One of the key aspects of our working process is the development of the brief, or proposal document. In my opinion, a good brief is not simply a document which is handed down from ‘on high’ and adhered to slavishly by the creative team actually working on it. If you have a good relationship with a client, then the brief/proposal document becomes a collaborative challenge, something which is honed and shaped by both parties in light of their specific knowledge and experience. Giving both client and provider the trust and freedom to work on the genesis of a project means there is the best chance of developing creative responses which actually work, instead of falling into nightmare scenarios of lapsed deadlines, blown budgets or, worst of all – bad ideas.

Before even picking up cameras, everyone involved needs to know exactly what is being created, for whom, how, when and for how much. Even at the highest level, projects can be derailed because of a lack of care taken at the very outset.

To best aid a smooth production with excellent results, we stick to the following process:

1) We have a meeting. This is where we learn the specific challenge the client is facing. Rather than them saying ‘We need a three minute video with this person saying these things while doing this thing…’ we prefer to hear about the original problem. What are we actually trying to fix? Examples of a compelling original problem could be ‘Not enough students are using the University counselling service, we need to grab their attention and make them feel it’s ok to visit us’; or ‘Everyone sees our wine as just another Barossa red. If only they knew the stories behind the brand’. That way, we can work with the client to develop a creative response which is bespoke to them, something which truly addresses their needs. That isn’t to say that clients don’t know what they want, it’s just to acknowledge that returning to the original problem is always a great way to begin a creative process. Discussing it, scrutinizing it, and asking the questions that sometimes a client is too close to an issue to see has repeatedly been proven to lead to great results.

2) Sometimes a client may have already worked up a detailed brief, sometimes they may have only come to us with the vaguest idea of what they need. Either scenario is fine, and either results in the same next step: we write a proposal. This is a document which outlines the overall objectives, the concept at the heart of our creative response, the deliverables, the step by step process required to execute and deliver the work (including client responsibilities and third party providers if necessary) all timeframes and costs. It’s a detailed document which takes time to put together. But it is essential to be specific, thorough and clear. Seeing a summary document like this early on in the process means the client has a chance to reflect on the true creative intent of the project as well as assess budgets, timeframes and all of the other practical considerations.

To us, the client experience is every bit as important as the final product. We know we’re not the only production company around who start projects with a meeting, followed by writing a proposal. But we like to think the habits, techniques and processes we have spent years developing within these stages to an extent set us apart. It also helps us identify clients for whom we are not a good fit. After all, we can’t do every job and neither do we want to.

At the heart of this process is a passion for good communication and respect for our clients. We know some clients have to ‘ring around for quotes’. But we are more than just a number on a page, and so our proposal documents aim to offer far more than just that. By demonstrating that we truly understand the challenge, have original ideas for how to respond and have a solid understanding of the practical necessities involved, we start our projects as we mean to go on.

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