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joedonaldson

Commercial Work With Boundaries

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Hey all.

 

Recenetly I was asked to write a post for Motionographer discussing a buisiness model I have been working with on my independant work. You can check it out here: http://motionographer.com/2014/06/02/commercial-work-with-boundaries-the-commissioned-work-model/

 

I'd love to hear any of your stories with similar situations and if you have any questions let me know.

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Good read, and great spot.

I'm curious about the back and forth between you and the client. I know you probably showed them stuff along the way, which is how they chimed in on the silo on the farm scene, but how much back and forth was there?

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Good read, and great spot.

I'm curious about the back and forth between you and the client. I know you probably showed them stuff along the way, which is how they chimed in on the silo on the farm scene, but how much back and forth was there?

 

Thanks for the kind words.

 

The breakdown was pretty simple. Once the contract was signed. I sent over pencil sketches of all the scenes as well as an animatic of them timed out to the VO and three style frames. The silo issue came up at the very beginning in the first set of frames. The idea of no revisions for me is pretty loose. Its more so to limit the amount of nit picking and bullshittery that tends to happens. If there is a solid reason behind a change or it helps tell the story better I am all for it. Another example is that that original trailer design didnt resemble their actual trailer so I reworked it.

 

Even though we didnt have schedued check ins I kept in pretty close contact with Julie. She knew that once the wheels were in motion it was limited what we could change so it was more so to ease their insecurities since they hadnt worked with animation before and to keep them excited about the projects progress.

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It's a cool post and appreciate the sharing and sparking the thought and discussion.

 

Although for me I guess it kinda seems like a weird distinction in what you described as there are still revisions they are just productive revisions happening within a healthy client relationship.

 

Which is why I kind of think the issue is not so much revisions as having healthy and respectful client relationships.

 

I actually like revisions if they come from a place of making the end result better and often they do, sometimes they don't. A lot of times it's also just an issue of budget and schedule e.g. in theory it would be cool to redo a spot through a bunch more revisions to really hone and tighten and the client is pushing for this even if the budget isn't there.

 

In some ways it's maybe a question of semantics but I prefer to look at it as: I love revisions and my struggle is really to just have more and more great client relationships where everyone's approach to revisions is how can we make this project better while also staying within budget, rather than necessarily focusing on limiting revisions.

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It's a cool post and appreciate the sharing and sparking the thought and discussion.

 

Although for me I guess it kinda seems like a weird distinction in what you described as there are still revisions they are just productive revisions happening within a healthy client relationship.

 

Which is why I kind of think the issue is not so much revisions as having healthy and respectful client relationships.

 

I actually like revisions if they come from a place of making the end result better and often they do, sometimes they don't. A lot of times it's also just an issue of budget and schedule e.g. in theory it would be cool to redo a spot through a bunch more revisions to really hone and tighten and the client is pushing for this even if the budget isn't there.

 

In some ways it's maybe a question of semantics but I prefer to look at it as: I love revisions and my struggle is really to just have more and more great client relationships where everyone's approach to revisions is how can we make this project better while also staying within budget, rather than necessarily focusing on limiting revisions.

 

To clarify in the current model after the design phase the project is locked. I loosely work with the client to make sure the story and style fit, then when we are in agreement move on. Both the issues above were design related, were aired out early on in the process and both helped to tell the story better so I obliged.

 

This is more of a commission model than it is a commercial one.

 

I also dont feel this is a black and white situation. The main goal is to retain as much freedom on our end as possible. While attempting to turn demands into requests and respecting each others boundaries and expertise.

 

The idea isn't focused just on revisions, in this case that is what was cut to keep costs down, but it is more focused on boundaries.

 

My day job consists of working at studios and with agencies and the never ending rounds of revisions. It is my bread and butter and I love that. Admittedly, I know this won't work for the majority of clients. The way I look at it is that if I can do three or so of these a year than that is three projects I can really own.

 

It's quite unfortunate but more often than not the one who signs the checks calls all the shots and overreaching does happen. This was all brought about as a way of contrasting that with my independent work.

 

I dont think this is the end all be all business model just that there is room for this in the industry with small clients and that with propper communication and respect can yield great results.

Edited by joedonaldson

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Yeah I totally hear you, and totally think it's worthwhile to try and take more ownership of projects.

 

I run my own small studio so it might skew my view a bit since I do get a little more creative control even when working on agency projects, and I usually do get to weigh in at least to some degree on how to handle changes and requests.

 

But I do think you have to be careful as people agreeing to give up control in exchange for a deal doesn't always work, I've found it's hard for people to really understand what they are signing away and at the end of the day clients want what they want regardless of discount etc. I've had this approach work great for me, but I've also had it lead to situations where I had to just do revisions anyways and eat the cost.

 

We've tried this model a bit when we do some projects for non profits or startups and I've found sometimes the clients with lower budgets that are less experienced in commissioning work that have the most trouble imagining what a project will be like without getting a more full version of it.

