The longer I direct films and videos, the more I see that one factor, above all, helps make or break a project. It’s not the camera (although that matters), It’s not necessarily even the actors or director you hire (although those certainly matter, too). It is story.
If a project has a crappy story, it will fail- no matter how much money you have, no matter how much star power you throw at it, and certainly no matter which state-of-the-art camera you use.
And it’s my job to at least do everything I can to help my clients tell their stories.
It still surprises me when a potential client tells me they don’t want our input on the story they’re telling. I deal with story everyday. It is my lingua franca (that means it’s my trade language, I love Wikipedia).
My job is to learn everything I can about a client and their business, and it’s my job to then take their story and do what’s possible to make it a great story- one that appeals to their audience and incites them to action.
Sometimes a client comes to us with an idea almost-fully realized, and just needs a bit of input. That’s fine. Often, we write the whole thing. That’s fine, too.
But I hate it when a possible client believes they have everything nailed down, and won’t take my input at all. That’s the potential client who will freak out during production or editing, when it’s usually far too late to change direction.
I don’t have time for that silliness.
And so, today… finally… I am drawing a line in the sand. My job is to be your director. And my company’s job is to be your video production company. If a potential client approaches us from now on, and does not want us to help them make their project fantastic- including getting our input on their concept and script to some degree- I will not work with them.
Patrick is the founder of Los Angeles and New York City based PatrickOrtman, Inc., a creative video agency that has won a ton of ADDY and Telly awards, worked with 9 Fortune 500s (and tons of startups), and been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Toronto Star, USA Today, and many other print and online publications in the advertising and other industries.