Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Strategies for working effectively with clients, part of Filmmaking Forum: Conversations.
- Hi, everyone. In this episode of the film making forum conversations course, we're gonna talk all about working with clients. Now, this includes the important art of listening, good communication, setting clear expectations, and ensuring happy clients to result in future referrals. I hope you enjoy. - [Voiceover] The most important thing to do is to listen to what the client needs. They know their business, they know their objectives, they know the strategy, they know what they need, so I never come to the table assuming I have a better knowledge of their business and what they're trying to achieve.
So, it's a lot of listening. I don't bring me and my agenda, I bring me and my listening skills. So, I climb inside their head, I listen to what they're telling me and then I try and reflect it back in a short form that I think is hitting all the points they want. I think that's the most important thing. - Listening skills' very important. First question I ask a client, what is the goal of this product? That's gonna every decision I make, it's gonna be based on that. So, if they tell me well, the goal is that I'm trying to sell more of my widgets. Okay, I understand that, or the goal might be that well, I want people to know that we also do this thing that people didn't know before, or I want to appeal to a younger demographic.
That changes everything. So, it's very important to know what the client is trying to accomplish because they don't always know how to accomplish that. - [Voiceover] I think it's really important to be transparent and to be very straightforward about what you're providing to the client. I think if you can be very, very articulate and explain it in a way where they understand it, because I think there's a technical, obviously, gap between usually client, you bring the technical speciality and they bring the product that they want to emphasize. So, like, you have to make sure that you articulate it in a way where they understand where you're coming from, what your vision is.
- And sometimes you gotta read between the lines. People are not technical, they're not filmmakers, they're not storytellers, they're business people, or they're, you know, deans or they're the head of whatever the organization is but they aren't necessarily storytellers, so my job is to figure out how to take their goal and translate that onto video in the time and resources that we have. - [Voiceover] They may not be as articulate as a film director who can tell you exactly why something's not working or provide a suggestion.
A client might just be like, well, I don't like that music, and if you say well, do you have an idea for music, it's just like, no, I just don't like that. So (laughs), it can be like a little bit more you know, you're trying to figure out what they want but I don't mind it, it can be more challenging, you cut like a something you consider super artistic, creative commercial and then the client comes back and says well, we need more of our product branding in the commercial.
Like, we need a shot of our product right here, and you think to yourself, well, that makes no story sense. Like, you're ruining our artistic vision here, but, ultimately, there's kind of nothing you can do about it. Like, you just sort of have to say, "Okay, I hear you, let me make that shot "as artistic as I possibly can." - If my client says they want it done this way and that's gonna make them happier, I will let them know that information, but I'm not gonna argue with them. Very rarely will I, you know, press very hard for it, because, at the end of the day, you're paying for it, I'm gonna give you what you want in the way you want it, and maybe sometimes I might sneak in a shot or two for my demo reel, the way that I want to do it or do my own cut later on, but that's not unusual that I'll do something for a client and they just have a different vision then what I feel very strongly about as a filmmaker, but, at the end of the day, it's a work-for-hire, this is their product, it's not my product, so I'm gonna do it in your way.
- In the sort of commercial corporate world, there's a lot more levels of people to go through before you can get a final approval on something. Whereas, on a film it's kind of just you and the director for a while, then it's you and the director and the producer, and that's kind of the most it ever gets. But in a corporate world, it's like, you, the director, the agency, the client, and there's within the client, there's different levels of approval there. So, there's a lot of voices and you're kind of at the whim of what the client wants because you want the client to be happy.
- But, I like to say that I only have one kind of client and that's happy clients. When you're doing work for hire, as far as I'm concerned, the most important thing at the end of the day, is that the people that hire me walk away happy and satisfied that they got what they came for, at least got their money's worth under the circumstances, whatever that might have been. Because those people are people that are gonna call me back, those people are people that are gonna recommend me to other filmmakers, which is how I got this current job that I'm going on today, was just a call from another happy client. How did I get that previous happy client? From another happy client.
- Advice for novice filmmakers entering the industry
- Finding, enhancing, and tweaking your story
- Experimenting in filmmaking
- Solving problems and troubleshooting your film
- Changing your approach or finding new angles
- Communicating and collaborating on set and in the edit room—and with clients
- Working on different genres of film
- Teaching and mentoring new filmmakers