So You Want to Make a Video?

Video production as a way to promote and market a company’s products and services has become mainstream in today’s rapidly changing business sector. Companies are no longer thinking of video production as an option to promote their business in conjunction with or as an add-on to a print or digital marketing campaign. Video is now a must for any organization wanting to successfully promote and sell their products and services to both their current customers and to new markets. The affordability and access to better, less expensive video technology is allowing smaller companies to create high quality and engaging content that is creative and effective in getting their message to the market. However while the market pressures and opportunities to produce video are increasing, many companies are not taking the time to understand how video can be used most effectively for their particular product or service. 

Below we have outlined four key factors you should think about when you decide to take the leap of producing a video. 

1. What is the goal of your video? 

This is the very first question you should ask yourself when producing your video. You need to have a goal and know what you want to achieve in the video to ensure that when it’s completed you are happy with the results. Making a video for the sole purpose of creating content with no specific objective is probably not the best way to start your project. You should make sure that you know what exactly you want to say, who you want to target and what demographic you want to reach. Think about your final audience – ask yourself who is going to be viewing this video and how the goal you have set for making this video can be achieved with this audience. Your answers to these questions will generate many creative ideas that are relevant to your audience and give you a clearer direction about how to proceed.

2. Know your idea from the start and stick to it. 

We cannot stress this enough. So many times we have spoken with people who wanted to make a video for their business or product who do not have a clear idea of what they want to do going into the process. When you produce a video you should have a clear idea of what you want to do to achieve your video goal. This does not mean that you can't adapt once you start or not know exactly what shots you will need to get during a shoot day. If you covering an event, for example, you should always be open to things that might happen at that event that you couldn't predict. Things such as a great speech, people dancing, etc. shouldn't be ignored because they weren’t what you thought you would film originally, but the idea behind the video should always stay the same. Once you have shot the video you can seldom backtrack and decide that you want to promote someone else or another product. Sometimes that is not possible, and if it is, your video can start to get very expensive and time consuming with cost overruns and production delays. Our best projects are those where clients know exactly what they want and we are able to give them that product. 

What is your budget?

Budget is a huge concern for both the people who are producing the video and those they hire to create their idea. Basically any production company can cater to a specific budget but it is up to the production company to let the client know that not every idea is possible for the particular budget range they may have. As a client, it is always good to go to a production company with your idea and a range of what you are willing to pay so that the production company can help create your video as close to as your original idea as possible within your budget. It is also good for you as the client to go into every project willing to compromise on your idea if it cannot be fully achieved with the budget you have available. With enough money a production company can produce anything, but if you are expecting a video with a ten thousand dollar budget to look like video with a hundred thousand dollar budget you will disappointed with the final result. If you are wondering why your idea isn't possible for the amount of money you have don't be afraid to ask. Any good production company can cross reference your examples and break down all of your costs in their quote. As long as you know this going in, you and the production company will be happy with your results.   

4. What format should I shoot it in? 

We touched on this topic briefly in one of our earlier blog posts. With the access to new technology we are hearing a growing number of buzzwords going around the consumer and client landscape. Words such as 4K or UHD (Ultra HD) are now becoming standard in commercial video industry and we certainly don't recommend not shooting in this format. The footage you produce is absolutely beautiful and you have access to a much wider dynamic range of lighting and colour grading but sometimes its not needed. Think about where your video is going to live. Is this video for the web? What is the subject matter of this video? If you are shooting something that is going no farther than someone watching it on a mobile phone then 4K and UHD quality might not be necessary and the image quality you get out of a camera like a Canon 5D Mark III or 7D Mark II might be all that you need. Also another thing, especially for smaller production companies to keep in mind, is that with your higher formats you are going to need more processing speed to be able to edit this footage. You don't want to get into a situation where you shoot a large amount of footage and then can't edit it based on your company’s current editing set up.   

These are four simple questions that every client company should ask before they choose video production as the way to promote their product or service. As long as you take these points into consideration your experience of making a video should be a smooth one.   

Check out the Gallery Below to see some of our Behind the Scenes shots on some of our recent shoots. 

