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Episode 94 | GOOD. FAST. CHEAP.

In last week’s show I looked into how creativity can sometimes be illusive and talked about the problems and solutions that can be applied when we find it difficult to call up Creativity on Demand. If that’s something that interests you, please go back and have a listen.

Richard Branson said that “Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.”

And today’s episode is the first of 4 shorter test episodes that are going out this season as a trial run for a format which I hope to apply to shows 101 through to 150.

Today’s episode highlights a simple rule that can be applied to virtually any project that we set out to do. It’s known in business as The Project Management Triangle and that triangle uses the terms “cost,” “schedule,” and “scope” but in effect it comes down to the same thing.

The rule is this - "Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two." which may be worded more traditionally as you get what you pay for, but Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two makes better sense of the idea that there simply has to be compromise somewhere.

  • If you want something cheap and fast, it might not be very good.

  • If you want something cheap and good, you really can’t expect it to be done quickly.

  • And if you want something fast but need it to be really good, you are pretty much guaranteed that it will be cheap.

I find this simple rule particularly applicable to video projects so let me give you a couple of examples.

In 2019 I co-produced a film project for an artist who was coming up from London to do shoot in Glasgow. The company they’d hired had let them down so hey approached us to get it done, but shooting had to commence in something like 8 days. We pulled out all the stops and made it happen, but we had to drop everything and pull it together so quickly that we had to pay premium prices for the equipment and the people that we needed to bring in. If we’d had more time we could have done it cheaper, we could have shopped around, but in the end that just wasn’t possible, as the fast turnover that they required worked against us.

On the flip side of that if I’m producing a film of my own, I can generally do it pretty cheaply, because I can take my time over finding locations, finding props and costumes and actors and equipment and I can produce something of a high standard because I’ve spread it over 2 or 3 months where I myself will do a lot of the smaller tasks. That’s pretty much how all of my short films can come together. I’m not saying that all of my short films are great because of this by the way as there are always mitigating factors, and if you listened to last weeks show you’ll know that creativity on demand is not always reliable but as a general guiding principle this little phrase will be useful.

Of course, this principle, this rule as it were assumes the given situation allows you to pick your priorities but the trouble with creative projects of course is that we are often building them from nothing and it’s hard to see problems before they arise. Compromise and flexibility are essential tools for us to use if we are to survive and thrive.

So I’m just offering this up to you. YOU are possibly already aware of it but it seemed a good topic for a short test episode. I hope you have found it helpful.

I will recap by saying simply that there’s always a trade off: Cheap + fast = lower quality work, Fast + good = expensive, Good + cheap = not happening anytime soon so with this in mind you have to ask yourself what are your priorities?

As a call to action, I’d love to hear your feedback on this episode. You can contact me via Twitter @filmproprodpod, Facebook @filmproproductivity, or directly via the contact page on

In the next episode I will be talking about Batching - the act of grouping tasks together, so you do them all at once, instead of switching between tasks that take place in different areas.

Today’s final quote is from Larry Wall who is attributed to first stating this idea, he said There's a saying in the software design industry: "Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two."

Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!

  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu

  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website

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Thanks: A Himitsu Music: Adventures by A Himitsu


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