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kennethcmerrill
06-06-2015, 10:01 PM
I'm currently on what you might call a corporate gig. I'm shooting a launch video and kickstarter video for a guy that is beginning manufacture on an electric vehicle prototype. The product is cool and ingenious. And The client was willing to pay my rate and everything. The ideal situation, you would think.
But I'm in a strange situation. It began several weeks ago when I prepared by sending a rough script outline for the videos to the client, and he largely ignored it. I wasn't too ruffled because it's really not a huge deal--silence means consent, as they say. I figured he was just busy, and I would do what I needed to do to make the video awesome.
Then gradually I start to recognize a pattern of me making plans, telling him what we'll need to do, and then he kind of ignores what I've said and tells me what he had in mind. I try to talk through my ideas with him and why I stand by them, and he blows them off a bit. At this point I'm a little annoyed, but I figure the client has the last word, and I'll just have to do what I can with what he has in mind.
So, today was the first day of production. Much to my chagrin, the day was spent with me telling a shot to the Movi operator, and then the client cuts in and basically says, "No, let's do this." I try to reassert what I wanted to do, but the client acts as if I haven't said anything at all. After just a few instances of this, the Movi operator pretty much stops listening to me as well and goes rogue. By the end, I'm standing around as shots are called and executed, wondering why the hell I'm there in the first place.
Of course there is some ego involved here, but I'm mostly in despair because I now have a ton of footage I don't particularly like and didn't really plan on, and I'm wondering where I went wrong. I wouldn't be bothered if I knew the client would have acted the same no matter who was shooting. But I'm afraid I am making critical errors in management and maybe I can expect similar experiences in the future. I need help.
I am an easy-going guy who likes to people-please, and I'm not a big fan of confrontation. I know this can be a big problem in management. BUT I also don't want to be neurotic: "I'm the director! I have a vision! That's what we're going to do!" How do you find the middle ground? Collaboration is important, but what do you do when the client pushes you out of all the decisions? Do you let it happen?
"The customer is always right." Are they? Definitely not, but if they insist on something, you should probably just give it to them, right? But what if it's everything?
Is it a matter of money? I'm young and at the lower end of the budget spectrum. I mean, I quoted something like $4000 for these videos. Is the client thinking I'm cheap, therefore I don't know what I'm doing?
How do you be decisive, authoritative, and commanding without being a jerk? Maybe being a jerk is essential to success as a filmmaker? (Michael Bay...)
Alright. That's all I've got. Any thoughts? Thanks ahead of time. Sorry for the long read!

DPStewart
06-06-2015, 11:02 PM
Step 1. - always DRAG out of them either what they DO want...or the longest list possible of what they DON'T want.

Step 2. - in your current situation switch to the "Let's shoot it both ways and choose in post" mantra. And I mean MANTRA. Insist on this. It is THE quickest easiest win-win methodology. I always use this as soon as ANYONE with any authority whatsoever starts interjecting.
If they don't want to allow "your version" of each shot as well - remind them that one of the main reasons they hired you was that they liked YOUR work - and that means YOUR judgement. So remind them that "you hired me for my judgement as much as anything, so let's just shoot it both ways and choose which works best in context when we're editing" Easy-peasy everyone wins....generally.

goodgoings
06-06-2015, 11:50 PM
Man, I hate these types of clients. One of the reasons I shot one wedding and swore never to do another.

PeopleCanFly
06-06-2015, 11:56 PM
It seems like there will always be those problem clients who either want to take over, or do things radically different than what was agreed upon, or keep requesting new things last minute, etc. etc. The life we live.

Howie Roll
06-07-2015, 03:16 AM
I don't know, it doesn't seem to me like you had any interest in your clients vision and just wanted to push forward with your own idea. Silence means consent? Seriously who says some stupid shit like that. Sound more like something a date rapist would say. I'd work on your communication skills moving forward, it's foolhardy to rush into production if everyone isn't on the same page.

Good Luck

Paulears
06-07-2015, 07:09 AM
You boobed by not making sure the client understood what he was commissioning you to do? What is your role? he discusses things with members of the production team and excludes you. Who is paying these people? I tend to agree that silence NEVER means consent, and that's a crazy assumption. There is no point in having an ego when you are not in control.

What exactly are you supposed to be doing? clients often wish to be hands on, and may reject your advice - but - their alternative must be workable, or you simply can't win, and then when it's time to pay, they will cite themselves as doing all the work, talking to the crew and using none of your input. If this is true, imagine standing in front of Judge Judy. SO what did you do? Er, nothing, he wouldn't let me! Get out of here, I have better things to do!