The PEN: Brad Dworkin - Director

I met Brad a couple years ago at an Oscar party through a mutual friend of ours. We weren’t able to speak too much at that time but what I could tell instantly was Brad’s passion for film and his love of the industry. Since then Brad has become a good friend and I have seen him take that passion and apply to a successful directing career. HIs attention detail, hard work and general love of what he does makes it easy to see why he is so successful. I know Brad is just in the beginning part of his career and you will see much more work by him over many years to come. Enjoy. 

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to start an article by quoting a movie. Now that we’ve sorted that, let’s talk about what I do and how it happened. I’m a director and I work mostly in commercials in Toronto. My wife is a teacher, so I sometimes tell people that she shapes young minds while I try to sell them stuff they don’t need. I figure between the two of us, we break even. Net zero gain. My path to directing was through post-production, something I’d recommend to anyone.

First of all, I did graduate from film school and it introduced me to some great and talented people that I continue to work with today. But I’ve never been in a position where anyone has asked about my degree. What film school did offer was a chance to make bad films in a consequence-free environment. You can put that terrible student film in a box and no one in the industry ever has to know it existed. These were mistakes I needed to make to get to where I am today, but I didn’t have to worry about it sullying my reputation. More important than any education is your reel. Get your reel together and keep it updated. And don’t ever lie and include work you haven’t done. The industry is small and most of us, when we’re not making ads, are watching them online (It’s fun to put Youtube on a timesheet).

After film school I worked as a freelancer on a few shows. (Including one that aired in Pizza Pizza restaurants exclusively #humblebrag) until I landed my first full time gig at an advertising agency, as an in-house editor. This is a great job for any director because suddenly you can watch all the raw footage of the top commercial directors in North America. You see what they did right and more importantly, what they did wrong. You learn which directors shoot for the edit and which ones just roll off the entire card with 30 minute takes and then find the concept in post.

While working at my second agency editing job, I started to get requests to shoot extra content for the agency when they didn’t have the budget to hire someone externally. I jumped at the chance and ended up producing a lot of content for national brands. My big break was a spot for Boston Pizza. It was intended to be a web spot only but did so well, it ended up airing in broadcast as a 60 second spot during the US Open (the golf one). This rounded out my demo reel nicely and led me to where I am now. Last year I signed with a commercial production company called Frank Content. They represent me for commercial work across Canada. I’m in my first year of full-time commercial directing, but because of my past experiences I didn’t have to start from scratch to cultivate new creative relationships.I already know a lot of people in the industry through my time working in-house.

The best thing about working full time as a director is that my time can be very flexible. Sometimes I’m in the edit suite every night or in pre-pro meetings all day long. Then sometimes I have time to myself to work on personal development, my own short film projects, or just binge watch House of Cards. The trick is careful financial planning to make sure you’re still good during those times when work is slow.  It’s a balancing act, especially in that first year, but so far I’ve been making it work.

There’s a lot of advice given to young filmmakers and a lot of it is contradictory. There isn’t one piece of advice I can offer that will be the sure path. The best thing I can say is this. Don’t be precious. If you are waiting until your reel is absolutely perfect before putting yourself out there, you never will. There is never a time that there isn’t a risk in going after your dreams. Just send your work out and see what the universe sends back.

Brad Dworkin is represented for commercial work in Canada by Frank Content.

You can also follow him here and here

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The PEN: Sean Wainsteim - Writer/Director

When the topic of talented writers/directors comes up, Sean’s name is always mentioned. I have worked with Sean in the past, and his leadership, dedication, and calmness on set inspires and influences his crew to produce great work. When people work with Sean, they know that the end result will be something they will be proud to showcase. His amicable personality means he is a pleasure to work with, and I cannot recommend him more not only as a writer/director, but also as a good person. Look out for more of Sean’s work in the future and check out what he has to say about the film/commercial industry below. Enjoy.  Sean is represented in Canada by OPC / Family Style.

I’m Sean and I’m a filmmaker (“Hi, Sean”). I love film. I love watching film and I’m absolutely the happiest and most confident when I’m on a film set. Unless I’m making an omelette. I make a damn good omelette. 

