Unit 5 – Working to a brief

Unit 5- Working to a brief

What is a brief?

In Legal Terms, a brief is described as ‘A summary of facts, guidelines, guidance and information’. They are the primary assets of a brief.
A client will explain to you the need of a product of any format, before accepting this brief your client should also tell you what the strategies of the brief are so that there is clarity the whole way through the brief that confirms you are adequate for the job in hand. A time frame will be discussed, to which suits you both, then your salary.
Many years ago, verbal contracts used to be enough, however nowadays everything has to be written out in full so that if something occurs and needs to be taken to court both the clients and workers have written proof of what is supposed to and not supposed to occur.
Briefs and contracts can be amended, as certain variables will inevitably change.
All previous versions should be kept as evidence in case any legal or other problems arise.
Both the client and the worker should have access to the brief/ contract and they should both have their own copy. Contracts can often be misunderstood which is why regular contact and production diaries are a necessity. Clarity in briefs and contracts is the most important thing.

Production and Payment:

Payment and Production Plans are schedules that join up milestones of work with milestones of payment. For example (the building industry doesn’t work this way, it is purely for example only); if a contractor was being paid to build a shop, his contract could state milestones, like when the foundations have been played the first payment is given, next when the first floor is built – second payment, when the windows are fitted – third payment and so on and so forth.

Termination Clauses

A brief should contain both parties’ clauses for termination.
E.g. a client could terminate a contract, on the grounds that the production is working behind schedule.

There are also buy out clauses.
This is when, for example; a client no longer wants the production to continue, they can then buy out the producer’s contract. This would only happen if the termination was not the producer’s fault, if the producer wasn’t working as agreed then he could be dismissed without being paid if the client has proof of a legitimate fault by the producer.

The producer could also terminate the contract/ brief if the client isn’t sticking to the payment plan, but the producer is on track with their work. The producer could also sue the client if they were doing the work and had proof that both parties agreed to a payment and production plan but they weren’t receiving anything in return, they could legally pursue the matter.
The importance of clarity cannot be stressed enough.

What are the different types of briefs?

There are Formal briefs; these briefs are usually written documents, which use technical and specific language. They are focused and in depth containing detail such as budgets, deadlines and requirements. The Majority of briefs you will get in the media industry are in this style, especially when working with a well-known company.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are informal briefs. These informal briefs can be as straightforward as a discussion over lunch at your local coffee shop. They are non/limited documentations supporting no direct contractual agreement. Informal briefs have no specific requirements that are defined initially, informal briefs tend to be undertaken and then fleshed out at a later date.

A contractual brief is a brief between the client and the employees. It explains the duties required and how the company arranges its work.
These tasks are accepted under legal obligation in the form of signed document, the document is signed by both the client, and the employees, this means that both the client and the employees have a legal document which covers both the client and the employees if a situation occurs where the contract has been breeched, in this case it can help to solve the issue.
The client’s desires and deadlines must be met; both the client and the media producer must abide by the brief. The definition of a contractual brief is “A type of brief or contract where a media company is employed by the client in order to complete a project within the brief, which is set to specific guidelines, which the media company must follow.” It imperative for the media company to follow these guidelines and do exactly what the client states within the brief, if they fail to do so this can result in a breech of contract and the company could face legal actions. The advantages of using a contractual brief are that the media company involved, will know exactly what the project is and what they are being asked to do as the brief is highly detailed, it goes into specifics that are not to be negotiated. Disadvantages of this type of brief are that, if the media company thinks that there are issues within the brief and they produce the product to their own standards. This would not be producing the product to the standards set by the client, and the client could decide to take legal action and this could result in your company having a bad reputation for not completing projects to a set brief.

