Working to a Brief: Unit 5 – Outcome 4


In all of the discussed projects there were positive elements and negative elements. It’s important to review both of these once a project is finished so that you don’t make the same mistakes again; to give yourself credit for skills that aided in the success of a project. This document serves the purpose of evaluating key skills when it comes to interpreting a brief.

The ‘5 Years On’ project was an over all success, however there were certain issues with ownership once the film was finished. Our client failed to credit the crew that made the film possible and took the director’s title, despite the fact that she had little input to the workings of the film. Due to the leadership skills that our producer has we shot and edited the film professionally and within the time bracket. It was important to keep to our schedule, which revolved around two days of shooting and a week to edit the footage afterwards. In hindsight we should have created more paperwork to safeguard the credits and ownership, I aim to keep this sort of thing in mind for future productions. We hit the brief regarding the content, as the film was centred on the progress that Cockermouth has made since the flood. The feedback that we received from the screenings was extremely positive, coming from the audience, which was the local community.

The most challenging film that I’ve worked on would be ‘The Lake’, as it is very close to home when considering the ethic difficulty of the subject. When making a film about euthanasia you have to be incredibly sensitive with the content to avoid offending people. As the cinematographer it was my job to make the film look the part, it was important that it didn’t look like a student film because it wouldn’t do the subject justice. I think we captured the emotion well, it had a great response at it’s screenings and from peers. Something that hindered the film was the fact that it took so long to produce a final edit. Timescales were a major fault in this project, which let down the over all production but didn’t affect the result too much.

Last year we had a chance to work with a painter that’s based in Arnside called Tracy Levine. We had a reasonably informal brief to produce a short documentary piece for her exhibition which took place at Rheged, a local gallery.  Because the project had to be completed by a certain date, it was important that we kept our communication up. The group were keeping in touch with Tracy daily through email, because it’s important that a client knows exactly what stage the project is at. This re-enforces trust between you and your client and eliminates doubts and suspicions. Something that’s strongly linked to communication skills is revisions – where a client may want a different version of the film cut that will better suit their needs. When we took the initial cut to Tracy she was very happy with it, but there were certain parts that she wanted to change. If a client is suggesting something impossible or extremely unbeneficial then it’s important to put your foot in the door and politely explain why they shouldn’t pursue that idea. As a professional you have the right to trust your experience when judging situations. Tracy made perfectly sensible suggestions and we reviewed the edit, and the final edit made her cry, in a good way.

There are a lot of briefs that will come with some legal and regulatory issues. I experienced this when we were told to make an advert for a chocolate bar, as the chocolate bar that we used already existed, as we wanted to use something that people would recognise. I did some research on the subject and found out that as long as we didn’t profit from it, or used it for educational purposes then copyright laws didn’t apply; our project fitted both criteria. Another example running into a legal issue is in a recent project that we shot. It’s for a client that’s promoting anti-drug-driving. He has a complicated history with the law including selling drugs, stealing motorbikes and other incidents. It’s our responsibility to decide what’s appropriate to go in the final edit without jeopardising the client. This sort of decision is down to us to make, it’s important that the producer researches the legal situation as the client wont usually know about the subject.

Last summer I made a music video for a band called The Alleys. The brief was relatively informal, leaving me with creative control. The only restriction was time. We had one evening and one night to shoot the video, which left me thinking on my feet, as it can be challenging to shoot a narrative that makes sense without using a storyboard. One thing that I would do differently is take half an hour at the beginning to write down a shot list in a timeline format so that we weren’t moving from one location to another. Overall my timekeeping was good, and the film was cut within two days of filming.


Working to a Brief: Unit 5 – Outcome 3

Most of the work that I’ve done is for my own purposes, but I have had sufficient experience working to a clients needs. Even in my personal work, there is always an agenda that needs to be hit, so even if I set the brief myself there are still boundaries and guidelines. Below is my personal showreel.

We’ve had a lot of projects through the college that have enforced the principals of working to a brief. One of these included a film about the Cockermouth floods, titled ‘5 Years on, How Far We’ve Come’. The client for this project wanted us to create a short documentary about how well the town has recovered from the incident. This was a formal brief, the client wanted to convey a specific message; she organised the interviews with people from Cockermouth and we were responsible for the capture and editing of the film.

5 Years On

Another project that was set to a reasonably informal, negotiable brief, was ‘The Lake’. We were working with the Director, Charlie Cattrall, and Dame Janet Suzman. The film had to be shot in Keswick, as it was being entered into the local film festival.

The Lake

Local artist, Tracy Levine, approached the college with the intention of having a film made to market her new exhibition. The film had to be concise and do her persona justice, whilst telling a narrative of her experience as a fine artist.

Tracy Levine

We were recently set a brief to create an advert for a chocolate bar. This was a reasonably short and informal project, so the group had full creative control.

Chocolate Ad 1 Chocolate Ad 2

Working to a Brief: Unit 5 – Outcome 2

We’ve been set a brief by a client, which is to make a film that convinces non-believers that extraterrestrial life exists – without a doubt. The brief was reasonably informal, the client didn’t have a very solid idea of what he wanted at all, so I’ve tried to come up with a wide range of options to choose from.

