HOW TO FIND A GREAT VIDEO PRODUCER
You can’t help but to feel anxious as you walk out of the staff meeting. The Executive Director has decided to invest in videos to tell the organization’s story. The staff thinks it’s a great idea. The objectives and even a budget have been set. As the Communications Manager, it is up to you to find the Video Producer. But you have no idea where to start.
Before you get out there and are exposed to the array of personalities in the video producer world, read this guide to finding a great producer.
In my eight years as an independent producer, many clients have come to me after they have had some pretty atrocious experiences with other producers. Others have sat in front of me with price as their only criteria for vetting a producer. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to the aforementioned atrocities.
Like anything else, making good choices regarding video producers comes from being educated and generally prepared. I’m going to help you be prepared.
Here are my 7 tips for finding a great video producer.
1. PLAIN ENGLISH PLEASE.
There is a whole dictionary-worth of lingo in video production. But a conscious Video Producer will understand that using too much (or any) industry jargon can at best annoy a client. At worst, it can intimidate a client.
You would hope that a professional would respect you enough to use plain English to describe their ideas. But run away quickly if they have trouble explaining it in plain language. Perhaps it is a sign they don’t totally understand the concept themselves.
TIP: Have them clarify any statements they make that contain industry jargon. They are the video experts, not you. Don’t be shy.
2. HOW DOES THE MAGIC HAPPEN?
You want to know how it all happens. It is good practice for Video Producers to be transparent about the process. There really are no “secret sauce” moments in video production. But there are several different approaches a producer can take. The approach is really what will help you make your decision. This is part of what sets one producer apart from others.
Additionally, there are the general stages of production. You will want to clearly understand what are each party’s responsibilities in each stage. Do not glaze over this. One of the ways organizations get screwed is when producers lay a large load of the process onto them. You want a producer that takes responsibility for the process.
TIP: Ask about how their approach differentiates them from other producers. Get an understanding of what responsibilities your organization will have throughout the process.
3. NO ONE-MAN BAND!
You have learned of the Video Producer’s approach. And you realize that he’s not looking to hire a crew. Uh oh.
Sometimes the “one-man band” can work, but it is an inconsistent and foolish method of working. The division of labor on film sets has been a mainstay for a reason. It is a ton of detail to manage for one person.
Do not be fooled by the low price, or the idea that this is an expert that can handle it. An expert would hire at least one person to help.
TIP: Discuss how they plan to execute all of their responsibilities without someone assisting them.
4. EVERYONE JUST WANTS TO BE UNDERSTOOD.
You should definitely go into your consultation with your goals in mind. Write down one major concept you want to communicate in the video. Then write two to three achievements or stories that buttress this concept. Beyond discussing the process, this should be the majority of your conversation.
A good Video Producer will be engaged in this conversation. She should be trying to understand as much about your mission and work as possible. This will help her to produce a better quality video.
TIP: If presenting your goals and concepts do not generate discussion from the producer, ask how they think they can communicate the organization’s mission/goals in the video. A deer-in-the-headlights look may signal someone who is ONLY concerned about visuals.
5. A THOUGHTFUL MARKETER.
Your Video Producer does not have to be a super-marketer to be good at their job. But it is important for him to understand how to engage a target market through their craft of storytelling.
Your Video Producer should be up to date on contemporary aesthetics. He should know how to drive a video towards a call to action. He should have the basic elements of a promotional video in mind (who are you; what do you do; and why do you do it). And he should be aware of your short-term and long-term application of the video.
TIP: Make sure you talk about whom you are trying to engage. Then discuss how this video will achieve those goals.
6. STAND BY ME.
The basics are that the Video Producer will have at least a couple of years of experience working independently. She will be able to provide work samples as well. Just as importantly, though, take the time to understand their revision policy and how else they stand by their work. You want a producer that will support you after the video has been completed and they have cashed their check.
TIP: The absolute best way to confirm that a producer (and any contractor) is a pro and serious about their business is to ask for two references.
7. TRANSPARENT & REASONABLE PRICING.
Talented and professional crews represent hefty day rates. Professional gear cost an arm and a leg. And it takes a great amount of pricey effort to compete in the industry and stay educated. A Video Producer that confidently states his price is a good sign. Of course this assumes he meets all of the requirements mentioned above. In this case, you should feel comfortable that he has honestly made a cost analysis to deliver his services.
Be skeptical if the producer is too cheap to be real. The price should be congruent with the value he provides. Also be skeptical if there are hidden, or several variable, charges.
TIP: Ask for a proposal that details the deliverables and payment schedule (never pay more than 50% upfront). Then draft or request a contract with all of the details.
Well, there you have it. This is how you can vet Video Producers and find a great one. Happy shopping!