How to interview a video production company

How to interview a video production company

Suggested questions for finding your next great video production partner.

Last week, I was on the phone with a potential client who shared that they’ve never created a video before. Quite openly, she asked, “What should I be asking?” I think it is a really self-aware thing to ask, and here are five critical questions to get you pointed in the right direction.

First, let me point out that the guidance I am about to provide is based on what our most successful interactions have been like, with the types of impact-aware, human-driven projects in which we excel. If you focus on different performance indicators, your results may vary. But these questions will let a prospective partner know you’ve done a little homework.

  1. How will the story/script be developed? Some production companies put it on the client to provide a script. To us, that is essentially like you saying, “Except for the gear, we could do this ourselves.” To us, the craft isn’t in the gear. It’s in the creative approach a production may bring and in how well they get the video to engage with your target audience.Our perspective is that you know your topic better than anyone, and we know how to capture and market it better than anyone. A good production company should be prepared to meet you at least halfway. It is the thought, perspective, experience, and anticipatory care that a partner can bring to the table that makes them a good partner and not additional baggage. They should allow you to focus on what you do best with them faithfully and honestly on your side.
  2. What kind of review points do I get? You want to know your production team has a predictable process for when, how and what purpose each review point serves. If this is unknown or loosely defined, your project may go off the rails and you won’t know it until late in the process. In addition to being costly, this is extremely stressful.For example, we have several pre-defined review points during pre-production planning and post-production editing. This iterative creation process keeps you informed and in touch with the project at each step. When we’ve done our job well, the final product is almost anticlimactic, because we’ve done such a good job of helping you visualize it along the way. We can all both picture what the piece will become and agree that it meets the goals that brought you to us in the first place. Knowing when you will receive review points and what to watch for and comment on at each one allows you to relax and remain confident about the project.
  3. Who will we communicate with? In other words, you want to know who to talk to when you have a question and if you’ll have to play the phone game to get the job done. This may be a project manager, an account manager, a member of the production team or another specialist. For us, we put you right in touch with the producer caring for your project. You meet him or her at the kick-off meeting, and they are your BFF for the rest of the project.A high degree of personal communication with the creative person caring for your project reduces confusion, reduces lag time and increases your ability to have as much interaction with the process as you need. When you come back to us for similar work, chances are very high that you will get paired with that same person, so you have a relationship and familiar shorthand with the lead person on your work.
  4. How will I know what’s coming up next? Again, I must assume you are busy in your day-to-day duties and don’t want to be surprised by a last minute request for access, information, and review, etc. Choose someone who respects your schedule and lets you know the production schedule and checkpoints well in advance. They should be upfront about any delays or rescheduling that may be necessary.As an example of good, clear communication, we make videos like the one below so you can visualize what we are describing.

5. Have you made videos like this in the past? This is a reasonable check of experience and your potential partner should be able to share demos or samples that satisfy you. They may not (and some would argue should not) be exact duplicates of what you want to create, but they should be able to establish the quality, creativity and basic watchability you want.

We are challenged every week to create new materials for clients and we succeed because we have the right foundational skills. Then we push ourselves another 10% to acquire the next trick, technique, and tool in our craft. We’ve got over 800 video samples of our work here: https://vimeo.com/digitalbard