Frank Glencairn
06-07-2015, 09:33 AM
Clients from hell, I know this type too well.
Actually you can't win in this game, all you can do is some damage control.
After each day, have him sign a list with shots that he insisted of, and shots you wanted, but didn't get.
And tell him that this is just to prevent misunderstandings later in the process. That ether get's him thinking, or it saves your arse later.

vicharris
06-07-2015, 01:21 PM
"Silence means consent"

This is a huge red flag. Sorry but I was off the train after this statement. My GF is an activist for young girls and this logic is terrifying on many levels.

keithlango
06-08-2015, 11:47 PM
You could use a bit more work on gaining consensus with your clients and colleagues. That may mean you need to insist on an answer from someone. Insisting is a kind of low level conflict, but if you want to survive in the art business you'll need to get comfortable with it. There have been some other helpful suggestions for how to achieve that here.

Also, I'm a pretty generous sort, so to me your "silence means consent" stance strikes me as a clumsy and inelegant wording to express your aversion to having difficult conversations. But it could also signal that you are the sort who looks at people as canvasses upon which to paint your own will and desires, which is why it has triggered some pretty harsh reactions to your unfortunate phrasing. Honestly, I can see both ways of reading that into the situation. Words are thoughts. We've all said stupid things before and our words didn't communicate what we truly believed or intended. It happens to all of us and it's pretty embarrassing and humbling. I'm hoping that's the case here.

jtfarabee
06-09-2015, 08:58 AM
When it comes to production stuff, people pleasing tends to get in the way, but there is a way to make people happy by being confrontational in a good way. Yes, you obviously want your client to be happy, but it's worth asking them if they want your vision, or just someone who can execute theirs. I would suggest sitting down and asking them which objective they hired you to accomplish. If they say they want you to realize their vision, be humble about it. Apologize for trying to do it your way, and ask how you can help to make their vision reality. That would be a good point to let them know that you would like to get certain shots to help reinforce their vision, and ask if you have the freedom to do that. It's important to get their agreement on every step through this process. Then, as you move forward, make sure that every single step is signed off on by them. Plan out every shot in advance and get them to approve it before the shoot. Don't move forward with any scripts or story boards until everything is signed. It's a tough process to rebuild faith in each other after a rough intersection, but it's entirely possible to do so. Some great advice I heard once "We all buy into the myth that we have to choose between people liking us or being honest, but in reality people will like us more if we are open and honest with them." Remember, this doesn't give you the right to be a jerk, but this is a case where a well-executed confrontation can make all the difference in the world. Have courage, but be humble. And good luck!

Jared Caldwell
06-09-2015, 09:26 AM
I don't know, it doesn't seem to me like you had any interest in your clients vision and just wanted to push forward with your own idea. Silence means consent? Seriously who says some stupid shit like that. Sound more like something a date rapist would say. I'd work on your communication skills moving forward, it's foolhardy to rush into production if everyone isn't on the same page.

Good Luck



"Silence means consent"

This is a huge red flag. Sorry but I was off the train after this statement. My GF is an activist for young girls and this logic is terrifying on many levels.

Let's chill on the hyperbole. This has nothing to do with something like rape. This is in the context of communication with a client, not some general life philosophy. This is a camera forum. Let's not try to cut everyone down at the knee for asking a question around here.

I totally understand what the OP is saying in terms of not getting clear expectations up front. Clients have different personalities, and time marches on no matter how much or little input they give while you're prepping.

In the future, it's crucial that you set up checkpoints that are mandatory for the client so that you can all be on the same page. For now, I'd recommend discussing with your client between days. Instead of saying "me me me, I I I," look at this from a consultant perspective. The client is not an expert on production, but you are (that's why he's paying you). Make suggestions that shows you have the production's best interest in mind.

An example could be, "I understand that you want some particular shots, and I'm happy you're involved with the production, but we need to get X specific shots in this way so we have something to cut together."

You could also start showing dailies so that he can see his work, and show what shots you've missed that you need to capture.

Being passive is not the answer right now. With some consulting and fine people skills, you should be able to salvage the shoot to get a cut that isn't embarrassing, even if it's not your vision.

kgimedia
06-09-2015, 11:31 AM
Man, I hate these types of clients. One of the reasons I shot one wedding and swore never to do another.

That is interesting. I still do weddings because it is the only work I do that has none of this type of thing. Lol.

4saken
06-09-2015, 07:42 PM
I always tell clients that act up like this that they hired me to do a specific job which they don't know how to do. If they'd known they could have just done it them selves.
As an analogy, you wouldn't go to your bakery around the corner and tell them how many water & flour they should use for baking their bread. You can make a request for a certain type of bread, but you would still leave it up to the bakery to make sure it turns out good in the end.
Same thing applies when dealing with clients. They can make requests, but it should always be up to your judgement if those requests make sense in a creative way.