 

Anyhow I agree that there is no black and white and no right or wrong model, so all this is meant in the spirit of furthering the discussion, and I definitely think there is a lot of merit in looking at the kind of model you outlined.

 

To me this is exactly what it's all about

The main goal is to retain as much freedom on our end as possible. While attempting to turn demands into requests and respecting each others boundaries and expertise.

 

 

Only difference is I feel like this is for each and every project regardless of client or budget, but I guess it is tricky to do on a regular basis especially if you are freelancing on-site.

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We've tried this model a bit when we do some projects for non profits or startups and I've found sometimes the clients with lower budgets that are less experienced in commissioning work that have the most trouble imagining what a project will be like without getting a more full version of it.

 

 

I totally agree. I dont forsee this always being a smooth direction to go. I was really lucky since Julie came to me specifically because of The Times piece. She knew what I could do and what she wanted. You can tell when viewing both pieces they definitely live within the same space. This drastically helped in narrowing down the style/direction. Without that the project could have turned out much differently.

 

As of now it's still just kind of an experiment to see what it yields and where it takes me.

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That's so exciting to see. I think there's a huge potential benefit from reintroducing this working relationship back into the industry. Treating design as a professional service, with the client's role and the designer's roles clearly delineated so that everyone's expertise is used most efficiently. The client best understands business/marketing goals, and the designer best understands how to communicate to audiences to achieve those goals.

 

It was pretty interesting to read the polarized reactions in that "one concept" thread from a few weeks ago. I hope this basic idea starts filtering through the industry, in some form. For everyone's sake, really. Congrats, Joe!

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Looked at one way, this isn't anything ground-breaking. But my gut feeling about it is that it's very, very timely in our particular corner of the creative universe, and will strike a chord with many. I guess that could be why Motionographer wanted it.

 

As someone who is currently trying to wrap up a project which has been over-amended by a box-ticking stakeholder committee, arse-licking agency partners, production company producer (who was actually very good) and freelance temp cover for the above - I am about ready for a direct-to-client relationship and some boundaries!

 

Do you think this kind of thing would work with agencies involved? I guess it's possible, but the simplicity and honesty of the direct relationship seems of essence.

 

So designers need greater visibility (representation, even?) and end-clients need greater bravery, trust (both towards the designer and from their boss / team) and independence. I'd love to see this gain momentum, but surely it'a a shift that needs to occur across the board if it's to happen, not just within motion design?

Edited by kitkats

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For this to work you got to be confident in your work. Just like in any other field.

 

It's a good article and a good spot. I really liked it.

 

But it's not really ground breaking. Just common business knowledge. When you walk into the room/ send the email. You are the professional that has been hired for your professional knowledge. So you have to take it upon yourself to steer the project from your side and simply say: "in my professional opinion what you are requesting will look bad and not fulfill your goals"

 

It's like that episode of Seinfeld about the kitchen repairs:

 

 

except you know, we get hired because the client trusts us to make something pretty, and they've seen our portfolio.

 

To summarize though, good useful article, people should read it and implement it in their business models =)

Edited by vozzz

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Do you think this kind of thing would work with agencies involved? I guess it's possible, but the simplicity and honesty of the direct relationship seems of essence.

 

 

Early in my career I was working on a sizzle with a 'big time' NYC agency. There was a creative hurdle with no solution presented on one of the boards. I thought I was really being proactive with a solution approach. So I took it upon myself to just do it in the V1.

 

So, during the conference call, my solution was played back and there was definitely some positive vibes coming through the phone. Then the air sucked out of the room and there seemed to be a bit of disdain and incredulity that some unknown "hired hand" offered a solution to the problem. A lot of umming and ahhing and shuffling of papers. The producer passed me a note during the call saying the solution was great, but the agency wanted to "come up with the idea".

 

Fast forward 3 to the production of the actual broadcast spots based on the sizzle direction. They bring in the 'heavy guns' to create the spot because the agency had their roster they worked with for the national stuff.

 

Of course my solution was implemented in the final.... high-fives and back-patting all around the big oak table on Madison Ave.

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Do you think this kind of thing would work with agencies involved? I guess it's possible, but the simplicity and honesty of the direct relationship seems of essence.

 

 

 

I think if you have been working with the same agency and creative director for years and you have built up that two way communication it can happen… or close to it at least... but it definitely takes the right kind of creative director who is open and then you have to put in the time.

 

You do need at least some kind of direct communication with the creative director or art director, if you are dealing through a producer or some kind of client services, production co-ordinator type it's going to be impossible in my opinion.

 

Any really good director, or creative director wants to make the best product regardless of where the ideas come from, and knows they can take credit for hiring the right person to do the job just as easily as taking credit for the idea itself. Producers, client services, production co-ordinator have other conflicting priorities built into their job description if that's your contact good luck….

 

You need an agency that has the trust and willingness to go to bat for your ideas, and then in turn the client on that job has to have enough trust and faith in the agency to really buy in to the idea fully. So a whole heckuva alot more stars need to align to make it work.

Edited by anothername

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