Mix together in a studio of your choice
– 1 talent (or more)
– 1 script (or more)
– 1 or more confused clients (preferably one)
– 1 pencil
– lots of water
This recipe changes every time. Depending on the project at hand and the clients involved, you’ll never know what you get. You can work with amazing clients who love everything you do, but at some point you will work with clients who are never satisfied and truly don’t have any idea of what they want! This is the case for ANY talent, whether you work in person or at home.
There is an art form to dealing with clients and many ad agencies and agents have mastered the art – somewhat. You can never truly master the art of dealing with clients, especially when they are hard to please. There will be many times that you come very close to booking – or even actually book the job, and because of an unsatisfied client, you will lose the opportunity. This could be due to something you’ve done, or a change of heart by the client, but it can also be for very petty reasoning – such as you sounding too close to someone they don’t like etc.
The point is you can’t take any of this personally and that is probably the most difficult part. We as actors truly want to please people. We want people to love what we do, but this isn’t always the case. It’s just the way it is. One thing I’ve witnessed as a producer/director and previous casting agent, is that production completely cater to the client no matter what they are like. In fact it’s painstaking to watch because I don’t believe in hierarchy however I understand that the bottom line is that the client is paying the bills, so therefore they are always right – even when they are wrong.
You have to handle clients YOUR WAY! If you are a strong personality and speak your mind, then you should, but be warned, clients are used to being catered to, and there are many talents who will be happy to take on the fussy client so they can work, so it will be very easy for the client to let you go and move on to the next performer. I try to be myself with everyone. I do my best to put everyone on a pedastal, including me. I always try to be fun, and personable and don’t believe I treat the client any different. I am a very solution oriented person, so if the client is unhappy, I recognize that it could be me, it could be them, or if could be just about anything, so all I can do is NOT beat myself up and let it defeat me, let them know when I don’t understand a direction, be honest, be positive and keep loving what I’m doing.
I have had a few sessions where I did not please the client and was let go. It happens. Every time I would see the produced project I would regret that I couldn’t please them, but I know I did the best that I could under their direction. Here is the thing, clients are really good at whatever they do, but that doesn’t make them good producers or directors or even decision makers. They are fussy because some of them have EVERYTHING on the line to make this perfect. Some even mortgage their house. I recognize that they have more at stake than I do, and so I need to put their needs first, not mine, but NOT at my own expense.
If you are being abused by a client, point out to them that you are doing your best and perhaps you’re not understanding, or perhaps you’re not the right talent for them. If you have to walk away, then walk away. There is another job around the corner. But if you get lost in the drama and get angry at them do everything in your power to not lose your professionalism. One of the best ways to deal with a client is through written word whenever possible, or have your agent deal with them. I can’t teach it to you in 500 words or less, but write it out in your anger, then re-write everything in I messages, so that you only take responsibility for your part in the process. You can’t change them, you can only control yourself and how you respond. You don’t need to kiss their ass, nor should you. You should be yourself, but show professionalism. Honor that they are paying your way, but maintain control of your business and how you’re perceived. There is a large roster of production and clients, but if you are noted to be a difficult talent, that will get around. Let it be the client who looks difficult not you. Besides if you start letting the client get to you, it will affect your performance.
Don’t let them see you sweat! Own your choices and have a great time – don’t let ANYONE get in your way of a good time!
Until next time
All my best
VO Chef Deb (aka Deb Munro)