Giving the Script to a Potential Client
I hired a script writer to make a script which I will then show to my corporate client. My client hasn't paid me anything yet so paying the script writer is somewhat risky for me. If the company rejects me (probably after learning that they do not like my price) I would have then already paid the script writer for a worthless script. What do you guys do in these situations?
Do you show the whole script to the client or just a part of it? I'm afraid that they might just get my ideas, or worse, copy it and have other productions do the video.
How could you possibly be at the scripting stage when you haven't even landed the job yet? You haven't even discussed price and you're hiring a scriptwriter!??! You have really set yourself up to lose money.
Typically you should give the client a creative treatment including a short sampling of a script when necessary in your proposal. Once they accept your proposal, you should work out a payment schedule including a deposit to work on the project. You should also have a contract that the client signs upon accepting your proposal. Then you write the script! Always make sure that at the very least you have enough deposit to cover hiring a scriptwriter, crew, studio, or any other out of pocket costs you will incur.
Chances are if the client does not hire you based on price, they will hire someone else and save money because they now have a script.
Again Finished scripts come after the client has hired you. Good Luck.
Thanks Greg! That's very helpful. The reason I hired a storyboard maker and a scriptwriter is because in an old thread that I've read, you cannot expect a company to hire you without them seeing your storyboard or script first. Otherwise, it will be too risky for the company. You can't sell them something that they cannot see. In this case, what is the best solution? If I have the scriptwriter make a sample script (probably it will be the first lines of the actual script), I will have to pay him (probably partially) without assurance that the project will be approved. The risk now transferred from the client to me. Thanks again.
I don't know what type of video you produce, or what type of clients you have. But for me, it will take at the very least a meeting with the client to discuss the project and a meeting wth the client and scriptwriter to get the information needed to write a script.
Let's use a custom home builder as an example. Basically what you suggesting is have an architect design a home for free, create the blueprints and then see if the home buyer will hire him. That's all backwards.
You're designing a video program and then trying to get the client to approve it. Again all you should be doing is providing a creative treatment and walking them through the project, explaining how you'll approach it. You're jumping ahead of yourself with storyboards and scripts.
If you follow the way I'm suggesting you work, you won't lose a project based on the fact the client doesn't like the first script. You'll work on the script once they hire you, and then you can keep making changes until they are happy. With your techniques, you might as well produce the whole video for them and if they like it they'll pay. See what I mean?
To follow up on Greg's advice, as a producer, you really should be able to write up a short treatment and the first page of a script yourself. It's not brain surgery, it's basic communication. It's nothing more than telling/showing your client how you plan to meet their business needs with the video. The "idea" is the key, not your price. It's also the information you should be able to give to any writer you hire.
If you are too unsure of yourself, then hiring a writer is something that you should do and you should look at it as a business investment, not as throwing money away. And you don't need to have him/her do the whole script, just the treatment. Even if you don't win the contract, you'll have a treatment that you can use as a model moving forward with the next client.
I agree wholeheartedly. What you've done here is supply a script "on spec". This is done sometimes for theatrical stuff, rarely for advertising, but not really on corporate/industiral/training/marketing.
I agree the most you should pitch them with at first is a treatment, but how would you even DO a good treatment without first taking a meeting and doing a Needs Analysis? Handing over a finshed script this early in the game will usually lead to you losing the gig, because a client with a lack of vision will fixate on one little item in that script, like a piece of dialog, and, rejecting that, he rejects the entire creative approach and you with it. Even if its an easy change to make.
Your writer did the job you asked him/her to do, you need to pay them anyhow. You should also have the script registered with the Guild and copyrighted to protect you if the client decides to steal it verbatim.
I once did a pitch to some appliance store owners for an entire campaign on radio, very comprehensive. It took me two hours of interviewing them and two days of going over the tape transcripts, brainwork and writing to generate the creative approach and treatments and schedules and come back and pitch the entire month-long evolving campaign, after which they said, "nice but not hard-sell enough, we might want to use one or two of the ideas out of it though. If you come back here to buy a washing machine, we'll give you a break on the price." I wished them well and never looked back.
They tried to lift a few of my ideas and use them in the eventual hard-sell 3-day on-air campaign they cribbed from my notes, but the radio station drones they gave my work to didn't have the entire picture of how this was supposed to work, and fumbled the execution quite badly.
I entered my original versions in a local media awards contest and won top prize, go figure. Appliance store folded a month or two later. I figure that was karma.
Let me recommend a book that's helped a lot of corporate video people, you can find it used on Amazon:
Scriptwriting for high-impact videos
Morley is to corporate production what Syd Field is to screenwriters.
