Client Involvment- or not? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 31st, 2007, 01:17 AM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Anchorage, AK
Posts: 315
Client Involvment- or not?

I've only been working in the video production industry nearly 2 years for a local TV station, but throughout that time, I've dealt with all sorts of clients. While each client is a little bit different, and most of them are great to work with, there are a select few that seem to be more of a headache than anything else.

One thing I'd like to learn more about is where to draw the line when it comes to client involvment and client satisfaction. There are some clients that demand to literally sit behind me in my office while I edit their spot- to make sure I'm doing it "right". There are others who even go so far as to pick out exactly what shots I should use. And then there are those where nothing is ever perfect. Case in point, I finished revising a project today that has been in a constant state of revision for 6 months. 2 people spent a total of 4 solid days shooting footage, and another 5 or 6 days were spent editing and/or revising. Basically, what would happen is that when the project was finished, we would send it off to the client for approval. Sometimes we would have to wait upwards of 2 to 4 weeks, only to have the whole thing come back with a list of changes.

Most changes were quite easy (move this graphic over to the other side... move this clip back 10 seconds, move this other one to take its place, etc...)

And other revisions just got to be frustrating (I don't think that last change looks good- so move it all back, except this time change the music- and instead of ABCD text, I want it to say DEFG while scrolling from top to bottom... I don't like any of these shots, have somebody fly down here to shoot more footage...)

This sequence of events happened at least 4 times. By the time everything was done, we had at least 3 completely different, yet viable versions of this project. Since we don't charge by the hour, I know we took a HUGE hit with labor hours and costs. I think this sort of thing is totally unacceptable, but I've been told that some clients need to be coddled and held by the hand so they're completely happy with everything. I understand the thinking, but where is the line in the sand?

I'm not a freelanceer (yet), so my hands are tied when it comes to things like this. I figured I would vent a little bit and see if anyone else out there has had similar issues.

-Have you ever had clients that simply HAVE to be involved in every step of the project? If so, how did you handle it?

-What do you consider to be reasonable when it comes to making revisions? Do you keep fixing and tweaking until the client says OK- or do you take total creative control and say "here it is, like it or lump it!" (that's a slight exaggeration, but I think you get my point)

-How have you dealt with overly nit-picky clients?

-Or even better, how have you dealt with overly nit-picky clients that don't know what they want, but they know that they don't want whatever you crank out for them?

For now, I try to be friendly and professional no matter what, even though it becomes quite challenging with some people! Like I said, I'm just curious to see how other people here deal with these issues.

Cheers!
Shawn McCalip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 31st, 2007, 02:17 AM   #2
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Posts: 59
Well, I'm not a certified business person, and I just recently graduated from college, but from my experience and my professors stories, here are some tips.

Make in your contract something such as "x amount of revisions for x amount, anything over is extra". So like "3 revisions after first draft for $5,000. Every revison after is $1000". Those are just random prices, but you get the idea. I don't know how the professionals do it, but one of my professors said that's how she did it way back in the 80's.

Another thing is as far as letting clients get involved; if you trust their judgement. My recent music video client hired me two days before they intended to shoot the video (should have never done it, but I needed the money), and he had got everything together from locations to actors and everything. He even had a storyboard and script. I was impressed, but guess what?

IT WAS HORRIBLE!!@!

My God, was it terrible. The locations were terrible (it was suppose to be a scene that took place in a church, but it looked more like an empty bingo night) and the extras were parents of the step team that was performing for the video. Did I mention the step team could only perform for 30 minutes?

It was terrible, and if I ever do another music video for him, I will not let him get anywhere near anything until it's time for him to get on camera.

Another client I had did the same thing as far as getting locations, extras and props, and the video came out fantastic! Mainly because he understood the creative process and what looks good for television. He also gave me a list of revisions that I had no problem with, because it was exact down to the second. We only had to do two revisions.

So yeah, it's all in how much you trust the clients vision and stuff, because some don't realize what is good and what isn't. Just stay professional, but let them know that you're in control and this is your job and you know what's best.

Hope that helped some.
__________________
Green Bench Productions
John Holland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 31st, 2007, 06:57 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Jupiter, FL
Posts: 565
You really need to draw up a contract. I do not allow "clients' to sit in on the editing process. I send them a timecoded dvd for revisions. It is stated in my contract that they are allowed 1 set of changes and anything after that is $150/hr. Yes that includes rendering time. This is a business. So yes you should charge by the hour when they want multiple changes. Want us to fly down and reshoot, new charge...I'll re shoot and re edit as much as they want, because my contract states that I charge for anything outside the original agreement on a day rate or hourly basis.
__________________
Mark
www.sharkvp.com
Mark Bournes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 31st, 2007, 09:04 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
I had a GREAT independend mechanic that worked on my old Volvo back when I was in college.

