I've spoken to a number of companies who have turned down video in the past because of bad experiences. Many because the film company had an imbalance between the commercial and operational aspects of it's business; and so couldn't deliver what the client needed. To help you on your way to choosing the right film production company, I've listed a few things you need to ask and/or look out for:
• Ability to market themselves - is it up to your standards? Or could it use some work?
• Offerings in terms of marketing for you - are they just film production? Or can they offer marketing through video advice that's relevant to your business? What qualifies their marketing advice?
• Added extras such as PR and exposure of new video - can they offer this? Are they as switched on to NEW media and exploiting all avenues of advertising as much as you need them to be?
• Directing the film, rather than just filming - so often I meet other corporate filmmakers who are baffled when we state we have corporate film directors! We are baffled that they're baffled! Any big movie or TV commercial has a director - why should yours be any different? Isn't your company worth the best?
• The people involved in the video production - is there a balance between commercial, operational and creative? This doesn't necessarily mean you need lots of people, just a good indication (along with case studies or testimonials) that those involved can deliver ALL elements. Where were they trained? Where have they gained their experience in filmmaking?
• The project management element - producing a video is a big deal! It's not just about deciding what you want and getting it filmed. There's a lot more to it. Can your production company manage the project from start to finish? Can they fully produce a film? Don't be afraid to ask for proof.
• A variety of work that can be shown in addition to the snippets you see on their website/showreel (a variety meaning a variety of similar videos to yours as well as a variety of videos that show a diverse range of skillset from the production team). A good company won't give it all away on their site, they'll give enough away to allure your phone call/Email contact but will always be keen to share their full portfolio at a first/second consultation.
• Are they video-makers or true filmmakers? What are their reasons for wanting to produce films? What experience have they got to be listed as experts or gurus in this field.
• Quality – find a video you want. It maybe on YouTube, it maybe on your idol company's website. Regardless of cost, this is the video that will provide inspiration for yours. Can your chosen production company realistically deliver? Don't compromise that aim of video production because you're in doubt for any reason.
• Budget – set a budget before meeting a videographer. How much is this video worth to your business. How much business does it need to generate. What's the minimum? Are you expecting enough of your video?
• Understanding of a film set – I have met so many filmmakers who don't understand the importance of good lighting, of a good director or gaffer – you don't need to understand these terms, but you need to understand that your production company does!
• How will the production business understand your business – do they carry out a full consultation and reccy, along with costume, prop and script consultations? If not why not? Your business is worth the full works, so demand it!
• Are they outsourcing or using contractors for any part of your service? How much of the service is being outsourced and why?
Other questions to ask:
• How many crew members are you to expect for your money and why are they needed?
• How long will the filming take? How long will the edit take? Can you edit with your production company in their studios?
• How will your video be displayed or hosted, if online? YouTube is great, and cheap, which fits right in with some first time users of corporate video. A good commercial videography company will NEVER suggest social media sites such as Vimeo as they have a strict "anti-commercial" policy.
• Have you a choice of stock music and tailor-made music? Has the company got access/do they employ a musician/composer?
• Can they provide a list of options/packages that are tailor-made to your needs? (Not just "off the rack" price lists.)
One last thought...
A badly produced video can prove detrimental to your business. Just today I was looking for a new forward thinking supplier for our business, and I relied on the way that their website helped me understand them to enable me to produce a shortlist. One website was fantastically well presented, but the image was destroyed by a badly produced video that can only be described as a "home video" done on a mini HD camera hosted on YouTube. This was the deciding factor for me, could it be the deciding factor for your prospective clients?