So you want to produce some video content and it has been (wisely) decided that you should hire a professional video company to do it. What happens next?
There are lots of companies out there who will all say they can do exactly what you want, but in reality, they all have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. So how do you decide which production company is the best one for you?
Here’s a list of simple questions to ask yourself (or them) to make sure you have no regrets down the line.
1. What is their specialism?
This is not as obvious as you might think. Some production companies specialise in a particular kind of video. While others don’t even specialise in video at all. Dig a little deeper and you may find they are the production wing of a marketing company, or that they combine web design, SEO, advertising, graphic design, print, I.T or something else. Maybe this is a big win for you, if you happen to need another service. But if you want expert knowledge, and ways to make your budget go further, you’ll almost always only get that from a specialist video company. They have more skills, more contacts, and more passion.
If you just want top quality production, you want a partner that just produces awesome videos.
2. Are they creative?
The right creative solution can add real value to your campaign, from the way scripts are written to the eye directors have for framing each shot. Some production companies aren’t creative and don’t try to be. They have an efficient cookie cutter approach that gets things shot quickly and cheaply. Others bring something fresh to every project, and think carefully about what your audience will respond to. The question is, which one feels right for you and your project.
3. What’s in their portfolio?
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. A good video company will have a good showreel, and a great video company will have a great one. If a portfolio falls short of the quality you are expecting, don’t rely on assurances that yours will be better.
It’s also important to see if they have ever shot the kind of video that you want before. If they clearly specialise in live action but you want an animation, you may find they are learning on your job. Similarly, if you want a specific kind of animation and are speaking to a particular audience, you ideally want a company who can show they have previous experience delivering that kind of work with those kinds of messages. It’s not essential, but it can ensure you get exactly what you want, not a pale imitation.
4. Do they fit your culture?
It’s worth taking some time to think about the people that you will be working with. Do they share your company values? Are they people that you can see yourself working well with? If you have a good working relationship, then the process of creating the video you want will be much smoother, and your shared company values will be visible in the final product. What’s more, if the film is successful then you may want to keep working with them for years to come. It can pay dividends to lay the best possible foundations from day one.
5. Do they challenge your ideas?
The best videos come from collaboration, but there’s more to collaboration than just saying ‘yes’. Anyone who does that and never pushes back doesn’t have your best interests at heart. That positive creative friction is what stress tests ideas and makes sure that the end result is as strong as it can possibly be.
Of course, that’s not an excuse for uncooperative or difficult behaviour. But you should embrace the kind of experienced push-back that a good production company will give you. They will have enough confidence in their own work to challenge and develop your ideas into something bigger and better than you could ever conceive on your own.
6. Who will be involved in the actual production?
When you meet with a prospective production company, it’s essential to ask who will be on the team working on your production. Are they senior, middleweight or junior? Do they have experience working with clients like you or on productions like yours? What work has this team created together before? Is there a chance the personnel could change halfway through? You want to feel completely reassured that the people you are working with are the right ones, and that you’ll be able to build a strong working relationship.
7. Do they fit your budget?
It’s important to know your budget and be open about it with each production company you approach. Being coy or vague rarely ends well, and it’s much easier for companies to optimise your planned spend if you are transparent.
Budget is no doubt very important to you, so it is crucial to establish early on whether a company is in or out of your league. Working with someone used to bigger or smaller budgets than yours can lead to inefficiencies.
If you ask for a budget breakdown you’ll be able to see how they add value (such as using in house editing resources) and they should ideally be able to show you similar work they have produced for a similar budget, so you know exactly what you are getting for your money. You can always ask for additional services and extras to be shown separately, as long as they feel like a safe bet.
8. Are they organised?
Producing a video isn’t just a creative process – it requires excellent planning and organisation too. In video production, poor planning and organisation can be disastrous, so always go for a company that can demonstrate its organisational skills and past experiences. Good planning will undoubtedly help the budget go further as the production will run smoothly, so it all ends up on the screen.
9. Do they know your industry?
A production company hungry for your business may have made great video content for impressive clients, and come across well in meetings, but do they know your sector and your audience? If they can’t demonstrate an intuitive understanding of the way your industry works (or at least show willingness to learn), then you probably need to reconsider who you are working with.
10. Once you’ve found the perfect partner, cherish them
In our experience, the best relationships are the ones when you end up being a creative partner to the organisation. These relationships take time but are built on trust and mutual understanding. They quickly understand your brief requirements and the typical obstacles your organisation might face, solving problems before they become problems, to make the whole process seamless and easy.
Of course, this familiarity shouldn’t breed complacency. A good production company will ask new questions every year, and request feedback on their most and least successful projects. They should understand the ways you are changing as a business and look for ways to change in line with that. It’s a two-way street and both of you should value the other’s criticism and praise.
So there you have it…
Choosing the right video production company will save you time, money and frustration, so it is absolutely worth asking these questions – and plenty more besides. One project with the right company could develop into a long and fruitful creative relationship, producing films and animations that the business values and that your audience love, and could even shape the growth of your business.
Posted on 5th May 2021