Your marketing budget is precious. There are a number of ways to tell your production is going to be a flatout failure before it even occurs. Here are seven things to look out for during the pre-production process. If you see any of these, run for the hills.
When it comes to corporate video production, there are a million of us producers out there, but many of us are easier to work with than others. There are some like me who are laid back types who want to hear your thoughts on the project and will ensure that your ideas are processed effectively and are reflected in the final product, and there are those who don't. There are also those who have an entire company backing them. They employ people who support the creative development of ads and the video production process.
The black turtleneck is a euphamism for the producer who thinks he's Speilburg and, thusly, God's greatest gift to filmmaking. This is the guy who's going to make his own film and you're either going to love it or hate it.
1. All Black
If your producer shows up wearing all black, beware. All black is a thing that a lot of "serious" production people wil wear, but don't be fooled. Wearing black on the day of production is a thing that is reasonable, but everyday blackwear is just assinine. Our team never wears all black, because it's unnessary unless you're shooting with a lot of moving pieces in a dark environment where you can hide in light fallout....which is probably not during your production.
2. The Unclean
A respectable production company will consist of a number of bathed and polite individuals. If your producer hasn't bathed in a week, he's probably going to let you down. If he can't take the time to bathe him or herself, chances are, he's not going to take the time to get it right for you.
It's embarrasing being a member of an industry where planning comes in third behind ego and basic cleanliness.
A real production company is going to go to great lengths to ensure that your production is meticulously planned so that every minute of the shoot day is responsibly used. Proper planning can help eliminate the need for more days of shooting and ultimately save you money in the longterm.
4. The One Man Band
Beware of "The One Man Band". While it is possible for one person to be really good at every individual aspect of production, it's incredibly difficult to do all of them well at the same time. Think of "The One Man Band" in the traditional sense. Sure, he has all of the necessary percussion to make a great song, but only two hands. A classic quandry, video production is no exception. TOMB (fitting accronym, right?) often bites off more than he or she can chew. The resulting outcome is generally bad communcation and a very delayed product.
5. Go on a DP Date
That's not a euphamism. If you don't like the guy who's going to be filming your ad, it's going to be a challenge getting through the process. The production process is generally longer than most people think, so going through it with someone you don't mind being around is generally helpful. I wouldn't suggest actually going on a date, but work with someone you can have a solid conversation with. A lot of us creative-types can be awkward and weird sometimes, so don't let that get in the way. Instead, focus on that person's ability to communicate. Our business is all about telling a story, so someone who can't tell a joke is probably not going to be able to effectively tell your story.
6. Gear is Good
Before signing anything, arrange to go to your producer's place of business. If they don't have a place of business, then beware. The least they can do is have a place to bring clients and make them comfortable. Think about the last time you went on a date with a homeless person. The question, "Hey baby, wanna come back to my tent?" Has only ever worked for me once, and that was a long time ago in college. A studio is way more than just a place to host clients. It's a place for the company to store its belongings. Another red-flag is when a production company doesn't have any of its own belongings. That means they have to rent. Renting costs money. Renting means the budget inflates. Renting means you are working with someone who doesn't know the gear, and that means that you wind up with a subpar product. Do yourself a favor and go see where they keep the goods. If you're visiting a Boston video production comapany, worst case scenario, you wind up with a Dunkin's and an hour out of the office.
Check out the production company's portfolio. If they haven't posted a rock solid video in a while, it could mean that they are in a funk. Choose a company that has some momentum. They're going to want to keep the hot streak going for as long as they can. If they have a hot streak going, then they have something good going on inside of their office. Take advantage of that.
There are a gazillion things that you should be looking for in a production company. These are just a few. The reality is that you're entrusting someone else with something really important - your companys well being, ROI and image. Working on a video should be a treat, not a chore, so work with someone you like and who knows how deliver a classy product that will help you grow.