Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Office

I tell students often that the hardest part of being a filmmaker is getting the job. Once you get the job you just do what you have been training to do and the work should be easy. But that's not really true, the REAL hardest part of the job is dealing with the client.

Out favorite clients are the ones that say, "Jim, Peter we want you to go to London to shoot a couple of days and then take a day or two for yourselves." This actually has happened, and when it did, I immediately hit the phone and got us a reservation at The River Cafe- our favorite restaurant.

Unfortunately for the dumb filmmaker and his business partner this is a rare occurrence. More commonly we get a agency producer or client who likes to micro-manage. On more than one occasion- see my Cozmic Crunch post- we have had to handhold someone through the process and make a ton of changes only to come back to our original vision.

It is a paradox I never seem to get my head around. We've been hired because the client has seen our work and liked it, spoken with us, agreed to a budget, and then instead of letting us do that work they get all super hands on and controlling.

I don't get it.

When I go to a restaurant I do not barge into the kitchen and ask the chef why he is braising the osso bucco like that. I choose the dish and it is delivered to me. Then, if I have questions I ask. (A little more lemon zest perhaps, but I am finicky.) Yet, in this business you find this all too frequently.

I was recently telling a friend about a project and said we padded a budget because instinctively we knew the client was going to need managing. They will spend more money because we will have to spend time massaging the client, rather than being filmmakers. I think it goes both ways: if the client is a micro-manager then we will need to manage them more. You get what you pay for but please try to stay out of our kitchen. If you need more lemon zest, we'll deliver


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