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Bigger is better?

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Patrick Ortman
Bigger is better?
on Jan 17, 2014 at 10:31:30 pm

Happy 2014!

I was thinking about this today. Seems to me, with our business at least, that the bigger a client is (in terms of budget for their video), the better our working experience. The small budget projects seem to turn out to be a 50/50 split between good clients and effing grinders who try to make you insane. But once a budget gets to a certain level, that often goes away and the working experience becomes much nicer in every way.

Now, we use the same contracts for all projects, with minor changes. And yes, more money's fun and Cyndi Lauper sang 'Money changes everything' long time ago, but I don't think we treat the bigger ones much different than the smaller jobs based on that (that could be a problem for us- treating every gig as if it's a big deal).

Anyone else experience this? Or the opposite? I'm curious.

I shoot people.
http://www.patrickortman.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 17, 2014 at 10:54:27 pm

I find I have more direct communication with decision-makers in the smaller client orgs, versus the behemoths that have numerous intermediaries that each must add their approvals.

You always want to know who is the FINAL person that must approve something. It may not be the person you're working with, or even their immediate superior. So you could spend a lot of energy and time pleasing this person sitting in the suite with you, only to find out they actually have no ability to sign-off on what you did... and the one that DOES...

...hates it.


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Todd Terry
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 18, 2014 at 5:23:46 am

I've not really found that the size of a job (or size of a client) is relative to the pleasurability of the client to work with... or really the profitability, for that matter.

We've had small clients that were a pleasure, and small clients that were a magnificent pain in the ass. Same for the big ones.

It all depends on who you work with. Producing almost nothing but broadcast commercials, many of our clients are advertising agencies. Some of them a peaches to work with, but we also find that many of them (even otherwise good agencies) know bupkus about television. For those who realize that... they are a pleasure. Those that don't know TV but think they do, well, can be a bit more of a challenge. Strangely enough our three very largest clients (and two of them are multi-billion dollar outfits) do not have ad agencies and we work for them directly, not only as their production facility but at their creative agency as well. We love them.

We've also found that bigger does not always equal more profitable. We've had small jobs that actually had huge profit margins because we didn't spend much real money on their gigs... just brain power. Conversely we've had jobs with huge budgets... but in the end on paper you'll see that most of the money went back out the door... for talent, locations, sets, travel, crews, equipment, and a zillion other things... leaving not nearly as much money in our pockets.

Take voice tracks for example... if I need a VO with a little no-budget gig I might end up spending only a couple hundred bucks for a narrator, but I can mark him up 100% with no worries. But if I have a big job that warrants a bigshot known narrator that costs us a couple grand rather than a couple hundred... well, we can't afford to mark that guy up by nearly the same percentage.

Smaller can also equal faster which can be a good thing. Personally I really like the jobs where I can spend a day or two max directing on location or on stage... shoot the footage upstairs for another day or two in post to edit... then get it out the door, cash the check, and move on. For a really big job that drags on for a while, that can also delay getting money in the bank.

So... here it's a mixed bag. You never know what's coming up, or how much of a cakewalk (or lack thereof) it will be.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Bill Davis
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 18, 2014 at 7:00:52 am

I'm kinda with Terry.

I've seen large and great and small and great clients. And large and small nightmare ones.

I've seen "too hands off" and "way micro managed" - sometimes on the same project!

There is no perfect client because there are no perfect people. The best you can hope for is a great fit for your outfits skills and working with others who have similar values and expectations to your own.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Patrick Ortman
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 18, 2014 at 5:29:40 pm

I hear you guys, but remember: it's not the size of the client I'm talking about, but the size of the project's budget in relation to the size of the company. My experience over the past 5 years is if a project has a small budget, in relation to the size of the organization, that the client is often a major PITA. This could be a $2K project for a small company, or it could be a $20,000 project for a Fortune 500 company.

I'm saying that I've really noticed that if a project has a budget that "means something" to the organization, the experience is almost always much better.

I shoot people.
http://www.patrickortman.com


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Tom Sefton
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 19, 2014 at 9:54:38 am

Smaller client, larger budget = more likelihood of your time being wasted in pre-prod before they get cold feet about spending

Larger client, larger budget = potential for micro management and death by 1000 opinions

Ymmv


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Nick Griffin
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 20, 2014 at 3:29:53 pm

[Tom Sefton] "Smaller client, larger budget = more likelihood of your time being wasted in pre-prod before they get cold feet about spending

Larger client, larger budget = potential for micro management and death by 1000 opinions"


Been there. Got the T-shirt on both ends of the equation.

All the more reason that you have to do what it takes to keep the good ones happy.


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Todd Terry
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 20, 2014 at 7:14:08 pm

Micromanagement can happen with large and small companies, on large and small jobs. You can also be given free reign on jobs whether they be large or small, or companies large or small.

I've never really seen a pattern to it, although some people might have.

Not long ago we had a major change to a project that was a giant pain in the rear. We found out after the fact that virtually everyone was perfectly fine with and even loved the project as-is, from the company president on down. The change was requested by the mother-in-law of the company's front desk receptionist. Yes, mother-in-law. Of the part-time gal who answers the phones. Who wasn't even asked.

Didn't realize she got a vote.

As Nick says, keep the good ones happy.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Nick Griffin
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 20, 2014 at 7:32:32 pm

[Todd Terry] "Yes, mother-in-law. Of the part-time gal who answers the phones."

Okay, Todd. That's a new one. Over the years I've often sat there dumbstruck as a big, powerful executive with hundreds of employees reporting to him says, "Well, I like it, but I have to show it to my wife. She took a semester of advertising in college." (Or something equally stupid.)


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Tom Sefton
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 21, 2014 at 8:44:15 am

Very true - got to love your clients!

Interestingly, in the last 6 months we've been having many, many more enquiries from smaller firms with ambitious ideas. The challenge for us seems to be developing an instinct for those that will progress with a project, versus those that will take a lot of our time before postponing. Hopefully signs of an economy that is starting to lift….


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Roger Van Duyn
Re: Bigger is better?
on Jan 22, 2014 at 1:26:07 pm

Isn't it great when a client dreams big, and actually has a budget to match!

Roger


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