You can only get two out of that equation, no matter how hard you try. You may have your production good and fast, but it won’t be cheap! You may have it cheap and fast but it won’t be good. I can produce good and cheap, but it won’t be fast.
CAPTION: Cheap & Fast / Construction 21st Century copyright 2009 John Magyar Photography (johnmagyar.com)
I’ve prompted many clients over the years through this simple exercise in arithmetic. I’m pretty convincing most of the time. Where I fall short is when I have a client who represents a cause that I believe in and I want to give them all three. But in the end, something must give. So, what do you do when all three are requested? My suggestions:
- NEVER COMPROMISE ON GOOD: ”Good” is your reputation. You may have a client tell other potential clients that you were fast, and perhaps that you were inexpensive, but the one quality that keeps them coming back time after time is “good”. In the end, that’s what I want to be known for any day of the week.
- SAVE UP YOUR FAVORS FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS: I go throughout my year hiring freelancers and other vendors, animators and equipment rental houses, without asking the price of the rental, because I have the budget to back up the costs. Then, when I have a project that requires good, fast and cheap, I call in favors. If you can normally rent a camera package on a 4-for-7 (you pay 4 days for 7 consecutive days of use) this is the time to ask for a 3-for-7, or if you are a very good negotiator, a 2-for-7.
- CONSIDER BOTH ENDS OF THE TALENT POOL: This is a good time to think about mentoring young talent. I always have someone under my wing I am teaching, encouraging, and otherwise preparing to kick out of the nest when it’s time for them to make it on their own. A lower budget means I have the opportunity to give someone who’s been with me a while an opportunity they may not otherwise have at this point in their career. The flip side is that when you must deliver a product quickly, perhaps this is the time to pay top dollar (or Euro for my European friends) so you ensure your quick delivery hits its mark. After all, time is money. Maybe you sacrifice some profit but you will end up the hero in the end.
- BEG FOR MORE TIME: Most of my clients recognize that, if they are asking for me to deliver quality beyond their budget limitations, something must give. (The clients who have been with me a while are fully aware that “good” is not an option for me) So, I can usually beg more time out of them for delivery. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
- WRITE A TREATMENT THAT IS SIMPLER TO EXECUTE WITHOUT SACRIFICING ON QUALITY: If the concept dictates an Australian theme, don’t feel as if you must travel to Australia and spread your budget so thin that you are not able to deliver excellence on actors, lighting and audio situations that are substandard, when you can create stellar pictures and deliver on the concept quite efficiently from a studio.
- STAY AWAY FROM THE PROJECTS THAT ONLY REQUIRE FAST AND CHEAP: I have been practicing my craft for a long time. One thing I can assure you without exception is that if a client asks you to give them fast and cheap, that quality does not matter, it will when you deliver. Also, on the day they do have an appropriate budget for another production, you will not be their first call. They will go to the production company who consistently delivers “good” production. Trust me on this one!