09 December 2012

So Wrong, and Yet...So Wrong

Every job starts with a negotiation. The client, or a UPM/line producer/coordinator working on said client’s behalf contacts you about a gig. After establishing availability and other sundries, you get to the rate. Most of the time, the rate will be equitable. Occasionally, it’s laughable, as in a donkey-snort, pee-spotting kind of laugh. You don’t laugh, of course, because you’re an adult and momma taught you better. The person on the other end, in an attempt to convey sympathy, shrugs through the phone (no mean feat) and says that their budget is limited.

This, dear readers, is incorrect. Their budget is wrong.



Damn. I also forgot the "Just For Men" expendable line item.

Were you to try to buy a house, and said to your realtor, “I need a four bedroom house, and I need it for $5000,” they wouldn’t tell you your budget was low. They’d tell you your budget was flat out wrong, and then ask you to not let the door smack you in the rear on your way out. As well they should; clearly you went about things backwards, coming up with an unrealistic figure and then expecting vendors to meet it, rather than doing research to find an average market price and then budgeting appropriately. This was demonstrated rather well in the video clip below (yes, it's not new, but it's done so well it's timeless):





While it’s quite tempting to be smug (at least for me, because I’m a jerk) and trot out this riposte the next time I get one of these calls, it’s immature and less than professional (my criteria: the more tempted I am to high-five myself, the more I shouldn’t say what I’m thinking). 



If this, then nope.

This rantlette is intended more for those on the other end of the phone: the producers and UPMs and anyone else who actually put together budgets. Of course we all know you have an obligation to satisfy the client’s need to save money, but that should be balanced with a realistic view of actual costs, not wishlist rates. If, in the blind pursuit of cost savings, you start with an arbitrarily low figure, you won’t end up with a limited budget; you’ll just end up wrong.
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