David Perry recommends the following for agencies and their production partners.
"If I see it on the air, does that mean I'm not getting the job?" - Frank Stiefel
Standard reply: "Yes, I'm really sorry, I should have called. But the minute we booked we had to leave for L.A., and you know how it is." Yes, we do know how it is, but it doesn't have to be. And, as an agency producer I know that simple courtesies to the people I work with, like telling them they didn't get the job, is the right way to operate, and will be reciprocated. So in that spirit, I would like to offer the following courtesies, and suggest something in return.
To production companies: I resolve to tell you how much money I've got and whom you are bidding against, if you take me at my word and don't come back with a bid for 50 percent more. If the director isn't interested, you can tell me. Don't say he isn't available. I can handle the truth. I promise to be fair on overages, if you promise to reconcile the job before coming after me for them. I'll tell my group they're not all getting makeovers from the hair stylist if you tell the wardrobe attendant that I don't want to see any $90 black Armani T-shirts in the director's size on the wardrobe rack. If craft service spends most of the time blending exotic coolers exclusively for the director, I'm fine with that, as long as they keep us in Diet Cokes and spring water. And if you sneak a PA into the craft service job, I assume you are rebating me the savings.
To the creative team: I resolve to get the best director we can afford, if you promise not to argue with me when I tell you that Joe won't be interested.
To the client: I resolve to treat your money like it's mine, if you believe me when I tell you we need a little bit more.
To the account team: I resolve to understand that you have a difficult client, if you promise not to tell me everything he says. And if you want Lakers tickets to entertain him, they're not in the budget.
To the cost consultant: I'll hear all your criticisms of the bid, if you promise not to send a letter to the client bragging how much money you took out.
To the editor: I'll control my team and give you breathing room if you won't drop us after the first rough cut for a really cool music video and ask us to finish up with your assistant. I'll let you do the finishing in your new online room if you don't double-dip and charge me a 35 percent markup.
To the music house: I'll try not to lock you into a needle drop for which everyone has developed demo love. If I ask you to knock something off, I won't play innocent when the lawyers call. And I promise not to demo you to death and then go out and buy a pop tune. In return, I ask you not to load up the AFM contract with arrangers, orchestrators and copyists as if it's a 30-man session when it's just a couple of synth players and a programmer. And if we have singers, let's use professionals, not the receptionist and two people with the same last name as yours.
And to the director: I resolve to give you 10 takes before coming over to talk, if you will pay attention when I come over. I'll consider all your ideas if you'll agree not to shoot them first, and then, at about 3:30, when we're losing the sun, start shooting the stuff we promised the client. I'll give you a director's cut and let you use it for your reel, if you'll understand that the stakes are higher for us than for you, and that in the end, it is our commercial. And I promise to keep the client away from the camera. And, finally, I resolve to assure the client that $20,000 a day is a fair price for someone of your talent, if you promise not to have a PA drive you to the set in the Testarossa that your company bought you when they caught you having dinner with David Zander.
Best in 2003!
David Perry is director of broadcast production at Saatchi & Saatchi/New York.