One of the greatest challenges media production professionals face is managing client expectations. We do this by steering their “Hollywood” vision of a project into a more realistic approach that falls within their budget requirements and expectations. At the same time, we want to create a visually inspiring and dynamic piece right along with them. It’s truly a gift when we are given full creative control with a bottomless budget. Unfortunately, this is not the norm. Instead we are constantly challenging ourselves and our clients to create just as dynamic a piece with a limited budget, while still trying to reach for that “Hollywood” ideal.
Managing Client Expectations in A Nutshell
Upon first meeting with a client I always try and get a detailed description of what they are trying to accomplish and what they want their audience to see. It’s important to understand their “vision” of what they believe the final piece should be. I love to watch them get excited about the concept. The next step is to discover their budget restrictions. I always loathe asking this question, although it is a necessary evil. I never want to be the individual that says, “Unfortunately, based on your budget, we’ll need to scale down your idea a bit.” Watching their face fall is the moment I dread most. But, all is not lost! Using modern editing techniques and graphic software, I am given an extra toolbox that will allow my team and I to come as close as we can to the clients dream. Our client may lose the advanced 3D animation they crave, but we can replace it with stylized graphics composited onto footage at about half the cost. It’s just as effective and much more budget friendly.
Staying Within Budget
Throughout the production process, the client may need to be reminded of the new budget friendly version of the piece. I have found in my experience that they may like to compare the original grandiose idea to the newer model. With a little bit of hand holding and patience it is easy to explain that we have to do what is necessary to make sure the project remains effective, exciting and visually appealing, but still comes in on time and on budget. We need to remind ourselves that the client doesn’t always understand the media production process. It is our job to be there every step of the way to make sure they feel secure in our ability to produce a wonderful piece.
Our clients want to be a part of the production world; it’s an escape from reality for them. Most of them have never experienced what it is like to work on a set surrounded by cameras and equipment. For them it is fascinating and they want to be a part of it, every step of the way. I am constantly educating my clients about the production world. The benefit to this is that the next time we work together it will be an even smoother process, resulting in a visually inspiring piece that makes everyone involved feel proud to have been a part of it.