When the video brief goes bad

The importance of a good video brief

Sometimes a video brief is created in a silo where a lack of relevant knowledge and/or consultation can be damaging. Expectations can be set incorrectly within the business and for the video provider. The impossible can be pre-sold. The brief can be dramatically misaligned with the budget. Stakeholders can be omitted at various stages, leading to specification changes, shoot postponements or cancellations. Failure to recce a location, seek required permissions, or keep appropriate persons in the loop can lead to disappointments. Government by committee can risk pleasing all and pleasing nobody. Here are a few examples of it not being "alright on the night";
  • During a launch event, one of the shots on the checklist was a shot of the policeman on guard. There wasn't one.
  • A key piece of b-roll was specified as 'sunlight glinting off the solar panels'. No, it's not what you're thinking - it wasn't raining. But the sun was in completely the wrong position. If I'd had a handy helicopter I probably could have found the perfect angle.
  • The brief since Day 1 was 5 different shots in the kitchen. I even did location scouting to source the right kitchen. The shoot date did slip, and the script changed, but the location was fixed. Five minutes after arriving at the shoot I was asked whether we should set up the lounge shot first.
  • The product was being launched at the Tower of London and the brief included following and shooting a walking tour by a Beefeater. Not unsurprisingly, filming on Crown property requires advance permission, which had not been sought.
  • Our pitch was to homage a classic viral video, using a revised script tailored to the client's business. Using my huge experience of business and creative writing, I duly produced a script and even shot a test with the actor. Everybody at the client loved it except for the CEO who rewrote the script so it was clunkier and less funny. That was the script we shot, and the reason the video was never publicly released.
  • The client wanted to shoot against a white background for a clean look. That obviously gave us location flexibility as we have a portable white screen. The date was duly set. Then with a week to go the client saw a competitor's video shot against a white screen and decided it looked too sterile, so wanted a regular location shoot, needing us to come up with a suitable solution.
  • "I definitely want you for this event at the NEC. Can you please book out the date." So I turn up to find that the client isn't coming; "I never confirmed it with you".
  ...but most of the time things go without a hitch!