A bit about me. My grandparents fled from Eastern Europe before, during and after the war. My father was born in Brazil. My mother was born in France. They met in Israel. I was born in Canada. My biggest fear as a boy in 1980s suburban Toronto was Nazi stormtroopers. I went to art school to make interactive robot art that chased people around galleries. By the time I graduated art school I was making films. A few years later I founded an award-winning boutique design and animation studio. Years later I left my company while it was a rising success. I survived an airplane crash in New Zealand. I filmed my airplane crash. I missed filming elephants at a market in India because the cameras were three hours late. I lost a Juno to Drake. I’ve done many things though it often feels as if I haven’t achieved anything at all. Everything in my life has made me the filmmaker I am today. I’m only beginning to understand that.

It’s really difficult to narrow down advice for aspiring filmmakers. A filmmaker’s job description is very broad job and can include a psychologist’s insight, a poet’s heart, a technical scientist’s mind, the calm patience of a monk, the humour of a Bill Murray™, the quick response of an athlete and the clarity of a traffic signal. Conversely, a filmmaker can encompass none of those things and still be a success. I know filmmakers from all backgrounds and temperament. Every filmmaker took a different path to get where they are. Every filmmaker feels like they’re still on their journey. This is empowering. Anyone can be a filmmaker. Being a good and true filmmaker is the hard part.

Let’s assume you want to be a filmmaker who tells stories or communicatessomething. Here are four simple things to keep in mind. These are things you already know. If you practice these ideas fully, you’ll attract like minded collaborators. Collaborating with individuals who are all after the same goal is invaluable. It’s the fucking best.


It’s probably the easiest thing to say and the hardest to do. Being honest with yourself is difficult enough. Being honest in your work exposes you to the world. It’s a brave move but it’s the most important thing there is. Understanding deeply and truly what it is you want to say, to whom and why is not easy. Knowing your strengths & weaknesses and likes & dislikes is key. Sometimes making a film is the process towards discovering and revealing that honesty. Try to do work from an honest place. That’s not to say that every film should be a personal story. Die Hard is as honest a film as Barton Fink. It’s about communicating something from a truthful place within (to others and yourself). You should have a reason for doing every project and honestly connect with that reason. That reason could be that you’re trying to recreate a feeling you had when you were six, that you really want to shoot with a crane because it’s a totally new shot or you really need the money to pay rent. As long as you recognize the honest reason and acknowledge it, that’s a great place to start.


If you’re starting from an honest place, it’s easier to give a shit. Care about each project you work on. Care about each shot you work on. Care about every part of every shot. The framing. The wardrobe. The lighting. The acting. How it fits into the whole. Care about it all. If you’re starting from an honest place there’s always a way in to caring.


Being honest and giving a shit means you’ll want to work hard. The harder you work, the better your work will be. Do the time. Rewrite that script. Do it again. Prep as much as possible. But…!

One of the best pieces of advice I got was from my friend Jean. Years ago she said “Sean, you always work hard, but you don’t always work smart”. She was right. It’s important to step back from your hard work. To see the forest AND the trees. Perhaps you’ll realize that you’re not in a forest at all. Work hard but don’t get so caught up in what you’re doing that you neglect to look at the project from multiple angles and from fresh perspectives. Lift your head up and look around every now and then. 


Make stuff. Make stuff that matters. Make stuff that doesn’t. Care about all of it. Talk and planning are good but we learn by doing. We get better through practice. It’s part of the hard work. We often forget how easy it is to borrow a camera and ask friends to help make something. Technology is accessible and people are interested in helping people who are honest, give a shit and work hard. Making stuff means that you get to see results, good and bad. Learn from success and failure. Then go make more stuff.

These are basic goals, but they are a good place to start and great things to remind yourself of often. Of course you should also watch films, read, eat, look at art, listen to music, listen to people, fall in love, get angry and see new places. But that’s another column for another blog. In that one I’ll write about storytelling and making eggs. Now get outta here and go work hard as you make honest stuff that you give a shit about.

You can follow Sean on his website

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