And the first thing you saw when you entered his shop was a sign that said:

Labor: $35/hour
If you watch: $65/hour
If you help: $125/hour


Wisdom is all around us.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 31st, 2007, 09:58 PM   #5
New Boot
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Aurora, Illinois
Posts: 21
Well, each to their own. I encourage our clients to sit in on edit sessions. It's their money, and their product. They usually know a lot more about the subject matter (it's their business, their clients, their products and services). I know about video. Two head are better than one.

If a client is sitting in on the edit (and involved in the shoot), we know right away if we are doing what they like, and change it on the spot. To my way of thinking, that's a lot more efficient than doing the whole project, and then finding out that we were on the wrong path and have to make a lot of changes after the fact.

In case of the "problem" clients, we make one of two choices. Either we take the problem into account before the next project and quote it accordingly, or we let them be our competitor's problem. As long as our clients pay their bills on time, I prefer the former choice. More often than not, the problems with clients are due to the fact that the client doesn't know anything about video production. After they go through the process once or twice, the problems usually go away.

I also try to do as many projects as I can on a fixed quote, rather than hourly. The client knows up front what it's going to cost, and then they base their decisions on what works, instead of how much something is going to cost. I probably wind up spending 10 or 20 percent more time than I originally thought, but the client always leaves happy. More importantly, they come back. I've had some clients for more than 20 years.

This is just one man's way of doing business, and not meant to challenge other methods. But I can tell you that I have gotten a lot of clients from my competitors that refuse to let the client participate in the editing suite, or do everything hourly. We got a new client just last week, as a matter of fact, for exactly that reason. It wa s a very nice $15,000 job. YMMV.

Mark
Mark Hislop is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 31st, 2007, 10:11 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Los Angeles CA USA
Posts: 507
I tend to do a combination of methods.

Something like this:

I estimate what I think it will cost to do a decent job. How much time, how many revisions seems fair, materials, deliverables, etc. I may pad this, but not a lot.

Then I quote a modified (qualified) block rate:
"$10,000 against four weeks, at 40 hours a week, which is 160 hours (or whatever), with two rounds of notes"
and then I go
"time over that basic 160 hours will cost you X per hour plus expenses."

I usually present the basic cost at a discounted rate, and the overage at my regular hourly rate, so they can see how much I'm discounting to get their business.


And I also don't forget to include a delivery and payment schedule with that quote, typically half up front, a quarter on the first rough cut and the balance plus all material costs against final deliverables.

Oh, and for people I know will pay late, I pad for bank charges and then offer them the pad back as discount for early payment.
Most accountants know from my pad percentage what I'm doing, and will pay promptly, since they prefer that amount to be in their own bank accounts and not in mine.
Chris Leong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 31st, 2007, 10:48 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Creswell Oregon
Posts: 380
I try to involve clients in every aspect of the production and invite them to sit in on the editing. I go over every single step of everything with them, and give them a very detailed price quote when I bid the job. This way if the client ends up not being happy with something, or wanting changes I can remind them that it was their call, they made the choice to have it be that way- and i will happily re-shoot or re-edit but that it will cost more.

A while ago I did a video for a large auto company. It paid very well, they assured me all I had to do was shoot. They had a director, cast, script, already rehearsed- I just needed to show up with my gear and shoot. I arrived and nothing was ready. The had an army of consultants working on the project, each and every one had their own idea of it should be. They kept rewriting the script as we were shooting- having to go back and re-shoot parts because they changed the script after it had been shot. Even worse the project's director had no film/video experience. He was a manager with the company with a serious superiority complex who wanted to direct.

I politely offered my expertise and they declined. I shot it exactly as they wanted it, with no cut points, no close ups, no wide shots. I tried to tell them they needed these shots, but they wanted all medium shots. Thankfully I didn't have to edit the thing. Hard to believe this was a large scale production by one of the worlds largest automakers.
__________________
My Website - www.nweventvideo.com
Adam Grunseth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 3rd, 2007, 12:56 AM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hislop View Post
Well, each to their own. I encourage our clients to sit in on edit sessions. It's their money, and their product. They usually know a lot more about the subject matter (it's their business, their clients, their products and services). I know about video. Two head are better than one.


Yeah, Mark. But there are clients and there are clients.

First off, the stuff you mention should ALL be settled in scripting and pre-pro. If they're making significant CONTENT changes in the edit suite, someone hasn't done their job.

Sure there are good clients who make good suggestions and they should ALWAYS be accommodated. But it's just not fair to expect the client to understand that they don't need to make a comment like "does that shot look a little yellow?" when you haven't even STARTED to think about the color correction stage.

