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: 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.

BE HONEST. 

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.

GIVE A SHIT

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.

WORK HARD

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. 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 http://www.seanwainsteim.com/

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The PEN: Misty Fox - Make Up Artist/It Girl

When it comes to Make Up artists in Toronto, no one is better than Misty Fox. Misty has worked in her field for several years and has done make up for famous bands such as Teagan and Sara, Chad Kroegar, Metric and Alice Cooper. She is also  Emily Haines personal make up artist, and has worked with stars such as Alison Brie (Mad Men and Community) Jane Eastwood, and Colin Hanks. However, what makes Misty so special is not who she has worked with, but her attitude and strong work ethic. She is driven, friendly and exceptional at what she does. I have had the pleasure of working with her for a number of spots through Big Pig and others throughout the years. I could not think of a better person who deserves her success. We are fortunate enough to hear some of her thoughts below on her career and what it takes to be successful in the industry. Enjoy. 

 

I began my career with the equal amounts of love, fear and commitment. When I was 27 I enrolled in make up school. At that time I had a two and a half year old daughter who was more than ready to socialize with the other youngsters at what was set to be her new daycare for the next 8 months while I took an intensive course at the School Of Make Up Art in Yorkville.

I decided to do the whole course, not just beauty and fashion subjects, but also special effects, make up for film and T.V, prosthetics and wig making. I believe whatever career you pursue in the film business, you must have a fierce conviction to your craft, this can only come from learning everything you can to begin with while also knowing you will never stop learning on the job.

My marks were great, 90’s-100 % in most subjects. The comments on my report cards, beside the more tedious tasks, were the same throughout primary school and high school reports, frustrated teachers wrote ‘Misty is very easily distracted’ It is important to know what you need to work on, and work just as hard at fixing that, as you do in fine tuning your make-up skills.

Being a make-up artist is more than doing a good make-up application. Of course you are required to apply make-up in professional and timely manner, but you are also a skincare expert, matching the right products to skin and keeping skin calm and healthy on set requires you to know how to treat and prepare your clients skin so your make-up looks the best it can.

You are also a therapist, a hype girl, a friend, a confidant, a nurse at times, you need to be there for the person you are putting make-up on, in every way. You need to be there with understanding, water, Advil  encouragement, blister blockers, pasties, everything.

That person is the most important person in your life while they are in your chair. An ego will get you nowhere in this business, and it could get you fired. You could go from running the whole make-up department on set, to assisting someone the next day so never get too big for your britches. Your duties could go from being the boss, to washing the boss’s brushes, so it is important to keep your ego in check. 

Jobs vary, the amount of jobs that are around will change from month to month, and the kind of jobs you do will be different every time, sometimes you will have a bunch of ‘bread and butter jobs’ at other times you will be so excited by the wild creativity of a project, sometimes you will see it as a job you do to pay the bills. Speaking of bills, you should probably pre-pay your bills in the summer so that during the colder months where bookings are few and far between, you are not stressed about money. I do this every year and it helps my sanity. 

You have to run your business, every day. If you don’t have a smart phone, get one, or they will give the job to the make-up artist who answers his/her emails faster than you. When a producer is crewing up for a shoot he wants to confirm people, fast. Try not to be afraid to talk about money, I found this very hard at the start. Even though you should expect to start on low-to-no-budget jobs, you should keep in mind that your training and skill is worth something to the team and set yourself a moderate day rate and ask for it. As your experience increases, so will your day rate. 

If you want to fast track it in this industry, be the best, be open to learning, be the cleanest, the tidiest, the most organized, gossip free, make-up artist. Wear nice tidy clothes and don’t be in anyone’s face, be who you are, but on your best behaviour. A film set is like a big machine, if you aren’t making the part you are in charge of work, it could cascade in to a bigger problem for other departments. Keep your eyes on set, your mind on the job and your jokes clean. 

Be someone people want around, and will book again. Someone once said to me, ‘loads of people can do a decent make-up job, we hire the people we want to be around’  A set, especially a film set, is a little family. Sometimes you will see the crew more than your own friends and family. This is what is great about this industry. For me, having no family here in Canada, I relish in this environment. I kid you not, you will feel real love the people you spent 30 days with, standing in the rain next to some dilapidated prison while making movie magic. 

This is one of the most fun, stimulating, ever changing careers, you can pick your hours and your holidays, you get to be creative and business minded at the same time. 

I recommend this job, and I recommend taking it very seriously.

Photograph courtesy of Shannon Echlin, http://www.shannonechlin.com/

You can follow Misty on twitter @mistyfoxforever, Instagram/mistyfox, Facebook www.facebook.com/mistyfox or on her website www.mistyfox.ca

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The Current Production Process: What Can You Do to be More Productive?