Thanks for plugging my book Mark. Although writing the creative treatment first has been suggested in this string, it needs to be emphasized as an essential document.
The first step toward creating an effective informational video is to forget about doing a video. Focus first on the needs and objectives of the client. That's what your client cares about. Once you clearly state -- in writing -- that you understand your client's issues, and know how they can be resolved, that's when your client is more likely to trust you.
For corporate video, the treatment is a business document and a specification sheet. A professional would no more write a script without treatment approval than a manufacturer would design a product without knowing the specifications. Typical treatment format includes:
Background - What's the problem?
Objectives - How must the audience think or behave differently to solve the problem?
Strategies - What will be done to change thinking or behavior?
Implementation - Active voice, present tense description of what will be seen and heard.
It's not brain surgery, but it needs a lot of thought, and can do more to build comfort factor with your client than anything else you do. Keep in mind, a script is an exotic-looking document that clients usually lack the experience or imagination to understand. It can be confusing and intimidating.
A treatment is a standard, full-margin document, written in terms of analysis and objectives that business folks understand. It creates comfort and makes them much more likely to part with budget.
If you want to see a couple of sample treatments, send me an email requesting them and I will email them to you. Better yet, buy the book, and have the whole process clearly described for you.
About the book, Scriptwriting for High-Impact Videos, a new, second edition was published earlier this year. So be sure that, if you buy, you buy the one for this century.
Best of luck with your project.
Can I see the samples, John. Thanks!
Can I see the samples, John. Thanks!
I will need an email address. Send an email to John@OriginalVision.com and I will reply with the sample treatments.
I just bought 10 copies of your book. I must confess though, that I can't get out of the first three chapters. Every time I read a few paragraphs I end up walking around the house talking to myself making notes, trying to memorize certain phrases and calling people up and telling them how much they need this book. I won't go into detail, but what I have been going through for the past five years with some of my corporate clients has been extremely frustrating. From "let's just shoot it" to "we can fix that later" or " I just threw together a quick script", your book has given me the tools to educate and enlighten the folks I am doing business with. John, I am hoping you have an audio version in the works so folks like me can listen and learn while doing other things. A tip of the hat to Mark Suszko for bringing your book to my attention.
Thanks for the kind words abut Scriptwriting for High-Impact Videos. I am pleased and honored that it is helping you to "coach" your clients toward more effective preproduction. And I certainly owe a lot of gratitude to Mark Suszko for telling you about my book.
Video is great at illusion. Its greatest illusion is that you just click record and say whatever occurs to you. The recording is easy, it's the occurring that's hard.
The audio version sounds like a good idea (as long as I can sell enough of them). I recently finished recording demonstrations for Movie Magic Screenwriter software, so I can sure take a stab at reading my own book out loud. As a proof of concept, let me know the next chapter you want to hear and I will record it as a .mov file. I imagine that you are better prepared than I to convert it into the format that would be best for your use.
And please keep in mind that if you or your clients need help with scriptwriting, that's what I do for a living.
Thanks for getting back to me. If you could record Chapter Five that would be great. I am a retired (hate that word) multimedia marketing manager. I spent 26 years in sales and marketing for two major pharmaceutical companies where I got experience on corporate structure and internal process.Now I have my own multimedia production company and business is booming. I started shooting video in 1999 and immediately used that medium to increase communications and grow my customer base. Most of what I do is chroma-key. I present an e-strategy to corporate clients for internal and external use consisting of e-mail marketing, web design and video. Almost every company I deal with needs communication in sales, marketing, manufacturing, human resources, patient education and executive communication. Your book has given me the tools to present the value of video to my potential clients. I don't think there has ever been a better time to be in this exciting new world of multimedia. The economy being what it is and where this technology can take us is thrilling. Clients need to think differently and educating them is a big part of what I do. Do you have a blog or do speaking engagements? I recently spoke to a group of event videographers who are feeling the effects of the economy, who are not comfortable in the corporate world and I touted your book and was very well received. I think the audio version would be a great fit for this group and others trying to get more corporate work.
I hope to have chapter five recorded soon.
I have finished recording chapter 5, Seven Strategies for Improving any Treatment/Video as two Quick Time files and posted them at http://originalvision.com/script_book.htm.
At the top of the page, click the link for Recorded Chapters. I will leave it to you to convert it into another format, if needed, and combine the two parts.
There is currently no charge to download these sample chapters. If you do, please provide some feedback on technical quality, voice quality and whether you would be willing to purchase a recording of the entire book, along with the file format that you prefer, to me at John@OriginalVision.com.
I hope that this is of help to you.