Great communication is at the heart of working with others to tell compelling stories. Today we speak with ScreenLight customer Tangent Mind about their approach to working with clients and the role that ScreenLight plays in centralizing communication throughout the video production process.
Please tell us a little bit about your business.
They call me Jon Michael Ryan. I run around claiming to belong to an organization called Tangent Mind, for which I am apparently the owner or janitor, or something in-between. Technically, I'm the Director of Photography. Additionally, I spend hours in our editing suite. We are a motion photography studio that handles production through post with a bent towards documentary storytelling. The majority of our work happens through agencies, but we also take on direct clients, as well as develop our own projects. The kind of client we see on a yearly basis shifts dramatically; sometimes we're with suits in buildings, other days we're detained by customs in Ukraine.
Tell us about your approach to working with clients?
We really like to focus on relational business as the foundation for our process. We focus a lot of our attention on understanding what our clients are trying to achieve before exploring the storytelling process with them. Our focus isn't to walk into every project with a fifteen person crew; rather, we want to tell the right story, the right way, every time. Sometimes that involves big productions, sometimes it involves consultation.
What projects are you really passionate about?
Personally, I'm passionate about the kinds of projects that allow me to show people fascinating portions of everyday life. Not necessarily exotic locations, but productions in which I'm given unrestricted access to explore a location to find interesting ways of showcasing it. As a company, we're passionate about projects in which we're asked to explore and discover entertaining, informative and effective means of engaging an audience.
What's your dream for Tangent Mind?
We talk about this often. We'd like to see the production industry in Saint Louis continue to strengthen, provide more jobs for our region, and continue to build the reputation for quality that we see growing in our city. We'd also like to explore other avenues that the business opens to us: funding independent productions, sponsoring students, doing things to share our interests regionally and internationally. We'd also like to produce graphic novels, books, toys, and all the other weird fantasies from our youth. I think our Production Coordinator wants us to raise ponies.
What's the biggest challenge you face in running your company?
Cash flow is always a challenge, taxes and insurance are a nuisance, keeping people happy is a complex goal, but the hardest thing is communicating clearly with myself, with my business collaborators, our vendors, and our clients. Clear communication is everything.
How did you share videos and communicate with clients prior to adopting ScreenLight?
Poorly. We tried Vimeo and YouTube privacy avenues, sharing a link and giving clients a password. And of course, YouSendit or DropBox. This worked for a while, and Vimeo allowed me to upload files on the back-end without changing URL's. This was helpful, but still exposed my clients to many distractions and didn't really provide us with what we wanted. YouSendit and DropBox meant our clients were now handling physical files, and we experienced problems with compression, versions of files, size of files, etc. For our vendors, sending files worked. For clients, it was a huge complication, and trying to offer tech support to a chain of fifteen people on every project wasn't realistic. We discussed building our own back-end service to provide clients private access and track edit notes, version progress, etc. And then we stumbled across ScreenLight.
What prompted you to start using ScreenLight?
ScreenLight gave me an option to contain all of our projects in one location. It gave our clients something to belong to, and an easy way to separate the multiple projects we were handling at any given moment. My production coordinator found it easy enough to use, and even our interns got the hold of it. Back to relational business, I tossed them a call. Chris Potter called me back and spent about an hour chatting. We talked business to business, person to person. And then we talked about ScreenLight. How it started, where it was, and where it would go. In retrospect, the platform developed far beyond what Chris and I talked about back then; far beyond my expectations.
How has using ScreenLight changed your workflow?
ScreenLight centralizes our post production revision and presentation process. It also allows us to create private screening rooms for potential clients and working bids. The ease of use factor, as well as the client, project, and participant settings give me extreme flexibility. Want an Art Director to comment? Got it. Want the Client not to see those comments? Got it. I have the power to choose who sees what, and when. And no one sends the wrong files, comments on the wrong versions, or complains that files are too big.
How has ScreenLight personally helped you meet business goals?
It's reduced the strain we experience trying to help projects reach a conclusion. All parties can comment in one place, and there isn't an onslaught of notes hidden in e-mail chains that I might be apt to overlook. "Please share your comments on the ScreenLight viewing page." It's as simple as that. I can track the changes, upload a new version, and post a new comment explaining what was changed and how.
How have clients responded?
Initially, some clients had problems with speed or browser access. ScreenLight staff responded to any of our concerns, implementing new features regularly. As ScreenLight grew as an entity, and as we learned how to work it into our own workflow more effectively, responses became very positive. They still are. The GUI is clear and easy to use, looks good, is branded with our logo. The project folders are easy to navigate. Clients love it.
What are your favorite features of ScreenLight?
The customer response. The company is ultra-relational. I love being able to toss a note when something isn't working, or we experience a new problem, and receiving a response relatively quickly. They adapt to our post production needs as the market changes, or expectations change. It's great.
Any other time saving and workflow tips that you want to share?
Back to communication, I would encourage anyone stepping over to a service like ScreenLight to take the time to explain to your clients why you utilize it. They've come to expect YouTube and Vimeo type experiences with video, and this is just that with the added bonus of being geared towards the post production workflow. It's an added bonus to any project. It saves time. It provides one location for log notes, changes, etc. It also simplifies early stages of post production as well; upload interview content, b-roll, you name it. It's a great tool for providing dailies as well. Toss your proxies online and your AD's and CD's can spend hours nitpicking or note-taking before they walk into the suite. I suppose it depends on the project, the client, and the end goal, meaning it's ultimately about communication.