Client & Director: The Two Amigos – Part IIII | Spin Creative
Client & Director: The Two Amigos – Part IIII
Dec 2012 21

This is the last of our four-part discussion on the importance of the client/director relationship (read part I, part II and part III). So far we have discussed how crucial this partnership is to the success of a video project and the importance of pre-shoot coordination and preparation.

This installment will discuss specifically how the process should work on the day of the shoot. The client and director each play a vital role and the etiquette of the shoot plays a large part in making the final product a success.

Let’s specifically discuss the “game day” responsibilities of both amigos.

Trust the director (part three). As we discussed earlier, there can only be one person in charge during a successful shoot and that is the director. More than anyone else, this is the person who knows what needs to be accomplished each day of shooting and knows how to get it done. The director must establish rapport with the client, the crew and the performers. The director must also consider how the day’s footage will fit with the rest of the program and is mentally editing the show while directing. Trust the director. All other participants (including the client) are present to support the needs of the director.

• Time is money. This is a cliché yet so true. If you want your program to come in on budget you must allow the director and crew to run the shoot. It is very important that the director gets everyone into a production groove. The day is choreographed to meet the budget. The shoot day is not the time to question the creative treatment or to rewrite the script. Although the project belongs to the client, it is time for the director to implement the plan. That can’t happen with a backseat director.

• Let us help you. During the production meeting, there should be a specific discussion about client feedback on the day of the shoot and when it should occur. Getting this right is key to an efficient shoot that produces desired results. Here is how it should work.

• Step one – establishing the frame. For each shot, the director will work with the Director of Photography to establish a frame for the shot. The client will sign off on the framing and then the Director of Photography will work with his team to set and adjust the lighting.

• Step two – the shoot. The director will lead the talent and crew through a series of takes which will meet the requirements laid out in the script. If there is time, the director may also try some variations. It’s very important that the client listens to the talent, watches the monitor carefully to make sure the content is accurate and collects notes to share with the director at the appropriate time. It’s even more important that the client does not interrupt the shoot. Once the momentum is disrupted it can be very difficult to get back on track. Create space for the director to coax the maxim creative result from the talent and crew.

• Step three – giving feedback. During the production meeting, the producer and director will have explained the process for client input. After the series of takes has been completed, it is the responsibility of the director to signal the client and the producer that production has been paused and comments are welcome. This way, the feedback is given all at once without interrupting the production process. To do otherwise is inefficient and can possibly alter the schedule.

For the sake of efficiency, it’s important the client speak with one voice. If there are a number of clients and/or agency team members present, it’s a good idea to reach some consensus before talking to the director. It’s counterproductive to have a conversation on set that should have happened during the production meeting.

When roles are clearly defined and understood, it becomes easier to establish trust between the client and director. A positive feeling of collaboration will encourage creativity during the crucial preproduction phase. A logical feedback loop during the shoot will establish an efficient rhythm to keep production on schedule and morale high. The culmination of all these positive elements will be a high-quality, effective product that meets the established goals and objectives.

This is the last installment of our four-part Two Amigos blog. If you would like to work with one the the best video production companies on the west coast, shoot us an email at or call 206.686.1090. Our production offices and edit suites are in Seattle but we travel all over the world for our clients.