What to Discuss with a Client Before Production Starts

[Updated Feb. 21, 2022, with comments from John Forrest.]

This is an article I need your help with. While every project is different, most of us work in corporate or client-based video. As you start a new project, what topics are key to discuss with a client before pre-production starts?

I’m compiling this to share with students and folks new to the industry to help them understand the client planning needed at the start of a project.

Since all we have to sell is our skills and time, it’s good to get these resolved at the start.

NOTE: Clearly there are more tasks than this associated with any production. My goal here is to list those that affect the working relationship between client and production agency. This is not to say that changes are not permitted. Rather, this explains who needs to approve them and any budget impact they may cause. 

Please add your thoughts in the comments and I’ll update this article as we go.






Let me know what I forgot in the comments section.

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31 Responses to What to Discuss with a Client Before Production Starts

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  1. Joe Ake says:

    Hi Larry, Most everything here is covered in the T&Cs of a well-written contract. It is your responsibility to make sure your client understands how those T&Cs relate to them. I will never start any project without a percentage of the payment for the production cost of any project and that’s in my contract. You must have the meeting before the meeting!! Nothing beats experience and I have done a lot of failing forward in the days of my productions. Small customers are never prepared and are always in a rush and don’t understand their need to budget for production. Who is your customer who do you want to do business with? Small customers will never have the risk of loss like the bigger ones have, so you will always be serving small customers on a ham sandwich budget however there are a lot of small customers that make the drop in the bucket a full gallon? It’s our job to help customers of all sizes, big ones have risks small ones need a template to fit into and that’s on us. If you understand the risk of the company your T&Cs will make sense to them based on their risk of loss.

  2. Toni Moss says:

    Sorry, but what is a T&C?

    • Larry Jordan says:


      Smile… Always good to ask. T&C = “Terms and Conditions.” These define what the contract covers, who’s responsible and what happens if there’s a problem.


  3. Ethan Derner says:

    A pricing structure I’ve used often:

    30% to start
    30% at rough cut
    40% upon delivery

    • Larry says:


      Oooh! I like that you get substantial money up front, but the client feels like the full payoff waits upon completion. Thanks for sharing this.


      • Ethan Derner says:

        You’re welcome Larry. This also protects you should the client pull the plug before the project has wrapped, with some revenue to cover your investment of time spent. And pre-production work if any occurs.

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