Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"IT doesn't WORK!"

I have been through many circumstances where a client makes a suggestion which is counter to the creative in their own spot and directly in conflict with what you are trying to produce for them. You politely respond, "I don't think that will work" and if you are smart enough, you will be able to explain why. (If you want to play the "Ego Card" you laugh, tell them to "shut up", or just say "no"). Hopefully after your explanation the suggestion has been tucked away in the forever forgotten pile of crappy ideas. If not, you have opened the Pandora's Box of creative issues. Are you just not talented enough to make it work? Are you too stupid to understand who you are working for? Are you not creative enough to defend your position? Not good. You do not want to be defending your creative, it should be the only absolute in the room. You ARE the creative.

As a young animator/producer, I used to think you could make nearly anything work, that was my job in a sense, give the client what he/she wanted no matter how ridiculous it seemed at the time. I was a young "MAKE IT WORK" Tim Gunn wannabe. Sometimes to my surprise it was actually successful, the client was happy that I used their idea and made it pretty as a butterfly just for them. But invariably, I would not be satisfied one iota, I would see their suggestion as a large nail in my creative tire. I almost never put those jobs on a demo reel and surprisingly most of the times the client did not return for the next offering. Big HMMMM.

The problem is this, a bad creative idea is a bad creative idea and it is your job to make sure those ideas don't screw the pooch. How else can you prove your expertise? In my crankcase old age, I actually suggest the "Ego Card" tell them to back off, that you were hired for the creative not them. Do it in an entertaining way, if possible, nothing like laughing like an idiot while they stare confused. Most of the times they want the outlandish, the "wack job", it is what the corporate world expects of us. But beware, make sure it is a creative difference and not a business difference, the client has a right to portray their product and brand how they wish. Know the boundary and understand the risk.

Yes, you can lose jobs this way and you cannot overplay this hand or you will be known through out the industry as some pariah or worse, a prima donna. Maintain balance, understand that you do not own creative thought, but be in control of what you have been hired to do. And certainly understand that living the creative life is all about risk, in and out and all about.

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