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What is a Video Producer and What Do They Actually Do?

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In many households, there’s usually a leader that takes charge to get things done. They’re the ones that plan the meals, do the laundry, drive the kids around, coordinate activities, and make sure everyone in the family feels loved every day. Well, consider a video producer “the household leader” of one big video family.

The Role of a Video Producer

A video producer coordinates and manages many aspects of a video production process from start to finish. In a nutshell, a producer may help with creative direction, setting a budget, writing scripts, organizing logistics, deadlines, and communicating with the team each step of the way.

What Skills Does a Video Producer Need?

  • Fierce attention to technical detail
  • Patience to work through big-picture changes
  • Has a knack for storytelling and a creative eye
  • Knows how to identify inspiring stories that tug at heartstrings
  • Strong organizational skills in managing hard and fast deadlines
  • Strong communication skills

A Producer's Role in the Video Production Process

Throughout the entire video production process, a video producer is in constant communication with their team, the client, and various other members of a video shoot. Working to help creatively execute something as unique and subjective as a video project requires a lot of trust, communication, and expectation setting. 

  • Pre-Production: At the beginning of a video project, a producer will help to coordinate its creative vision and strategy. By developing a strategy that fits within a client’s overall goals and objectives, videos are more likely to be successful, no matter how success is defined. So it’s always important that the producer asks the client upfront: “What are we hoping to accomplish with this video?” With that question in mind, producers work with the client to identify key messages for the piece (a good rule of thumb is three key messages), because it’s the video producer’s responsibility to make sure those messages are heard loud and clear in the final video. Essentially, the pre-production process allows the client to share their “wish list” for the video, and the video producer serves as the creative thought-leader and problem-solver in making it happen. This planning phase also serves as an opportunity for the client and producer to identify potential speakers for the video (whether it be team members or hired talent), and to discuss some must-have visuals for the piece. From there, the producer sets that plan into motion.

  • Production: Once a video project kicks off, a video producer will own all of the logistics and management leading up to the shoot. They’ll line up the production crew, talent, needed equipment and general scheduling logistics. On the day of the video shoot, they serve as the director and field producer on set, ensuring everything runs smoothly and on time, while also taking the lead on creative direction and quality control to make sure the crew is capturing everything that was discussed in pre-production.

  • Post-Production: After shooting is complete, a video producer works very closely with the editor to develop a storyline that ecompasses those key messages. Producers then continue to manage the post-production timeline – tracking budget, critiquing creative execution of the editing process, and ensuring all deadlines are met. Ultimately, video producers help to bring the vision to life.

Questions Your Video Producer Should Be Asking (or How to Spot a Good Video Producer)

The following questions are essential for the success of any video project and an experienced video producer should ask these questions during that pre-production process. These questions will help uncover the purpose and vision and help guide the final product of your video.

1. What are you trying to say in the video?

What is the one thing you want people to remember after they've watched your video? What should stick? Most people can't remember more than three messages. Your challenge is to think of just one that you want people to remember. Everything else is then based upon that one primary message.

2. Who is your audience? 

For years, we've produced year-end fundraising events videos for Twin Cities non-profit organizations. Can you guess what objective those videos have? To inspire people to donate, right?

Most people who attend fundraisers know that they'll be asked for donations, but they’re much more likely to donate if they’re feeling emotionally compelled after watching a story that demonstrates their impact. This goes for all videos, even outside of the fundraising space. You want your video to resonate with your intended audience. Can your client describe in detail who the audience is and what they care about? This can be pivotal to the success or failure of your video.

3. So What? What Happens Next?

You should always be prepared to ask your client, in so many words, “So what?" You've produced this nice beautiful video, so what? You've shown it to an audience of 500 people, so what? What is the outcome you're trying to generate with this piece? What happens next?

It's important to know what the call to action will be from your video. Do you want people to explore your site more, to reach out and contact you, or to donate money? Each one of these desired outcomes requires a different type of video to be successful. Be sure to consider your "so what" before you start your video project.

4. Where will it be viewed?

We recently had a prospective video client tell us they want an overview video for their company that can be used online, in meetings, at trade shows, and in emails. That's a pretty good list, but the video may be presented differently for each audience. It's important that a producer knows all the places you plan to show your video because what works online may not work at a trade show.

5. How will this video help you generate revenue?

Outside of the nonprofit world, business-to-business organizations are using video as a communications or sales tool.

When we had our first planning call with that prospective client mentioned earlier (regarding a company overview video for their website), the conversation went something like this:  

Producer: "Why do you want this video?"

Client: "We want people to watch it and better understand who we are."

Producer: "Why is that important?"

Client: "We think if people know us better, they'll be more likely to buy our products."

Producer: "How will you know?"

Client: [unsure]

As producers, we become indispensable to our clients when we can help them connect the dots and lead them to outcomes that impact the bottom line. Understand that video is a valuable sales tool, but it's valuable only when it's produced and positioned in a way that will drive actual and measurable results.

6. Ask why, a lot.

I recently read that in fact-finding we should ask “why” five times. That makes sense to me, but even when you ask a prospect or client “why” five times, it may still not be enough to get to the actual answer you need. Don't be afraid to ask why, there's probably a big payoff if you keep digging.

Producers can sometimes be hesitant to push their client to really think about the purpose of the video. They shy away from asking "why," again and again and again. Is it because they are afraid the client will think they don’t understand their business? Is it because they’re embarrassed in being that persistent? Or is it simply that they just don't think to ask? Either way, fight the temptation to brush this answer off, or to accept a mediocre response. It will make for a better video if you do.

Conclusion

Video producers are an essential part of any video shoot. They help manage all of the details in the process to make sure that everything goes smoothly and you walk away with a finished product that exceeds your expectations.

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Editors note: This blog was originally published on October 4, 2016, but was updated on July 15, 2021.