Clients want to be involved in the creative process. Most of the time.
But sometimes they give you a budget and say get on with it. This is both the best news, and the worst news. Because you have free reign to do what you want but there are no guidelines and it might bite you in the arse.
Sometimes you’ll get a brief that is so broad and has no real direction, like ‘We want a video that shows how dynamic we are as a company.’
What the hell does that even mean?
Your job as a director is to dig deeper, get the answers you need. Ask the client questions, find out what they think is the most dynamic part of their business. Find out what they mean by their brief. Nine times out of ten they have a bigger brief in mind.
The other problem I stumble upon is lack of assets for a project, recently I worked with Red Bull to make a motion graphics based launch trailer for their new gaming competition.
All they gave me was a poster and a list of games.The producer gave me a script and said they want it in 5 days… So no brief, no assets, a script and no real idea what they want… And 5 days.
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It’s easy to sit there and moan about lack of brief or complain you have no assets to work with, to tell the client they’ll get minimum return because of the lack of assets etc. Or you can get to work, and start putting together a storyboard of what needs to be done, use the script and what assets you have to plan out the production. See what you can make from the assets you have, then start looking elsewhere for bits you can add in, you’ve got the world at your fingertips with a computer.
Use your producer if you have one, tell him your vision, tell him what you need. Your job is to be creative, if you have a team around you who can do the donkey work then you’ve got more time to concentrate on making the best production you can.
Another example of no brief is a low budget music video I directed for a band called Dead Sea Skulls earlier this year. We’d been bouncing ideas around for months. But when the day came for the shoot, the location fell through, along with a ton of extras. What we did was use the time wisely and came up with a new idea on the spot. It’s not as exciting and narrative heavy as the first idea, but it captures the bands personality and does the song justice.
Again it’s all about using what you have at your disposal, thinking on the spot and making something from nothing. The client doesn’t want excuses, they want you to do the job.
So to summerise :
Stockpile information — Look at what you‘ve got and use absolutely everything from the brief, emails and conversations with the client to build a complete picture.
Offer solutions early one — Suggest multiple creative solutions for the client to approve
Don’t be afraid to freestyle new ideas on the spot — If you think it looks shit, suggest a different concept.
Use your tools — Your production team is there for a reason. Don’t do all the leg work, keep your eye on the prize and your mind on the creative. Producers produce, Directors Direct, Runners Run.
This great blog by Howard Ibach, explains how a bad client brief shouldn’t be the clients fault: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ad-agencies-bad-client-brief-your-fault-howard-ibach