Don’t shoot yourself in the foot

Here’s something you already know: the world is working remotely.  For video production, it has forced us into the position of teaching our clients to literally do what we do.  This is an incredibly valuable skill to have but it begs a broader question:  if we teach our clients how to do what we do, will they still need us when restrictions ease?

One of our clients introduced a new CEO to the world shortly after COVID hit.  He was, of course, in lockdown so we sent over some lights, carried out a virtually recce of his home, and trained the CEO to be his own filmmaker.  That’s what we’re doing now.  Turning CEOs into cameramen.  iPads into virtual directors.  Unwitting family members into grips and gaffers.

As this happens more and more often, teams and executives are learning to tell stories by themselves.  It seems inevitable that it will all become second nature.  They will sit down in front of their computer with lighting we designed and a background we curated, speak to the world, and have it “just work.”

Is that bad?  I don’t think so.  Our clients are fully capable of getting a clear, confident, and understandable message to the world, but when they need to get creative, to push boundaries with a deadline around the corner, they’ll need much more than this new status quo.

There’s a lot of value in explaining to clients exactly what we do.  Why should we use big expensive cameras?  What exactly does each person on set really do?  Do we need make-up?  My first approach is usually to propose things as a risk / reward exercise.  Sure, we can cut cameras here, cut crew there, shoot just one take.  But as each layer goes, so does our recourse should anything fail, and clients understand the value of safety.  However, safety only gets you so far.

Our ingenuity.  The creativity we use to craft the message.  Our assembly of a finished product.  And throughout, our guiding hand.  Safety is table stakes.  Top tier advice is where the value is.

That’s where our experience comes in to play.  Whatever your question, we’ve already thought of the answer.  Probably a few hundred times over.  We give the best parts of ourselves so that when we put them together you get hard bought agency style emergent phenomena.  That’s not something we will ever be able to teach.

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