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THE VENDOR-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IN THE REAL WORLD Q&A

(Originally posted at Motionographer)

vendor

The Vendor-Client Relationship in the Real World has had over half a million views and over 500 blog posts written about it since it was anonymously put on Youtubeabout two weeks ago. The company behind the film is actually Scofield Editorial, a full-service boutique editorial company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Motionographer had a chance to ask Brian Boak of Scofield Editorial a few questions:

What was the main inspiration for this film?

Our main inspiration for this project was our own real-world experiences. A lot of the dialogue emanated from real or paraphrased conversations with our clients over the years. Scofield Editorial has been in business since 1982, so we have a lot of context to pull from. This project was one of those, “wouldn’t it be funny if….” type projects.

 

Have you had any particularly shameless Clients ask you to lower your price, to take a line-item off a budget or to do work for free? You don’t have to name names, but we’d love to hear one of those stories.

Of course! Who hasn’t? But, in actuality, we are very lucky to have the clients we have. Because of our customer service and the talented artists we have here, we have many clients who have been working with us for a majority of the 27 years we have been in business. We will always work with a client, particularly if they approach us up-front with budgetary constraints. We would much rather tailor a production approach to a budget than the other way around. Price reductions or free/speculative work in itself isn’t bad business if done upfront. But, everyone wants to get full-value for their work and talents. If anything, this video shows that what occurs in B2B transactions seems so foreign on the consumer side of business.

Your business, Scofield Editorial, does editing and graphics work in Indianapolis. Do you expect any backlash from your own clients who may take this the wrong way or be offended by it?

It is possible, but we certainly hope that isn’t the case. The reactions we are seeing online indicate that almost everyone identifies with the “vendors” in this video. The fact of the matter is that everyone, across all businesses, is a client to someone and a vendor to someone. We understand that our clients are getting squeezed by their clients, be it an advertising agency working with a corporation or a Fortune 500 company answering to the needs of its consumers.

Our clients outside Indiana are constantly amazed at the quality and skill of the crews and production artists in the Indianapolis market. Great ideas can happen anywhere. Our thought is that if it increases exposure for the market as a whole, it is worth the risk of someone taking offense.

We didn’t do this video to create a debate around the vendor/client relationship, although we are happy that such a conversation has started. Rather, we wanted to highlight our story-telling services and Indianapolis as a creative destination.

What do you think of policies like this, from the AIGA? Do you think there’s any possibility in the commercial film-making / advertising business trying to stop the trends of Spec Work, Unpaid Pitches and ever-lowering budgets?

The short answer is no. There will always be a vendor who is willing to work for free or who will low-ball a project to get the work. And, shrinking budgets are just a product of where we are as an economy.

But, I don’t think Spec work is necessarily a bad thing. We take it on a case by case basis. If a new client comes to us asking for free work, we are likely to take a pass. On the other hand, we recently helped a long-standing client with an RFP and didn’t charge for our services because we have an understanding that, should they retain the account, we will continue to handle the post-production. Our goal is to establish long-term relationships with clients to help tell their story. Part of having a relationship like that is knowing that sometimes you have to give a little to win in the long-run.

Do you have plans to make more films along these lines? Is this a one-off or do you have more episodes planned?

We definitely are concepting and scripting some ideas as follow ups. However, for any future video to be viral it must be relatable and one that people can connect to. And, frankly, we hope that B2B and commercial opportunities present themselves because of the success of the video. We have a core competency in story-telling for a myriad of clients and applications. Typically, video applications for the internet have lower quality standards than broadcast. Our goal is to show you don’t have to sacrifice quality for creativity.

Thanks again for the entertaining an all-too-familiar sounding film. It’s been an eye-opener for a lot of Designers, and I think it’s very inspiring to see a creative approach to the problem. If there’s anything further you’d like us to know about the making of the film, please feel free to share it.

Well, we certainly enjoyed making this project. We are so pleased at how well it has been received. Here is a funny background story: the hairdresser scene was originally supposed to be an auto mechanic’s shop. We had to re-write the day before shoot because we couldn’t get a location. The idea was that someone who purchased a car sometime earlier from the dealer didn’t understand why they had to pay for service on the automobile later.

The scene was of course connected to clients not understanding that revisions come at a cost after project completion. Ultimately, the hair salon setup worked better as a story, so we are thankful it turned out that way.

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