Updated: Apr 11, 2021
Every day is a chance to incrementally move forward. The challenge of creative business is deciding where to focus.
I'm Josh Emerick, owner of Theal. Honestly, the idea of ownership feels condescending and ego-driven. I hate giving introductions like this. Really, I'm a creative who loves building relationships with other creatives, my clients, and learning. Over the last decade, I've been building my own video business through music videos, corporate filmmaking, weddings, narrative, vlogging, and anything that gives me energy. Through all these ventures, I've met many people, faced many growing pains, and realized the best way forward is to give back what I know. Sometimes it's a good therapy session, and other times, you are gifted the answer you need. Commonly I've found I'm usually in my own way and it takes looking at the problems zoomed out to solve them.
Getting started, I wanted to do creative and fulfilling work, but I found there's was a lot of resistance and a lack of authority. I wasn't looking for a "my way or the highway" approach. Still, I felt my opinion and professional knowledge wasn't being heard, or the client's vision would ultimately sabotage what could have been a great project. This didn't change until I started thinking more like my client's.
It's easy to blame the client, but this takes control from us and gives them all the power. I started asking why they said what they said or felt the way they did. I studied my clients and became curious instead of defensive. This was the tip of the iceberg of change. I think it boils down to creative authority, which is being respected as the professional I am and confidently expressing my points without diminishing my clients' perspective.
Along this path, I realized buyer's remorse with such significant investments the start for resistance, so in refining my process, I wanted to tackle this issue. How could I ease the buyer's remorse client experiences? Clarifying my process. I started spending as much time pitching the creative as I did the process by which things get done.
The story I hear from many creatives is "if" I had newer gear, added more effects, had bigger budgets or a team, then I could get bigger and better projects. This thinking takes control out of our hands. Instead, I started thinking about using my time and preparation to operate the way I envisioned those "bigger budgets." I wasn't sure what would result or if it was a waste of time, but what I did know is doing the same thing would result in the same frustrations. So I changed it up.
This is where the passion for organization began. In late 2017 we had a project with a $4300 budget and a $10k creative. Previous to this, it would take our team two days to produce. The art department was the most exciting aspect of the creative, the rental budget was reasonable, and our team was minimal. We didn't want to play hardball either. The client was a good fit personality-wise, and we could see long-term growth. I wanted to find a win-win, so I asked, "how can we do this in a day?"
Time management has always been a personal strength, and I devised a way to empower this into our team. This project's reward would come from giving pre-production a $10k effort to make a $4300 budget possible. I outlined version one of the ProBook, which was 12 pages, outlining the creative, scene descriptions, lighting diagrams, roles, and responsibilities, and prioritizing each step of the day for each crew member.
This document not only allowed us to make the project possible, but it gave me instant feedback on its value. My crew felt empowered and tactical, our client followed our instructions, and it felt like we had an actual dose of respect, and the project still stands as a prominent piece and new chapter forward. I witnessed my unique ability to organize, pre-visualize, and share information to impact creativity and work culture. From here on, I started seeing how my planning could level us up in small ways.
Over time, those efforts caught up to us financially, finally awarding us bigger budgets. It took a starting point and creating the action vs. waiting for the opportunity. The tools we're creating with Theal are in this same vein, impacting the creative process in ways we often skip. Not everyone has a natural love or focus for building these sorts of tools or systems, so our hope is to simplify those steps and empower creatives to get back to aspects of their work they love, being creative.
Josh Emerick | Producer, DP + Editor
Being creative has enough emotional challenges, but the business side is a whole other beast. In my experience, it's finding a way to speak creatively and with business together that creates the most traction and least stress. I will always advocate for being organized. I've witnessed the personal reduction of stress and creative flow as a result.
Take a deeper dive into my care for client experience with my episode of Learn Videography.