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In many households, there’s usually a leader that takes charge to get things done. They’re the one that plans the meals, does the laundry, drives the kids around, coordinates activities, and makes 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, managing 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
A knack for storytelling and a creative eye
Ability to identify inspiring stories that resonate with audiences
Strong organizational skills in managing hard and fast deadlines
Excellent 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.
Producer in Pre-Production: Vision and Strategy
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 to have three key messages), because it’s the video producer’s responsibility to make sure those messages are seen and heard, loud and clear, in the final video.
Essentially, the pre-production process allows the client to share their “wish list” for the video, while 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, thought leaders within the organization, or hired talent), and to discuss some must-have visuals for the piece. From there, the producer sets that plan into motion.
Producer in Production: Logistics and Management
Once a video project kicks off, a video producer will own all of the logistics and management leading up to production and filming. They’ll assemble the appropriate-sized production crew, talent, and needed equipment, as well as manage general scheduling logistics. On the day of filming, 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 ensure the crew is capturing everything that was discussed in pre-production.
Producer in Post-Production: Bringing the Vision to Life
After filming is complete, a video producer works very closely with the editor to develop a storyline that encompasses 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, producers lead the process of bringing the vision of the video 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. Every story component will be based upon that one primary message.
2. Who is your audience?
For years, we've produced year-end fundraising event videos for Twin Cities non-profit organizations. Can you guess what objective those videos have? That’s right, to inspire people to donate.
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 the impact of giving. This goes for all videos, even outside of the fundraising space. You want your video to resonate with your intended audience. An effective producer will ask you to identify in detail who your audience is and what they care about? This can be pivotal to the success or failure of your video.
3. So Now What? What Happens Next?
A good video producer should ask you, in so many words, “So now what?" You've produced this beautiful, compelling video, so now what? You've shown it to an audience of 500 people, so now 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 now 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 in a meeting presentation or 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 an initial planning call with a prospective client, 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?"
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
A good producer will work hard to uncover the “why” of your video project. In fact, it’s important that they ask “why” at least five times. In any business endeavor, we shouldn’t be afraid to see out the “why”, because there's likely a big payoff if you keep digging.
An experienced producer won’t hesitate to push their client to really think about the purpose of their video. They won’t shy away from continuing to ask “why” again and again. A top producer is curious, questioning and not afraid of coming across as uniformed. Their job is to ask questions, learn about you, and become an expert in your business so they will be able to shepherd your story from start to finish.
Video producers are an essential part of any video production. They help manage all of the details in the process to make sure that everything goes smoothly so that you walk away with a finished product that exceeds your expectations.
Editors note: This blog was originally published on October 4, 2016, but was updated in April 2022 and July 2023.