Video is the new language of the internet. You can see what kind of impact video is making online just by looking at the major platforms. Instagram with Stories and Facebook with FB Live. Video will become the next language of the internet until something like VR comes along and replaces it.
So everyone with a phone basically can shoot a video. But not everyone knows how to do it right. What’s the right concept, the right equipment, the right angles, the right direction, the right lighting …. the list goes on and on. For your company to grow in terms of branding and also in terms of sales, it is vital that you look at video as a way to communicate with your clients and your potential clients.
And more often than not, working with a kick ass video production company will get you there. But what are the things to look out for while choosing a video production company to work with?
Here are five most important points.
1. Do they value add to your concept?
Many video production companies are technically sound. They know about lighting, what cameras to use, what constitutes a jump cut, etc. I mean technical knowledge is important but to create a really good video, it’s just not enough. A good video production company will be able to add value to the concept and story, which is really the foundation of any good videos. They should also be able to propose and suggest ideas on styles, even choices of actors.
For instance recently, a big agency that hired us as the production house was sharing with us their concept. It’s a cool concept about a mock food vlogger and it’s done to promote ready packed meals. The entire series will be done in a mock reality vlogging style.
I thought it was a really good idea but the agency also shared that they wanted to start the series with a backstory flashback video to show his motivation for becoming a food vlogger. I thought this would be a mismatch of the style as it went into some kind of hyper reality sequences. I suggested that the backstory can be told in the same reality based vlogging format so that it is in line with the style of the entire series.
The agency felt it was a good idea and suggested to client to change their concept. The client agreed and we created a video series that was more coherent and just much more engaging for the audience.
The bottomline is this: The video production house must have the experience and the understanding of the audience and story to provide more value to the agency or the client. It should never consider itself just as a technical production house.
2. Are they nice people?
Which brings me to my next point. I have met many producers and directors and even cinematographers who swing to the other extreme and would challenge the client or agency on their concepts. They are so fixed and preoccupied in their own vision that they fail to see the big picture. But most importantly, they fail to see that the client is the one engaging them and they do have the final say.
I guess it all boils down to whether the culture of the production house is one of culture and attitude. Some artistic people just tend to be more temperamental and stubborn, thus creating a more tense and aggressive working environment. I find such environment tends to be a bad place for creativity to breed. I always choose to work with nice people who can gel with me. I hate drama and I would rather hire a company that is perhaps not as talented but are nice people to work with than a bunch of talented people who are just basically assholes.
3. Is the Director top class?
The director is often a very misunderstood professional. This is because technically anybody can be a director. And what does a director actually do? Most people think of a director as simply the guy who shouts “Action” and “Cut!”. Actually this is not even true since the Assistant Director is the one shouting the commands on set.
It is indeed true that anybody can be a director but to be a GOOD director, that is extremely difficult. A good director needs to know and understand many different facets of a shoot. The technical aspects of cinematography, the psychology of actors, what makes a good story and a good character, how to develop tension within a scene, how music and sound affects a scene, etc.
A good director will be the key deciding factor if your production does well. So never underestimate the importance of who is directing your video. And it’s always good to check out the director’s showreel to get a sense of his/her style, taste and talent.
4. Is the company hiring in-house or freelancers?
Many video production companies are actually small set ups and they hire freelancers when they have shoots. In house crew or freelancers both have their pros and cons. If the company have its own in house crew, the quality is generally consistent and they also do things a bit faster in general. They will probably also have greater flexibility in terms of shoot schedule and they can probably give you better rates in terms of shoot days and even over time pay.
For freelancers, the advantage is that you can choose the most suitable crew for each project. Different camera operators might be good at different types of shoots. For instance, some specialize in action cinematography, some are good at weddings, while some excel in drone videography. They in turn have their own crew that they like to work with.
Generally, I find that freelancers tend to produce better quality of work. But they are also much more expensive than in house crew. Additionally, timing and scheduling will be a bit more difficult with freelancers. So it’s really up to what is needed for the project to determine if in house or freelance crew work best.
5. Do they have passion and pride in their work?
The last and probably the most important point is whether the people in the video production company have passion and pride in their work. Whatever the job or the project entails, the most important aspect is that the people working on it has a passion and pride in doing the job. Without that, the work will mostly be mediocre and it will be a dread in the whole production process as well. Passion and pride are hard to define. It all starts from a company culture and what type of people the company hires.
But it’s easy to detect passion and pride. The people speak with a twinkle in their eyes. They might even argue with you on certain aspects of the production. It shows they really care. I always look for passion first in hiring. Whether it’s hiring a new staff or hiring partners to work with. Without this ingredient, the end product can never be great. It might be good at times, but NEVER great.
And we all want to strive for greatness isn’t it?