QUESTION:
We want to make a video for our company but we aren’t sure where to begin? Do you have any advice for planning before we start looking for video production companies?

ANSWER: 
It is great that you are looking ahead and being strategic before you select your production team. Planning is essential when hiring a production company.

Below are our top dozen items to get you started:

1. Determine the purpose of your video. What do you hope to accomplish?

2. Identify your audience. Is it technical? Consumer? Legislators? Multiple audiences?

3. Is this video going to be part of a larger campaign or a standalone project?

4. How long do you want the video to be? Be reasonable with this. Review what you want to cover and map out how much time each point will take, if possible. We find that many clients underestimate the time required for their outline of topics.

5. Where do you want to film the video? In your office, a studio, on location? Multiple locations? The answer to this question will directly affect the budget.

6. If you are using an outdoor location, understand that you will need to plan an additional day or two of production to accommodate any weather delays.

7. If the location is not owned by your organization, can you secure rights to film there?

8. What do the locations look like? Are there things that need to be worked around, such as large windows or noisy background? These affect lighting and sound budgets.

9. Are you planning to hire a narrator or use someone in-house? An amateur will take longer to film or record, which again goes back to scheduling enough time. A professional will require casting time.

10. Do you want to match any other materials (brand marketing, convention materials, print pieces, etc.)? Those looks can be incorporated into the video and even animated for visual interest. New material can be created, but will take longer.

11. How do you plan to distribute the video: web site, awards show, DVD, email, broadcast, etc. This will affect the equipment we choose and our editing process. If you need DVD or Blu-Ray, that needs to be factored in duplication time and cost.

12. When do you need the final video? This affects the entire schedule and determines the feasibility of the timeline.

Our other big advice is about the hiring process. Keep in mind that creating a production budget and proposal takes time and effort to do properly. Please be reasonable in your requests. The standard in most industries is to put a bid out to three companies, not sixteen.

In the proposals, companies may be willing to offer general creative direction for a project, particularly if it affects budget, but do not expect all the details or a fully realized plan. That is part of the preproduction process and requires more details than are typically included in an RFP. A plan can only be finalized after a kick-off meeting with the entire team and a broad exchange of ideas.

It also helps if you can establish your criteria for selecting a company before you receive bids. Will it be a bottom-line choice or the company with the best strategic approach and storytelling? Anyone can tell a story, but can your selection tell it well? As with any industry, experience matters.

If you have additional questions, contact us. We are always happy to answer questions about video production. Post your questions below, send us an email or go old school and pick up the phone.

Good luck with your project.