First Idea: Five part YouTube series concerning the likelihood of extraterrestrial life, each video being between 5-7 minutes, with a snappy nature and possibly interactive features. These interactions could include choosing which order you watch the documentary, which would give it a unique selling point.

Second Idea: Documentary format film called ‘Not Alone’, discussing certain case studies that have become popular as an anchor argument suggesting life elsewhere in space. As the client is a member of MUFON, he can talk about his own experiences and case studies that he’s investigated. The documentary will probably compare to one of Brian Cox’s as it has no definitive ending – in a way it just asks a question to the audience. The three act structure will consist of the initial question, then the sources that can address the question, then a conclusion that will attempt to tie strings as best as they can be tied with this subject.

Third Idea: a three part series, using animated visuals over a podcast type format. This would be interesting as it would give us an opportunity to experiment with sound more, telling the story through the use of audio.

In the end I decided to pursue the second idea, the documentary, as it is more likely to appeal to older people who aren’t as familiar with YouTube, or as affected by animations/podcasts. The reason it’s important to address older people is because their views are more set in stone. If the client wants to change the minds of none-believers then it’s more important to address those who have firm beliefs against his cause. I would, however, like to experiment with some animation within the documentary as it attracts younger audiences, keeping a broad target audience.

The below PDF contains my proposal document.

Unit 5 – Outcome 2 Proposal Document

Here’s an example of one of the questions in my survey to find out more about the target audience.


Below is a meeting with a client for another project, it demonstrates similar skills that were practiced in the meetings with Jack Turnbull, the client for our UFO film.

Working to a Brief: Unit 5 – Outcome 1

Working to a brief requires a particular skill set, so that you can understand a client’s needs and produce a product that ticks the intended boxes.

When agreeing on and analysing a brief for the first time it’s important to pay attention to the structure of it. Some briefs are more formal than others, and have specific deadlines and strict criteria that need to be met. Contractual briefs have a tendency to be more formal, as both parties know what they want from the job within a certain time frame. Negotiated briefs are more flexible, and are found when there is more than one company involved in a production; they can be rewritten to suit certain circumstances. Commissioned briefs are designed so that large companies can employ smaller companies to make a product for an external client – this can be beneficial to the smaller company because they can be paid royalties, for example, when an advert is shown on television. Tender briefs exist so that the client can attract multiple companies to a project, and then decide which one offers the best service to them. This is less formal, and relieves stress for the client and the companies. Competitions are similar to a tender brief, as the aim is to get more than one product. For example, Genero TV is a website that has music video briefs on, which can be either strict or relaxed; bands end up with multiple videos to choose from, which has taken the effort out of creating a video themselves. A cooperative brief is used when there are two or more creators working on the same project, the downside of this is that it opens up an opportunity for strong disagreement – however it can be beneficial, as more perspectives are offered and the brief will be more widely understood.

When reviewing a brief it’s up to the reader to establish what is being asked of their company, and whether it is formal, informal, or corresponds to any of the above structures. Once you have analysed a client’s needs it’s important to communicate with them and talk about what is and isn’t achievable. If a client is inexperienced with film and has irrational expectations then it’s up to you to guide them towards a feasible plan. Otherwise the final product will suffer and might make your company look bad or result in the company not receiving payment, in a worst case scenario. It’s important to be aware of things that might limit the project, such as legal, ethical or regulatory constraints. If you spot something in a brief that could be deemed racist, or that you know is illegal – or breaks certain regulations, then you have to tell the client that what they want to do is unachievable. An example of this problem is in copyright issues, if a client wants to use a certain song that is protected by copyright then this limits where the product can go. From my personal experience I once filmed an interview with a domestic abuse sufferer, they wanted to use a song from the charts in the background, but this would mean that it would be removed from YouTube, and also be illegal to screen elsewhere – so it was my responsibility to make them aware of these issues.

Once you have established what needs altered on the brief (if anything) you have to make these amendments, which is a joint effort, so that you can get as close to the desired product as possible. If for example a client wants you to make a music video that requires a lot of special effects, but is offering £300, then you know that it will take more time than it is worth, so you either have to ask for more payment, or the client needs to change their proposal. It’s also important to make certain of the locations that you would film in, the equipment you’d need, and the amount of crew – this will affect the final budget, and the fees required. This also potentially affects health and safety requirements, which adds another thing to be aware of.

When reading a brief, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the completion of a project is all about the client, as you can develop your own skills whilst doing so. If you look at a proposed brief and have the mindset that it is just too complicated or perhaps difficult for your company to take on, then it’s important to bear in mind that the only way to get better at things and grow as a person is to do the things that make you feel uncomfortable. Pushing yourself or your company can be healthy, as you discover that you’re capable of taking on bigger projects. Opportunities can arise from unexpected things. If you do a project that you otherwise would have declined, and had to multi-skill, and perhaps provoke a level of stress to complete it, then the same client may give you more work – or even direct you to a bigger client.