The Vendor-Client Relationship in the Real World Q&A

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 Youtube about 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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6 Comments

robwienk

“We didn’t do this video to create a debate around the vendor/client relationship, …”

I find that disappointing. The whole article seems very ‘politicly correct’, towards clients. I actually did/do hope that they wanted to start a debate, maybe the success of their viral video has scared them. In that case, let’s hope the above quote is merely a little white lie…

Justin Cone

I’m with you. While I’m glad they created the video, Scofield’s response to their project’s popularity feels a bit like punching the bully in the face and then apologizing when his nose starts to bleed.

Let it bleed, I say! Let it bleed! :-)

Bran Dougherty-Johnson

It’s a great film still, but these responses feel a bit watered-down by PR-speak. I do hope they get lots of new work from the film, but it would’ve been nice to hear a bit more about the actual film-making … less about their “capabilities.”
Ah well.

atfaurote

Then ask about the film-making. None of those questions were really geared towards behind the scenes stories. The one question that opened that door at all was answered with a story.

As an employee of Scofield I can say there were not a lot of amusing anecdotes, but if you wanted to know what it was shot on or how we lit it or whatever, none of the questions pushed in that direction.

As for the PR: of course. We aren’t going to take this attention to piss on our clients. At the end of the day, everyone deals with this crap. We were just the ones that decided to satirize it. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate our clients helping us get where we are today.

Bran Dougherty-Johnson

Hi Atfaurote:
I didn’t really mean the film-making process in terms of what cameras you used or how it was lit at all. I meant the reason and motivation for making the film itself. I’ll take you at your word that it is satire, and I do think, like Rod’s comment below says, that the film speaks for itself.

But, as a Motion Graphic Designer and Animator myself, dealing with some of my own clients who want work for free or to ask me to reduce my price on a regular basis, I’m also frustrated. And honestly, I was hoping for you guys to champion the idea that creative work is also labor, and that it should be paid for fairly, not discounted because it can also be fun and / or interesting. If that wasn’t your intent at all, my mistake, just wishful thinking on my part.

But I think for a lot of designers and animators that I know, it would be hugely satisfying to see both a creative response to that problem as well as a little explicit talk that addresses it. And I don’t think that means pissing on your clients. I just think it involves transparency and open-ness.

I didn’t mean to swide-swipe you by commenting here after the Q&A was done, so I apologize for that.

A longer response of mine to your film and related issues is here:
http://www.motiongraphicdesigners.org/?p=22

Rod

They may have tried to play it safe in this interview, but the fact remains that they made this video and I think it speaks for itself.

Comments are closed.