Creativity v Business: Dawn of Justice
I recently wrote a blog about the state of the movie industry and how almost every decision in Hollywood is made based on money. After I wrote it, I started thinking about how that applies to video production companies like Element Studio. We don't make videos for ourselves (besides the occasional passion project). We make them for people who need these videos to make them money. And we do this so that we can make money and stay in business. Most of the time, this means creativity is not always the top priority. There's usually a conflict of creating the video we want vs. the video the client wants.
When I was younger, I looked at a future in video production with rose-colored glasses. I thought I would always be creatively fulfilled; that clients would give creative freedom. Turns out, that's not how it works. When it comes down to it, it's the client's video, so what they want, they get. Even if they want something that we think may hurt the video. If they're adamant, we have to do it. That means, sometimes, we have to make videos that we don't even like. It's tough, and it stings, but that's business.
At first, this really bothered me. I came in right out of college with high expectations. I was so used to having creative control over all of my personal projects and wedding videos I shot throughout college. I thought that would carry over, but with more expensive gear. Cute, right? Being the inexperienced child I was (I'm talking about it like it wasn't 2 years ago...), I let this affect my work. Once a client would come in with something that I thought would make the video worse, I kinda took the easy way out and did what they said, taking very few risks in my work. The result was often a very safe, unremarkable video.
I was looking at it all wrong. I should've just seen this as a new challenge. Trying to find a way to do everything I can to make the client happy, while also making the very best video possible. I should've been taking more risks. But I was afraid because this was my first job out of college that I moved halfway across the country for. DON'T SCREW IT UP.
Thankfully, once I settled into everything, this changed. Don't get me wrong, I still get frustrated sometimes with the compromises of creativity and business. But I've started to think about it differently.
I’m a mature adult now. I'm an adult now. I'm growing.
I've also been humbled a lot over time. I realize now that I don't have all of the answers. I don't always know what's best. There have been times when a client has given us full creative control, and the video didn't turn out exactly how they would've wanted. Collaboration is key. It's better that way. I was naive to think that I always know best.
Of course, there still are moments when you have to make sacrifices that you really don't want to. I know now, it's part of the job. Push back if you need to every once in a while, but if they've made up their mind, see it as a challenge. It's never a good idea to give up on making something great.
I get to do what I love, every day. Even when a project has some restrictions I may not like, I've started to enjoy the challenge. And you know, the client needs to get what they want, because they're paying for it and they know their business better than we do. We can give our opinions and advice on the best way to do things, but when it comes down to it, we have to give them what they want, at the highest possible quality. And when we do have a project where we have creative freedom, it's that much sweeter.
- Trevor Davis