Some of you may think it’s child’s play. And for the armchair directors amongst you that’s possibly true. But if you’re finding your feet in the film world here are a few key things to look for when outsourcing a high quality video production company.
1. What’s my goal?
Before your search begins, try to form a clear view of why you want to commission a video.
- What are you trying to achieve?Are there measurable goals?
A good production company will advise you on how realistic they are.
2. Where to start?
A personal recommendation is the obvious way to go, but whatever your approach, once you’re on their site they still need to impress. A decent company will have a portfolio of work easily accessible. If they don’t, ask why.
And when looking at their work, ask yourself two questions:
- Is their work really engaging?
- Is there a quality in everything they do?
If the answer is yes to both questions then the chances are, budget permitting, it could be the start of a beautiful collaboration.
3. Is their work engaging?
Creating a video is not a simple process of moving information from text to TV.
If it were, we’d all be in Hollywood.
- It’s about searching out new and interesting ways to get a message across.
- It’s about surprising people and subverting conventions.
- It’s about juxtaposing ideas.
- It’s about keeping you hooked.
- It’s about lots of things, but when done well it engages you, and in some ways, that’s all you need to know.
A small caveat here. Sometimes production companies make films about the most mind-numbingly boring subjects. Sure, it’s their job to choose the most interesting angle, but even so, some topics will never set the world alight. So do set the question of – is their work engaging – in the context of the video’s topic.
4. Is it a quality video?
Technical and aesthetic features are the two qualities to look out for. The best companies do both well.
Mostly this is obvious, but good ways of telling are:
- Can you hear what people are saying clearly? Or does the number 25 bus punctuate the soundbites?
- Is the picture colour-balanced properly?
- Are the interviews lit properly?
- Is every shot framed beautifully?
- Have they used an appropriate font for the captions?
5. Style v storytelling skills
It doesn’t matter if they haven’t done exactly the same style of film you are thinking of commissioning.
A clever video production company has generic skills that can be used to great effect in most mainstream videos. Their real skill is story-telling and they hand-pick the best freelance editors, cameramen, animators to suit each job.
Our first and probably best animation to date was commissioned by a brave client who placed his trust in our team’s story-telling abilities rather than looking at our portfolio.
6. Would you like to meet?
Whether it’s virtual or in person, this is when the creative brief starts to develop.
This is the first opportunity to show how good they are at listening to your needs. I would be worried about any ‘creative’ who at this stage spends too much time talking rather than listening. And they also should not be afraid to ask some probing questions about your company’s brand and goals.
- Their creative responses don’t have to be immediate, the best ones can take time.
- After that initial conversation, the production company should send a very basic treatment for the project, though if it’s a more complex project, then it might take another couple of conversations.
- How it proceeds very much depends on your budget and this conversation should really take place during the first conversation or meeting.
7. How much?
If possible, try to have a rough budget in mind to suggest in your meeting.
We actually prefer to know a ballpark figure before any physical meet-up – as then we know how much time to spend getting to understand the client’s brand.
- An indication of budget will help focus the minds of the production company.
- They should be able to give you an idea of what is – and isn’t – achievable within your suggested budget.
- Think about delivery post-production too – does your budget need to cover marketing to get your video into the online space?
8. When do you need your video made by?
- At the point of commission, a production company should draw up a detailed schedule that builds in time for client feedback, mistakes and the ‘unexpected’.
- That should be sent along with a signed-off treatment, budget and their terms and conditions before any money exchanges hands.
- It is not unreasonable for a company to ask for a percentage of the proposed budget up front. There’s nothing like money to focus the minds of both parties.
There’s also no harm in meeting with a couple of video production companies to talk though your ideas. You need to be happy and confident that you’re in the capable hands of creative and competent storytellers.
Larchmont Films is a full service video production company helping brands and communities to communicate effectively through film. Get in touch today to see what we can do for you, or alternatively get the ball rolling by completing our video brief submission form.