Clients to avoid like the plague in video production

When you want to buy something, you have a very clear idea of how much you want to spend on it. You can buy a car for $1000, $50,000 or $500,000 — these options are all legitimate, but they are not equivalent. You are not indifferent to the options: you know exactly which category is relevant to you and pursue it to the exclusion of the others.

Unfortunately, prospective clients who are investigating the possibility of producing a video or TV commercial do not have the same mindset. They typically ask production companies how much it would cost to make a TV spot. That’s like calling up a car dealer and asking how much cars cost. That question is simply absurd: do you want a 20-year-old Toyota, a new Lexus, or a Ferrari? You simply can’t ask how much a car will cost until you specify which category you are interested in. In other words, I cannot answer the question until you disclose your budget.

But they just don’t get it. You politely ask them about the budget, and they repeat the question: “How much will it cost?”

If you take that kind of attitude, the only answer we can give you is this: the floor is the limit. If you go in with the mindset of wanting to spend as little as possible, things are just not going to work out. That is simply not how production works. You must have a specific figure in mind and then shop around for the best value, just as you would with buying any other product.

My advice to production-service providers is that when they come across a client who won’t answer the budget question and simply keeps asking how much it will cost, they quite simply don’t know what they’re doing. There is a very high chance that these guys will never produce anything, because they can never find a quote that is low enough — until, of course, they hit rock bottom and they get Uncle Bob to shoot it with his camcorder and then put it on YouTube.

4 Replies to “Clients to avoid like the plague in video production”

  1. How true. Get as much as you can signed and approved upfront. Make sure your client understands that you will do your best and they hired you because you have a set of skills they do not. Beyond that, if they want work redone, MAKE SURE your contract indicates that YOU GET PAID for the extra work. You may not think the a*****e who will refuse everything you do, could possibly exist, or that someone who paid will work against his own best interest; you’ll be surprised at what’s out there. And don’t assume that your client’s prestigious profession or job title makes them intellectually or morally superior; I’ve seen all kinds. All that being said, if you take the right steps to protect yourself, film planning and production is a very enjoyable business.

  2. in my country nigeria most film productions hire equipment and sometimes it may be very expensive and our broadcast house are not even buying content these make it difficult

  3. This article hits my situation on the nail dealing with the independent music scene. I shoot music videos and presentations and artist contact me wanting to know the cost of my services. Well budget is very important for me to know how big or how far I can expand my creativity. Because I do it for fun and for the love of filming I accept low amounts of money to work with the artist but I am disappointed in the potential of would I really could do if they spent the right kind of money.

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