A Negotiated brief is where both the client and the media producer make decisions; through negotiations the brief may be altered. This type of brief will be brought up if the co-operative brief given to the two of more media companies that are competing the project have any issues between them selves about the brief or anything they would like to clear up with the client. Through the negotiations the brief can then be changed in order to suite every party taking part in the production. This could be anything from changing the appearance of the product to changing the products content as well as keeping it to the guidelines set in the brief. Advantages within this brief are that certain points can be negotiated means that the project is more open to suggestions from multiple perspectives which could make the product more successful over all. Disadvantages are that negotiating the brief can sometimes-waste time is unnecessary issues are brought up that the client believes do not need to be tackled and this can delay the production time of the product.

Cooperative Brief is a brief that involves two or more media producers, Production Company’s work together to meet the brief e.g. film producers and a separate post-production house.
In this type of brief there are usually two or more companies that are hired by the client to work to the brief they have written for the specific project they want to get completed. After both companies have received the brief they can then proceed to work together to produce the product. If there is a disagreement or conflict in ideas there can be a negotiated brief in order to resolve these issues. There may be communication errors and a clash in creative idea, time sharing etc. may become issues. Advantages of having this type of brief means that there can be more perspectives to creating the product needed by the client and therefore means that the brief can be more understood than if there were only one company working on the project.

Disadvantages in this type of brief are that they can be more prone to disagreements and conflict in the ideas being given by each of the different media companies that have been employed by the client.

Tender Brief is where a client will advertise their brief and a production company will bring together a proposal that they will pitch to the client, there could be multiple pitches to the client from many different companies, so the client will then get the chance to choose the proposal that they think best suits their brief and offer the job to that production company.

Advantages, The advantages of this brief is that the client will be able to look at many different ideas for their product from different companies perspectives and in effect will be able to produce their product to a very high standard if one of the pitched ideas stands out above all of the others.

Disadvantages The disadvantage of this type of brief is that if a company’s pitch is turned down by the client this can set them back in business as it is very hard to gain work in this day and age. The business may have been very optimistic in thinking that the client would have accepted their proposal and could have gone as far as to decline any work that they were offered in the time that they would have been working on this project.

The brief is advertised/ given to multiple media producers, the producers then wrote a proposal and pitch their ideas to the client one by one, the client will then pick the best ‘tender’ that they receive

Competition Brief;
Is where a client can put their brief out so it can be accessed by all of the different production companies that are participating. It can sometimes been seen as a free competition as each production company will complete the brief and the client can then judge which company has the best project and as an award they have it published.

The advantage is that the client only has to pay the one winning production company, but sometimes will not have to pay them at all. Also the facet that they have multiple companies producing a product means that they have a large choice of products and can choose the one that they believe will be the most successful. A disadvantage of this is the same as the disadvantage of a tender brief; the companies that are turned down by the client may become disheartened as they have missed out on potential work and money.
The brief is advertised/ given to multiple media producers, the producers don’t have to pitch, all the different producers create their product, the client then picks the one which is the best, the reward is often just the prospect of getting your project published/ distributed.

Commission Brief;
This brief is where a large media company will employ an other independent media company to create and produce the product for them, and after the product has been made the larger company may go on to be use the product for an external client who will pay the independent media company for making the product and they could even get a cut of the royalties too. The brief is not negotiated between the company and the client, however is negotiated between the two media companies.

Having this type of brief means that the larger company does not have to do all of the hard work, so to speak. They can sub-contract the work that is set in the brief out to another company and each company will both receive money for the work they have contributed to the making of the product.

This type of brief could mean that because there are two different companies working on the same product there could be some conflicts, but because the brief is not negotiated with the client, the product made may not be to the client’s standards.
A media company employs an independent company to produce a product from them on their behalf. The brief is not negotiated between the media producer and their employer/ commissioner. However the commissioner might negotiate the brief with the client. The independent company is paid and may receive royalties.

My Final Major Project:
My brief is a negotiated brief; I am working with Guide Dogs for The Blind to create multiple projects. I have left most of the choices up to them but we are currently in the midst of arranging a meeting to finalize details. Anything that is negotiated will be to fit in with my coursework.



To Add:

Example for competitive brief and add advantages and disadvantages of each!
What skills I am going to develop, and legal and ethical.


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