Spam folders can be revealing. I just opened one and found all the promotional e-mails I would have normally received from Apple, Avid, Adobe and Sony from my previous life as a video producer. I thought to myself, “Oof, I’m glad that’s over.” What a crazy way to make a living. Corporate video production is not for the faint of heart, it’s full of unreal expectations, spotty planning and insane deadlines.
You learn to deal with people who have no real-world experience in this art form. And it is an art form, make no mistake. They don’t teach video psychology in business school. Pleasing an audience is a bumpy road.
But they’re calling the shots. All of them. Way too many chiefs. I used to sit up on the phone into the wee hours with some kid who was trying to impress his boss with a video technique he saw in the Matrix. He could hardly explain it, but you had to deliver it. You learn to endure the word “like” ad nauseam.
At the outset, no one really has a plan. It always starts with a “wouldn’t it be cool?” and sort of unravels from there. The nail-biting, the misunderstandings the sometimes name-calling and blame-affixing follow suit. I once did 19 takes of a marketing rep flinging herself onto a couch in slow motion. Cool…
The tension those days, had me pumping Maalox. I don’t miss it. I developed a late-night phone phobia that is still with me.
Coaxing credibility out of a harried executive is an art form. You form a symbiotic relationship that doesn’t leave the room. I found that experience to be one of the more interesting aspects of the job. I had to say some things that weren’t always welcome by an ego-in-chief. Awkward.
If he does an on-camera belly flop, you know where the blame will go. If you can’t direct, you shouldn’t be in the room. You need the emperor to keep his clothes on.
Over the years, you build up an arsenal of fixes, techniques, approaches and doomsday scenarios that will keep you out of the flames and potentially get you paid on time. You’ll get the soup, if you don’t go nuts.
In the end, I have to say, nothing gives you more of a keen awareness of end-user experience like video production. Especially when it involves sharing knowledge with jaded, distracted and indifferent audiences.
What HR, Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing and Business Development think is a revelation, is nothing but a cure for insomnia to their intended audience. But you are the delivery method. Lipstick + pig = end product.
As in any discipline, business model, or modality, it’s always the end user. You have to anticipate, psyche up and deliver. You have to put yourself in the audience’s shoes to satisfy the greater good. That’s where the focus should always be.
If you have to ask “was it good for you?” … it wasn’t. Being a video producer allowed me to forge undying relationships with a lot of great people. It’s something I’ll always keep with me but….. cut!