Friday, December 01, 2006

Cough, splutter...

Wow, it’s been a while, eh?

Technically, I’ve been ill. I say technically because, though I’ve been coughing like a bull walrus with bronchial pneumonia after a good cigar, I’ve not felt remotely ill. Which probably explains why I’ve been generously handing around whatever version of the plague I’m going to manfully survive this time...

Anyway, while away, there’s been a slight resurgence of a type of work (graphic design for print - posters in this case) that I’d assumed had died a death for my little company. Partly this was due to not pursuing it as most of the clients we’d had were TV-company-related, and therefore unwilling to pay anything like what I know the work should cost. Therefore, as a type of work, it took up too much time, meant listening to clients who were demonstrably clueless with regard to formulating a brief or conveying said brief in human sentences to someone with an IQ larger than their shoe-size, entailed endless revisions as the clients always seemed to need to run it past everyone they’d ever met, and took time away from more productive work, even if that consisted of staring vacantly out of the window while working out the structure of an underlying story theme in an as-yet-unpublished-or-commissioned piece of fiction.

So, a friend of a friend (hereafter known as MD-Negative - for his refreshingly un-dictatorial manner as MD of a marketing company), working in the same market as the corporate filming we often do, rang and asked if we could take care of six posters for internal communications. After a short and refreshingly brief preamble, he suggested a daily rate that the end client was looking to pay. This was orders of magnitude higher than anything we’d be getting working for the knuckle-draggers in TV marketing, so I said yes.

With as much of a brief as MD-Negative could give us in the absence of a great deal of help from the end client, work got underway. Three days and six relatively pleasing (to me, anyway) poster designs later, the end client finally supplied us with the corporate branding manual we’d been after from day one. Ho hum, reworks ahoy!

What made these reworks far less painful than those encountered in the telly arena was the obviously respectful way in which our opinions were solicited about the overall designs, the sympathy over the lack of direction (which MD-Negative was experiencing just as much as us), and the fact that additional work was unequivocally going to be paid for, as it was through no fault of ours that we’d not been supplied with the correct information with a looming deadline.

I quote, without any smugness, an excerpt from an email received once the dust had all settled:
Can I just say again the stuff you are doing is excellent, and your flexibility and patience with all the changes is fantastic. So different to the creatives I am used to dealing with - an absolute pleasure!
Not bad, eh? Due to me not losing my rag over the end client’s infuriating inertia, we’ve not only kept them very happy with a handful of posters, we’re now filming with them next week and have ended up on their approved suppliers list. Huzzah!

One of the things that I used to berate an ex-guitarist for (bear with me, this does have a point) was not dabbling outside his musical comfort-zone. He played rock, and that was that. No funk, jazz, blues, classical or anything other than ‘chunky’ rock. Though his playing was good, there would be things in certain songs that he would just not get and would always sound laboured. If he’d nipped out into uncharted territory every once in a while, he might have been able to add other dimensions to his playing.

One of the great joys about writing with Good Dog is that our backgrounds are, in some areas, wildly different. In my opinion, this is a great thing, as there are always things in our histories that have an unexpectedly useful bearing on a script problem, plot point or character facet.

Yep, stepping back outside the current stream of work and “keeping your hand in” in a particular style of work pays off.

I bet that almost all of the writers out there unwittingly mine their ‘previous lives’ for material.

And why not? It’s better than watching Torchwood... ;-)


At 6:18 am, Blogger Caroline said...

Ah, that explains your prolonged absence. Glad to hear you are on the mend, but grateful you are a distance away and not spreading the plague hither and yon over here.

Well done. Isn't it amazing where work comes from when you are least expecting it? And when you can keep your wits about you and figure out what they want when they often don't know themselves?

Very nice indeed.

At 12:37 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Aye, it almost seems like I'm gaining a little maturity when it comes to dealing with clients.

Almost... ;-)

I'm usually very generous with my (undoubtedly life-threatening and extremely dangerous) plagues, so yes, it's probably best to STAY AWAY while I heroically fight for my life, etc. etc...


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