You’ve decided to want a video, great! Now what?
Unless you're satisfied with doing something on your phone (which will look more amateur-ish), you’re likely going to seek out a video production company to help bring your vision to life, especially if the video is going to live on your website indefinitely. You’ll want a professional to shoot it, someone to edit it, and yes, someone to produce it. When you book a video production company, that’s usually all packaged together.
Shooting and editing a video are pretty self-explanatory, but what does the producer do exactly? They’re the ones who are going to partner with you to make sure that the production process runs smoothly and that, in the end, you’re getting a video that hits the mark. They lead the creative direction from start to finish, help craft the storyline of your video, and make sure that the final product delivers the message it was intended to. Though part of their role is to keep the project on track and on budget, a creative producer is more than a project manager.
How is a producer different from a project manager?
In my role, I do a good amount of project management to ensure we’re hitting deadlines. But the majority of my work as a creative producer is to make sure that the video you get in the end speaks to your intended audience, and is delivered in a way that’s going to engage and inspire.
For each client, when we kick off the video production process, we start with a pre-production call where we discuss audience, key messages, and what video treatment would be best in communicating your message. This is one of my favorite steps in the process. I get to learn about your brand, your goals, and help you come up with a spectacular vision for the piece. Most clients come into this call with a general idea of what type of video they want, then turn to the experts for further guidance on how to get it done.
Some clients, however, come to us knowing exactly what they want. Which isn't all bad. Too much ambiguity can lead to miscommunication and a video that isn’t aligned with what you want. However, coming in with little-to-no flexibility on how the video should be produced can actually hurt your final product, and your budget.
View your producer as a resource, not an order taker
If you knew exactly what you want for a video and how to get there, why are you hiring a video production agency? Sure, you need to get the job done, but I hope you're also hiring them to get the job done right.
It’s a creative producer's job to help you make the best video possible, and through their industry experience, they have a much greater sense of what video treatment is going to have the most impact, and what’s not going to work. Think of it this way – you wouldn’t go to a restaurant, order from the menu and then go back into the kitchen to tell the cook how to make it – would you? My guess is that you would trust that the chef knows how to prepare the dish he’s made hundreds of times.
When it comes to the creative vision and stylistic treatment for your video, we encourage you to lean on your producer for creative insight. Your ideas are probably great! But producers are going to know the best way to execute that vision. Trust is hugely important in the production process, and synergy with the creative producer from that very first pre-production call will go a long way in your final video. That’s not to say we have too much pride in ownership, either. We can be flexible, too. We aren’t here to create roadblocks, we’re here to help you!
I love when clients start the conversation with, “Here’s what we had in mind. What do you think is best?”
Examples are great! But they’re not one-size-fits-all
Every day we’re consuming video content, so it’s no surprise clients often come with inspiration. We are constantly getting links with the comment, “We want something just like this!” And, we love that! It’s fun and helpful for our team to see what interests you, and it gives us greater insight into the stylistic approach you’re aiming for. But, you’ve got to be realistic.
Sending us a multi-million-dollar commercial that they played at ‘The Big Game’ as a benchmark when your budget is a fraction of the cost, means you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak. It’s a great source of inspiration, but let’s work together to come up with a solution that’s within scope, and meets your goals.
There are countless ways to approach a video concept, and a lot to consider when deciding what’s best for your message. Do you have the right footage opportunities? Engaging speakers? Enough room in the budget for animation if you’re lacking other visuals? The producer can ask all of this, and provide a recommended solution.
Trust your producer in the field
You and your producer have landed on a creative vision, now, it’s showtime! The video shoot is where we’ll capture all of the necessary footage needed to create your video, including interviews if the video calls for them. In most cases, that same video producer is going to be your field producer on-site who will direct the production crew at the shoot to ensure they’re capturing the content needed to bring your vision to life.
In order to capture what’s needed efficiently, it’s important that you trust your field producer at the shoot. They are your eyes and ears on set, and chances are if you notice something doesn't look quite right, they’re ten steps ahead of you. After all, it's the producer’s job.
Trust is also critical in the interviewing process (if your video calls for them). When field producers conduct interviews, they are asking questions in a strategic way to get the response you’re looking for. If we’re hoping to capture emotion, a lot of times that means asking a lot of warm-up questions.
I once had a client ask mid-interview, “Can you tell them to laugh?” Put it this way, if I asked you to laugh on cue, could you? Kind of awkward, right? The field producer’s main objective in conducting interviews is to help the interview subjects feel comfortable by creating a safe space for them to express themselves freely. That could mean chatting about funny topics for a laugh, or showing compassion if it’s a difficult conversation. Emotions take patience to capture, and if you’re working with a seasoned video producer, they've got a few tricks up their sleeve to make sure it shows in the footage.
It’s also important to note that most video shoots aren’t live. We’re going to ask a lot of “throwaway” interview questions to get the ball rolling, knowing a good chunk of what’s captured won’t make the final cut. We may shoot for a full day for a one-minute video, if needed. In the end, the producer will make sure you don’t leave empty-handed.
A good producer should also be checking in with you throughout the shoot to discuss how things are going, and to make sure they’re not missing anything. (Because they’re human, too!) So don’t worry, you’ll still have an active role in the process.
Listening to a producer’s advice can cut costs
Producers are problem-solvers and if you’ve got your heart set on something, we’ll do our best to make it happen. That being said, not every answer is going to be “yes.”
If your production crew advises against something, it’s because they’re looking out for you and they want to save you time on unnecessary revisions. Believe it or not, producers hate “I told ya’ so” moments. It creates more work for us and eats into your budget.
If the producer is in constant communication with the client on messaging, and the overall look and feel of their video, there should be little surprises and setbacks. That saves you money, and everyone a headache.
If you’re ready to add to your video content library, I encourage you to leverage the knowledge of a creative video producer. They’re going to hold your hand every step of the way, and will make sure that the video you get in the end, is exactly what you want.
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