Time, Resources, Quality, Management, Attention, Speed, Price, Deadlines: Pick 6
So I listen to Back to Work, I pay attention to things Merlin makes now and again, even when it doesn't feel as though it applies to me or my own work. One item of discussion from an episode that went by months ago that's stuck with me is the general requirements to the success of a project: Resources, Management, and Deadlines.
I think Merlin and Dan were probably talking about guys programming in cubes, but when it comes to producing independent short films for the i-net, I find it's rare to be gifted with all three of those. We try to make do with two of them, a la Fast, Good, or Cheap.
A video that comes to me on a hard drive, even when it's beautifully shot (or failing that, shot with technical accuracy), that someone wants made as a favor, just wants it done "soon" and never checks in or responds to my attempts to check in with them, is not a video that's getting done.
So without Resources, Management, or Deadline, a potential- well, not client, but potential favor recipient- is left to hope for Fast, Cheap, OR Good. Just one! Pretty much any other project is going to get done first, because the message that comes through to me is that if it's not worth the attention of the writer/director/lead actor, I don't know why it's more worthy of my time than any of the dozen other projects I'm casually juggling or tentatively agreeing to work on someday.
Apparently, every couple years I end up with a video that confounds me to a degree that between the client and I, someone should really be firing someone, but without any resources, management, or deadlines, apparently nobody notices or wants to pass up the sweetheart deal they're getting (or would be, if I could figure out how to finish the thing).
So why or how do I end up with such a project? Well, in the most recent quagmire, I didn't even agree to the work, the files were just delivered one day instead of answers to the preliminary questions I usually ask. This should have been a big red flag; I should have refused delivery. But I'm an optimist! I'll agree to at least discuss a project with almost anybody. This is partially because 1 in 5 projects discussed might actually happen. And I want to make things. I like making them.
At the most extreme example of experimentally saying yes to every project that came my way, I had at one point, in less than a week, agreed to cut an entire feature film for $400, color correct a different feature for $0, co-host a daily podcast about video games, and probably contribute in some way to another short or two. None of those projects happened, and after agreeing to their terms and in some cases meeting in person I never heard from anyone involved in any of those projects again. Perhaps now, years later, they'll all come knocking one day and wonder if I'm ready to get to work...