Can Pro Creatives Stay True to Their Vision?

An hilarious movie about what happens when a filmmaker doesn’t stick with his vision. A MUST for anyone who wants to work in Hollywood.

Today’s post is more of an epilogue to yesterday’s post about Gary Ross and The Hunger Games.  I typically end my blog posts with some poignant question for you to ponder. But yesterday’s blog-post-ending question (“Are you staying true to your vision?”) begs another question: “Can you stay true to your vision if someone else is paying you to communicate their vision?”

Most of you reading this are professional filmmakers/videographers or photographers, hired by clients to communicate their vision, or tell their story. In cases like that, you may be in a quandary. How do you stay true to your vision as an artist, while at the same time, giving the client what they want? What if they want to use music that goes against your artistic sensibilities? What if they insist on adding edits that make the video lame? What if they want you to add a bunch of Photoshop filters to a photo you envision to be clean and simple? Since they are the client, don’t you have to comply? Is the customer always right?

Those are great questions. Here three things to keep in mind regarding this issue:

  • Show What You Want to Sell. You should only be showing on your portfolio the kind of projects you want to sell. The clients who hire you should be hiring you largely because of the kind of work you do. If that’s the case, then you will reduce the chance of them requesting artistic decisions that go against your artistic sensibilities. This is the #1 way you as a professional creative can create work that you’re proud of, and the client loves.
  • Be Confident. You have to show confidence in all you do. Studies have shown that confidence is a key contributor to being able to get a job in the first place. But once you have the job, confidence will go a long way to getting what you want when negotiating artistic decisions with your clients. Can you show, from past experiences, how decisions you made worked?Do you have testimonies from past clients you can share? Can you confidently and eloquently explain why a particular decision you want is the best course of action?
  • Director’s Cuts. There will be times when you and the client will compromise on projects. You may still be proud of the work you did, and even proud to show it, but it may not be your ideal. In situations like that, you may want to include on your portfolio or Vimeo channel a director’s cut. Show YOUR vision of the project, as you intended it. Then let the client show on their website the actual completed version. (Make sure your contracts give you the right to make and show director’s cuts.)

Bottom line it is still the client’s money. No matter how confident and convincing you are, they may still override you and tell you to add those cheesy Photoshop actions, or the crappy music. If you’ve done all you can reasonably do, you just may have to capitulate. Do it with a great attitude, make it as best as you can, smile, then just don’t show it to anyone.

How do you deal with artistic differences between you and your clients?

4 thoughts on “Can Pro Creatives Stay True to Their Vision?

  1. Helpful, article as I begin to consider these questions as a beginning screenwriter. Though a little different, I can envision a situation (as may often be the case) where there will need to be possible revisions to a script or story. Will I accept these? What changes will I accept- I think of the script for Prometheus.

  2. Hey Ron, great post. One of the questions I always ask the client when creating a corporate video is “who is their client”? In other words, who are they trying to reach and who do they want to see the video. I might produce a video that you or I might think is great, but their client wouldn’t even appreciate the “creative aspect” or the “technical difficulty”, all they want to do is communicate with their client, the way their client see’s the world. Usually when I fully understand their situation I can deliver what they want, even if it’s not totally what I would do. Excellent point about Directors Cuts…that way you can still show what is important to you and the client gets what they want. At the end of the day, it is their show.

    Finally, I have received a lot of nice compliments on my TESTIMONIALS page as well, because clients have seen my flexibility in working with them. As a result I get renewal business, which is key for me.

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