You’ve got the green light from “above” to proceed with a video. That’s exciting! Ideally, you also have a budget in mind. Now, you need to find a video production company that will make you look like a hero (at least in the eyes of your boss.)
Given the rise in popularity of video (and all the social platforms where it can be utilized) there is no shortage of production companies out there that promise everything from a-to- z and beyond. Spending time up front to find the right partner might be the best investment you make.
…let the guy in accounting convince you that his nephew can do it.
…shoot it on your iphone.
…hire a wedding photographer.
…assume a larger company is better than a small company.
…go for the lowest quote, until you’ve compared “apples” to “apples.”
…ask for referrals for production companies from colleagues or other work associates.
…thoroughly review the production company’s website. Does it support their claim that they are experts in their field? Do their core values jive with that of your organization?
…review a potential company’s activity on social media. (How recent is their last blog or “recent news”? How often do they Tweet? Update their Facebook page? Non-activity doesn’t mean they won’t do a good video, but it is a warning flag that they may not be current within their industry.
….find out if they offer all the services you require, i.e., editing, scriptwriting, animation, etc…
…inquire as to whether they have any references or testimonials available.
Once you’ve determined which production companies might be a good fit for your project, reach out to them for further conversation and estimates. Be wary of any company that doesn’t ask a lot of questions up front. There are many details that go into a video production and the only way to accurately estimate what it’s going to cost is to understand the full scope of what’s needed. If you can, I believe it’s helpful to present your budget range up front. If you only have $15,000 to spend, why invite ideas in the $50K range? Also, to ensure a level playing field, be sure to give each production company the same information to consider. For example, if you intend to use staff in the video as opposed to paid actors, it will be important for everyone bidding to have that same information. Most production companies should be able to provide you with an estimate within a few days. Don’t be afraid to follow up with questions or clarifications on what certain line items mean.
Work samples and money aside, my best advice for finding a compatible partner is to make sure you feel comfortable working with the primary contact. Does he or she answer your questions quickly and thoroughly? Do you like the tone of their response? Do they ask you the right questions? Do they take the initiative in offering suggestions based on their expertise?
You’re looking for a pro-active contact with the know-how and willingness to usher the project from beginning to end so you don’t have to “babysit” every stage of the production.
Before signing any contract, make sure you are clear about exactly what the production company is providing. Most often, the following (if warranted) will be included in your bid.
Finally, take time to address any potential bumps in the road before they occur. Inquire as to how the company will handle: overages related to longer than anticipated shoot days, weather-related shoot cancellations, additions or revisions to the project once underway, ownership of the footage, ownership of props after the shoot, etc…. The producer at the production company should be willing to answer your questions in a timely and friendly fashion…
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