What else can you show me apart from your showreel?
Don’t make any decisions based on a showreel – ask to see real world examples of finished production pieces for real clients. A showreel is made of nothing more than numerous selected bits of video stitched together to an emotionally charged soundtrack.
A showreel is purely designed to look great, (It may even include bought in stock video footage that the company didn’t even shoot themselves) but it doesn’t tell you a thing about the production company’s ability to make a complete, coherent video that presents a meaningful narrative and truly connects with your audience.
Can you show me work in a variety of sectors?
Often, fresh exciting ideas can come from a cross fertilisation of unrelated industry sectors. See if the video company are quick to spot transferable themes and techniques from the work they’ve done in other sectors – this might be a video structure, a camera technique or editing style that might particularly suit your requirements. The wider the variety of sectors the company has already worked in, the more adaptable, original and targeted they will be in addressing your brief.
It is vital that any production company understands you and your industry sector in order to create a video that chimes with your audience. If the people you are talking to have had direct experience of your industry – great, they should already have a broad understanding and some relevant thoughts to bring to the project right from the start – this will of course save some time in your collaboration. If not – do you get the impression they are really willing to spend time doing their research and listening to you in order to get the deep understanding of your sector that they are going to need?
How many edits are included in your quotation?
As with many creative processes, editing your video will be an iterative process. You can’t expect your chosen production company to hit the spot 100% on the first edit – but you can expect them to get close. With careful planning, most productions can be within 90% of target on the first edit, and successive edits will steer your video towards the final cut.
It is reasonable, therefore, to assume that a number of edits are included within your quoted price. If this isn’t the case, ask why not – you don’t want hidden charges to crawl out of the woodwork once editing is under-way.
Can you outline your production process?
If pre-production and planning is handled correctly, you can expect to be delighted with the final outcome. Your producer should involve and consult you in the planning process, storyboard and script development – and if these elements are nailed before filming begins, you can be confident that production will go well.
Ask to see example scripts, programme treatments and storyboards from past projects and assess how thorough the production company is in preparing for shooting. You may also want to see a typical shot list and production schedule – and this will all help you to assess which production company is right for you. Ask yourself ‘Are they on top of their game?’ If you have any doubts, go with your gut instinct and move on.
Expect too, to be consulted during post-production. You should have a hand in the final shaping of your video. This can either be done remotely or better still by sitting alongside the editor so you can explore alternative ideas, fine tune the final cut and be familiar with your entire library of video material – this could come in handy at a later date.
What evidence do you have that your videos are effective?
A good production company will be able to highlight measurable statistics from past work which verifies the effectiveness of their work. These might include figures such as incremental sales growth, or fundraising targets achieved through video. Ask for this evidence.
Successful productions lead to repeat commissions from clients and long-term business relationships. So ask to see their portfolio of work – and look for examples of a whole series of videos for some clients. If all you see is one off projects, ask yourself why this might be the case.
How about back up, archive and retrieval?
Let’s say you’ve taken important steps to select a video production company that is right for you and you are delighted with the final film. Great – but if you are to realise the long-term benefits of your investment, you need to know that you can phone up at any time and ask for a fresh copy, perhaps in a new format or make a fresh edit for updating purposes.
For this to happen, you need to be sure that your valuable material is backed up, catalogued in detail, stored in three separate places and edit-ready – so when you need that refreshed edit for your presentation in Germany in two days’ time – that’s all possible, without fuss and for a sensible cost.
How far can you help after my video has been produced?
These days it’s not enough for a video production company to just hand you your video after its completion and leave it there. In many ways that’s just the beginning of the life of your video.
With the huge proliferation of technical options in distributing your video, you need a production company who can advise and guide you through the myriad of technical choices. Find out if your prospective video producers can give you support in the following areas:
- Choosing a video hosting platform
- Video encoding for any device or platform
- Managing your video on YouTube and other Social Media
- Setting up a video podcast
- DVD and USB replication
- The technical requirements for high quality large audience event screenings and exhibition screenings
- How to manage your Video Search Engine Optimisation (VSEO)
Choosing the right video production company for you may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if you haven’t commissioned video before. But by asking a few straightforward questions, you can minimise the risk of disappointment.
With careful selection of your video production company, you will have every reason to expect a great outcome.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of questions to ask, but will provide you with plenty of evidence to make a sound judgement and hopefully, result in a fulfilling long-term business partnership.
Good luck – and may all your films have sequels.
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