5 Things Your Production Company Would Like You to Know

Some insights in pursuit of more win-wins

We recently lost a job that was well within our wheelhouse. As the executive producer, I'm the one who usually gets the bad news firsthand. This time the call came from an agency producer we'd worked with before. Because I was convinced we were the right shop for the job—and because I felt comfortable enough with the producer—I prodded for more information. 

Where did we go wrong? This thing seemed like it was ours to lose. What happened? 

The producer was forthcoming. He said our treatment didn't resonate with the creative team. That always sucks to hear, but the next part was something new. The producer offered to come into our studio and constructively critique the treatment we had submitted. 


I can only assume he saw this as a win-win: If he could help us be better, we would ultimately be in a position to help him—and his agency—do better. And what's better than that? 

We could all use more win-wins. A win is great, but a win-win is something else entirely. It's getting the client, selling through the best idea, showing the ROI and winning the awards … all to beget more and more of the same. 

These are some crazy, mixed-up times. The work needs to be fast and great and faster and greater and cheaper … and there needs to be more of it. 

We've learned to embrace the nuttiness. Because we love collaborating with brands and agencies to make stuff that looks like it should've cost way more and taken way more time. 

We think this collaboration is the key to achieving more win-wins. We want more. And we're pretty sure you do, too. So here's some insight from us to you. All of which will hopefully lead to more win-wins and better work for all of us. 

Tell us the budget.

We're going to ask this question at the end of every call or meeting. You're not always going to know the answer. We get that. When you can show us your cards, though, it is amazingly helpful. Budgets these days range wildly from client to client—even between competitors within the same industries. And there are a lot of different ways to produce the same concept. Knowing the budget right from the get-go will allow us to get to work faster. And it will allow us to figure out the best way to stretch the dollars. We want to stretch the dollars—so we can set expectations and then exceed them. 

Tell us how much time we have.

We're going to ask this one every time, too. Just lay it on us. Whether it's a week or six months, we'll be able to quickly tell you if you're batshit crazy. We (probably) won't use those words, but we will be forthcoming. If it seems like the timing is unrealistic, it probably is. But everything inside of us is going to want to say yes. So let's work together to figure it out. 

Tell us the actual delivery date.

This one kind of goes hand in hand with No. 2, but it's more related to post-production. When we near the end and you tell us, "We actually have a couple more weeks," it always catches us a bit off guard. As in, "Wait, what, seriously?" Don't misunderstand, more time is always preferable (see above), but in a perfect world we know ahead of time and map out our schedule accordingly.

We've got some ideas, but we don't want to hijack your idea. 

When time and budget are tight, we like to propose alternative approaches. Please don't be offended if we bastardize your original idea. We're just looking for ways to continue the conversation and make something great that delivers on the strategy. 

Consider us a resource. 

Have something half-baked and not really sure if it's going to be produce-able, affordable or doable in the amount of time you have? Don't be afraid to reach out. We love creative challenges and will always take the call to talk it through and test it out. If you can show us the research and tell us the strategy, even better. 

Ok, your turn. How can we help you achieve more win-wins? 

Florian Klauer

Profile picture for user CJ Lampman
CJ Lampman
CJ Lampman is executive producer and principal at p3 in Portland, Maine.

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