Getting started in media production can be a daunting process. Often, the rules and etiquette are unspoken, and a good producer has to rely on a healthy sense of tact and organization to navigate a shoot.

When it comes to the production process, a producers organization habits can determine the difference between a fun successful shoot or a chaotic nightmare shoot. Solid organization habits allow more time to prepare a schedule, get call sheets and paperwork out to the crew, while leaving a larger window to anticipate last minute changes. Overall, an organized producer is an informed producer, who knows the shoot implicitly, able to answer any questions related to any aspect of the production.

Manners and mannerisms are still an essential skill in the producers tool belt. As a producer, it’s important to remember that you’re the leader, and that the crew is always looking in your direction when they have a question – even if it’s a technical question out of your field. A good producer needs to find that sweet spot between being relaxed and easy-going, but firm and serious about deadlines. I have worked with a Rolodex of disorganized, stressed out and unpleasant producers, and their poor attitude affected the morale of the set every time, and ultimately the final product. Your energy and attitude is as important as work ethic – you’ll see it reflected in your crew.

A good producer should leave their ego at the door. Listen to suggestions your crew may propose. Often, members of the crew work in a variety of other creative trades, so use their valuable experience towards your own project. Your crew will respect you for considering their input, and will create a harmonious set where everyone is working towards a singular goal. You are an authority on the set. Act like it. Be confident, organized and accept suggestions.

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The PEN: Peter Harvey - Producer/Filmmaker

This weeks PEN is focusing on Producer/Filmmaker Peter Harvey. Pete has worked in both the multimillion dollar blockbuster film world and the smaller Canadian indie picture world and has found success in both. His drive to tell an engaging and thoughtful story has lead him to this success and will continue to do so in the future. His latest film Picture Day is currently playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, you can find the link to tickets below. Enjoy. 

I started making movies when I was 11 years old. I had a pretty good sense of who I was and why I did it. Mainly, I made movies for fun, with my best friends with an unlimited amount of time to shoot them. Plain and simple. We had the best time doing it and because of that, we made movie after movie after movie. I am now currently making films and loving every minute of it. If the 11 year old me, could look at what I am doing right now, he would be proud.

It’s funny, the film industry I first entered into and the film industry I currently work in, are two completely different monsters. I entered in Vancouver and worked way down that “military style ladder” on one of those $100-200 Million movies. It was terrible. No one was there to have fun and make movies with friends. They were there to make money and go home. Day after day. Year after year. Plain and simple. That was their life and that is what they “enjoyed”… as they complained about anything and everything. That is just not my kind of filmmaking. Never has been and never will be. I left Vancouver and headed to Toronto where I felt the Indie Canadian film scene was happening.  It was and I haven’t looked back since.

 

The main reason I make films now: Story. I love to tell compelling stories that I believe need to be told AND have fun while making those stories come to life. I have built friendships that will last forever film sets and I hope that I will get the opportunity to make another film with those particular people again. 

Since I’ve started, I think a lot of things have changed in the actual industry. I, personally, have started to make films on a bigger budget scale, but at the same time I think that overall budgets of films are shrinking. Fewer films are being financed for more and more films are being made for “Micro” budgets. It’s a blessing and a curse. Technology is letting filmmakers make films for less, which is great, but it also means there is a lot of films that don’t get the proper development they need before they are rushed into production. I really do think that some people forgot about story. A film relies on a good story. Sometimes you can get away with a smaller budget and smaller crew, but if you’re lacking story the audience will know.

I’m very interested and curious to see where online distribution will go in the next 2-5 years. We’ve already come a long way, but I only think that it’s the beginning of the online revolution. I think going straight to online is the only way to help some of these smaller projects and the filmmakers make money off of the project, in hopes that they can make their next film. Take Ed Burns’Newlyweds as a prime example of this.

If I were to give advice to someone who was coming into the industry, I would tell them: Only get into film if you love it. It’s a crazy industry full of long hours, stressful problem solving situations and it’s not glamorous… no matter what it looks like in magazines. Do it because this is your passion and you love to make films.


What is The PEN?

The PEN is a new weekly creative series where we will feature a small article written by someone Big Pig Co. has either have worked with in the past, would like to work with or admire. It is designed to give you a small glimpse into what exactly it takes for that person to do their job in the commercial, film, and television industry. 

When people ask me how did you get to where you are, I always find it interesting explaining it to them. The goal is to give people a first hand account as to how to do a particular job and what it took to get them to their particular place in their life. We hope you enjoy. 

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