I also invite any client to sit in whenever they want. But I always warn them that WATCHING editing is about as excited as watching paint dry.

I tell them if they want to spend 50 or so hours a week for the next few weeks doing that I'm MORE than happy to have them camp out.

Takers so far? ZERO.

They want to see a rough cut. Possibly take that back to the HQ for review. Then come in for the final tweeks live in the studio.

I'm about as "client centric" as anyone in this business. I hugely value them and their input. I make EVERYTHING about making them happy.

I'll even gladly teach them what I can about judging and improving an edit if they want to sit through the whole process. But the reality, at least in the corporate video world - is that most of them don't - nor should they. That's the expertise they're paying me for.

Said simpler, bringing in a client at a point where they can make a positive contribution is both necessary and valuable. Bringing them in at other times is a distraction and counter productive.

At worst - it spawns satire.

Want proof? Head over to YouTube and search under "Rough Cut Lady Song"

That and the companion videos are a hoot. There's some truth to be found in the humor - and also a dollop of insider/outsider condesention.

Worth listening to, tho.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 4th, 2007, 06:27 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: London, England
Posts: 969
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
I had a GREAT independend mechanic that worked on my old Volvo back when I was in college.

And the first thing you saw when you entered his shop was a sign that said:

Labor: $35/hour
If you watch: $65/hour
If you help: $125/hour


Wisdom is all around us.
I'm going to get me a sign like that. Though I think I'll put the prices up a tad.

As for the OP, managing client expectations is something you learn with experience. Some clients can be good in the edit suite others not.

Try and look at things from their perspective, at least you'll have an understanding of where they are coming from and even if you don't agree with them it will help you find a good solution.

It's always best to agree an edit approval procedure before you start. I usually find that if a client knows that making certain changes will hit him/her in the pocket it will usually stop them messing around unnecessarily.

BTW. I once locked a client in toilet because he was being a pain. Another one got tied to a chair with gaffer tape. I really should heed my own advice...

Liam.
__________________
Writer-Director-DOP
www.liamhall.net
Liam Hall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 4th, 2007, 08:08 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Anchorage, AK
Posts: 315
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam Hall View Post
BTW. I once locked a client in toilet because he was being a pain. Another one got tied to a chair with gaffer tape.
I'd like to hear those stories! Hehe... There are a few clients I know who would probably benefit from such "progressive" treatment!

This is pretty cool- seeing these different responses. Excellent discussion! It's quite interesting and informative for me, since I'm not in business for myself. I don't have to go out and find my own clients, but the more time I spend here where I work, the more I see it as a double-edged sword. Especially so after reading a few postings.

Granted, everything should be pre-planned and scripted as completely as possible. I aim for nothing short of that. The hurdle to cross is the predominant attitude that "the customer is always right." I'm all for customer satisfaction, but there has to be a limit where the client takes their hands out of the barrel to let us do our jobs. If there are too many chefs in the kitchen, nothing will get done without headache.

For the most part, I enjoy allowing clients to watch for part of the editing process. I get a kick out some people's reactions when I apply a little effect or when they see what keyframes do. Some people acquire a newfound respect for the work when they see firsthand that its not just a magic box with one big button that says "make video"...

Then there are those that will sit down and scrub through tape after tape of footage to find those "perfect" takes. You'll go back and forth between 2 clips for what seems like an eternity, only to have them decide on the inferior of the two shots. Then, 3 weeks down the road, they'll call back and say they wanted that other shot back in there. Oh, and they want all new music with more "zazz"! This is the sort of thing I'd like to avoid.

Thankfully, it seems that you freelancers and sole proprietors have more of a firm grip on that area!
Shawn McCalip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 4th, 2007, 08:38 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: chattanooga, tn
Posts: 721
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
Labor: $35/hour
If you watch: $65/hour
If you help: $125/hour
Beautiful! lol!

When these kinds of situations arise, I inform my clients that they are more than welcome to get as hands-on as they'd like, but I warn them at the same time that bringing them into the editing room will slow the process down to a crawl and possibly end up costing them 4 or 5 times as much money. This usually changes their minds in a hurry.

Every now and then, you still get someone who doesn't care about the expense and wants to hold your hand anyway. I figure as long as someone is paying me for my time, he or she can drag editing out as long as he or she wants to. It does get nerve-wracking to have someone looking over your shoulder and second-guessing every tiny little tweak, but I comfort myself in these cases with the knowledge that the client is paying through the nose for the privilege of acting in this way.
__________________
-->jarrod whaley.
www.oakstreetfilms.com
Jarrod Whaley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 7th, 2007, 05:03 AM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
Posts: 471
In my contract it states that the client needs to pay an hourly rate for re-editing & DVD authoring for creative changes. Technical errors are fixed free of charge.
Scott Jaco is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:06 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network