter and fix your own burger from scratch. In this case, you are a client. Customer, if you prefer.

In other situations, you are a collaborator. You don’t just hand a to-do list to someone and sit back waiting for a final product. You’re involved. You’re not just calling the shots, you’re getting feedback from the other party, assessing the validity of the data,  and adjusting the plan as needed. You make suggestions, they make suggestions, and you work together to reach an agreement on the final outcome.

In other words, you’re part of the team. A collaborator.

Creating a video is a collaborative effort, and your participation is vital!

Creating a video is a collaborative effort, and your participation is vital!

This is an ideal scenario for working with a video production company. Make no mistake, plenty of companies will jump up and scream “NOOOOO!” over this suggestion. It opens up the possibility for abuse from the person paying for the video. And it happens often. High-maintenance clients are the stuff from which video production horror stories arise, to be told around a campfire, over a round of drinks, or in a therapist’s office. One person thinks the opening scene is too busy (after they ignored the field producer who said their plan to have 20 people running around the showroom wasn’t a good idea). Another hates the music (after making the director and editor listen to 30 different samples of what they wanted, and approving the track that was selected, which was exactly like those 30 example songs). Then there’s the one who thinks he looks blotchy on camera. (Guess what? You ARE blotchy pal, and we tried to tell you a makeup artist was advisable, but you didn’t want to spend the extra money!)

But you’re not any of these people, right? You want to work with people, not against them. So, again, welcome to the team!

Of course, the reason you’re hiring a video production company is because you don’t know how to produce a video yourself. That’s fair. There are times when you need to trust the experts. But this doesn’t mean you have to turn everything over to them and hope it works out. There are many areas where your input is vital, and many opportunities during the entire process for you to give that input.

Let’s start at the beginning, with concept development and storyboarding. You expected to give your input here. This is when you tell the production company what you actually want. We’ve yet to meet anyone who’s walked in, thrown a pile of money at our feet, and said: “Guess what I want? No, really, guess! Bye now! I’ll be back in a month to pick up the finished piece!” You can also expect to give feedback at various points in the scriptwriting phase so that changes can be made. You must be absolutely comfortable with the script. We’ve yet to tell a client: “No, really, you actually must say ‘Good googly-moogly!’ at this point in the video. It doesn’t matter whether you’d actually say it in real life. We don’t care about that.”

Graphic design  is another area where you have to give your input. Not just on the way graphics look, but on the content. Let’s say you’re doing an explanatory video for customers who have bought your product. The preliminary graphic outlining the steps for assembling the product is very well designed, but you have hesitations. You think the information might be unclear, or even misleading. But really, they worked so long on the graphic…surely your customers can figure it out. This is just a basic guide, right?

Stop right there. There is no “I” in team, but there is an “I” in lawsuit. As in product liability, which customers may invoke when they’re injured because they couldn’t figure it out. It’s best for everyone if you speak up now. Graphic artists expect re-dos. Clarify what you need, and if you don’t get it after the first revision, clarify some more.

Also make sure you let the production company know what sort of material you’re expecting, and anything that can enhance the overall piece, such as b-roll shots that you think would be perfect. You know what you want better than anyone, and many times you also have good insight into what’s available because you’re familiar with the topic. If there’s a creepy little cemetery just half a mile away from the main shoot location that would add ambiance to your documentary, mention it. The same goes for details that the production crew might not notice in a particular setting.  This kind of collaboration makes everyone’s job easier during the shoot and the post-production phase.

That, by the way, is where you have to take a step back. During editing, unless you are very concerned that the final script wasn’t specific enough to ensure the video is put together correctly, you will most likely have to take a back seat. A back seat in another building. Editors typically work best when left to themselves. It’s not that they’re an antisocial lot, but putting together a video takes time and concentration. Having someone leap up from behind them screaming :”Wait! Not that shot!” is distracting and unnerving. Think how you feel when you’re concentrating on something, just about to get it right, and someone interrupts you. Aggravating, right? An aggravated editor is a liability.

You’ll have an opportunity to give feedback again when the first version of the video is ready, although in some cases you may be called in to look at specific portions ahead of time. If you’ve done your due diligence during the preceding phases and given honest feedback (and asked lots of questions when something wasn’t clear) then you should be relatively pleased with the results. Any changes you need to to recommend should be fairly straightforward. Ultimately, working as a collaborator rather than a passive client is to your benefit, because it not only ensures you get what you want, but ensures you get it in a timely manner. Hencar enjoys making every project a team effort, because that’s the best way to ensure everyone wins in the end.