From a client’s point of view, commissioning a video can be a risky business. Where do you go? Via your regular marketing agency, directly to a video production company or to somebody’s cousin, fresh out of film school? And how do you avoid falling prey to an indecipherable ‘creative vision’, or a production you could have shot yourself on an iPad?
Well the good news is, when it comes to video you know a lot more than you think you do. You know good TV when you see it and you know how to connect with your clients off screen. Take that knowledge and then consider three very important Vs that will take the pain out of choosing the right supplier for you:
For a film to entice and retain viewers it needs to look good and have a strong narrative. That narrative should complement and enhance your existing strengths. If you’re known for sharp architectural detail and finish, get your video producer to show you examples of how they’ve crafted films to bring out these attributes. If the personal touch is your thing, how about going in front of camera yourself to connect with clients?
Never be bamboozled by creative jargon. A good producer should have a strong portfolio that you like and understand. Just because somebody used to work in feature films or boasts an award for a groundbreaking viral ad campaign, it doesn’t qualify them to make the right property video for you. Don’t be afraid to fire up YouTube and say ‘we’d like something like this’. Your producer’s response will be a great indicator of whether you should be working with them.
Budgets can vary widely, from a £500 wave-the-camera-about tour to £50K plus for agency-driven shoots involving actors, helicopters and foreign locations. Ask tough questions about what you’re getting for your money. How many filming and editing days are involved, and what equipment is being deployed? Find out who the key talent is. You don’t want to pay top rates only to find out office juniors are running the shoot. Be clear about schedules and the scope for changing things if you’re not happy. Commissioning a film should be a relatively stress-free and enjoyable part of your job. If you’re not clear on anything, ask for transparency. If you don’t get it, run a mile.
We used to think of property videos as the film version of a brochure: self-contained units that could sit on your client’s desk. The digital age has shown us they’re so much more versatile than their paper equivalents. Getting your film produced is just the beginning. Consider whether you need just one version, or would be better breaking it down into mini films. Do you want to show potential clients everything at once, or do you want to tease them with work-in-progress to build momentum? It’s also worth thinking about international versions. Closed-caption subtitling is very cost effective, and, along with video tagging, is an increasingly important part of an SEO campaign.
The most flexible approach is to think of your footage as a collection of video assets. Re-edit it and add a few interviews to produce a company profile. Offer it to approved websites to help drive your traffic, or tie it into a topical debate. Or just release select tidbits to a highly exclusive and potentially profitable audience. Above all, make your video work hard for you. Unlike a glossy book, feel free to disrespect it, chop it up and throw it around. It’s your versatile workhorse, not a producer’s vanity project.