Unless you’re making videos for fun or just yourself, we all have the same--sometimes annoying--problem: our videos have to satisfy somebody else’s desires. From the moment we’re hired to work on a project we’re exchanging dollars for making somebody else happy. And for the most part, this is a good thing! After all it’s how we stay in business.
But what happens when what a client wants conflicts with good video production or storytelling? What do we do when what they're asking for doesn’t match up with what their audience needs? And especially what do we do when we’re hired just to “push buttons” and are being told how to do our jobs?
Read on to discover three tips how I handle these challenges in editing videos for my client's needs.
Tip One: The Audience's Eyeballs are Most Important
Your client maybe the one footing the bill for the video being made. But it’s worth nothing if that person’s audience doesn’t watch and respond to the video. Your role, especially as an editor, is to help your client produce a product that demands to be watched. Each audience has different needs and desires when they watch a particular video.
In your initial dialogue with your client, try to discover two things:
- What is the point of the video as your client sees it and,
- What does their audience value seeing from the video?
Let me illustrate. I recently had a client who asked me to cut rough selects of a group of interviews. The project as far as he was concerned was to simply help him out of a tsunami of project deadlines and just get the rough work out of the way for him. But his audience was the board of a major non-profit and the finished videos were for them to see the benefit of their work in the community. Knowing the videos ultimately had to convince the board of the impact of their efforts guided my cuts of the rough edits. It helped me know exactly which elements to cut together and which to leave out.
Tip Two: Give Them the “Thing” and You’re Golden
Every producer has something they want to see in every video. It could be a turn of phrase, a particular type of shot, a style element...the sooner you figure this out and deliver it to them, the happier they will be. But how to figure this out without needing to go round and round with video edits and different versions?
Ask questions before you start the project. LOTS of questions. Ask about music, ask about color, ask about feeling and emotions, ask about desired reactions, ask about style. Each of these elements play a role in the finished whole. The more you know before you begin, the easier it is to deliver the first time, on time and on target.
Tip Three: What to Do When Their Idea Is No Good
It happens. Your client has come to you and they have this plan mapped out of how their video should play out. And it complete crap. No story, bad shots, endless talking heads, bad music selections...what do you do?
If you’ve already contracted with the client before finding this out, you have two options: one is to do the work as requested, the other is try to guide your client into a different set of choices. (Or you could quit the project all together, but that doesn't always leave a good client relationship intact.)
If you opt for the latter option, how you handle this is critical. You never want to flat out say their idea is “crap” and insult them. Their creative people too, and bruise just as easily as you. Instead, remember their audience and what is best for them. Let everything be, “Well, we can do it that way if you like, but here is what you risk by putting it together that way.”
Ultimately, your client is paying you for the work, but they’re also paying for your expertise. Leveraging what you know on behalf of their paying audience and keeping their critical eyeballs watching helps negotiate away from a bad idea. Every so often, you’ll have a stubborn client who sticks to their guns. I say, do the work, get paid, and then don’t work with them again. But while you are the clock, keep your relationship cordial.
In conclusion, the most critical thing you need to know to consistently deliver knock-out videos is understanding your client’s desires and transforming them into what they need to deliver to their audience. Because ultimately, the audience is the one who will watch, share, and buy whatever the video is selling.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Bastarache Bogan is a video editor in Denver, Colorado. Her company, Renegade Digital Post, provides Hollywood-caliber video editing services to filmmakers and content producers outside of Hollywood and beyond.