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: Beth Iley - Developer of Scripted Programming at Temple Street Productions

For this weeks PEN we talked to Beth Iley. Beth works for Temple Street Producitons as their Developer of Scripted Programming. Some of the shows that they produced are Being Erica, Recipe to Riches and Canada’s Next Top Model. Currently they are producing the hit show Orphan Black. Beth is incredible at her job and her insights and hard work have contributed to the success of Temple Street Productions. Enjoy. 

                                  

 

If you love what you do then it won’t be work. Sure, this advice is cliché and flawed in some ways, but when your work comes home with you at night, you’ve got to care about more than just the paycheck. Baz Luhrmann famously said, “my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience”, which I think is beautifully articulated – and I don’t think I could say it any better myself. So I will begin dispensing this meandering experience here.

I’m a rookie in terms of tenure in the television industry. Having said that, in the three short years I’ve worked in it - I’ve already experienced a lot of change. Working in development means I get to collaborate with a lot of really talented writers and directors on their passion projects. Some of these we succeed in placing with broadcasters and get greenlit for audiences to see, however some never make it that far, which is always (and will continue to be) really heartbreaking.

Since I started in development at Temple Street (an indie production company based in Toronto), I’ve been fortunate enough to work on two script-to-screen success stories, both of which boldly broke the mold in their own unique ways on their respective channels. This was partly due to the creators’ visions for their projects, and partly due to our process. As producers we foster creativity and support artistic license. We don’t prescribe answers; we try and probe by asking the right questions.

Things change significantly from one development season to the next, and broadcasters constantly change their minds about what they want to air on their channels. Ultimately, some projects live and some die. That’s the nature of this industry; it shifts and evolves so quickly rapidly changing shape to fit newly prescribed ideas, platforms and technologies.

Netflix is a prime example of this phenomenon, just last month Ted Sarandos, Netlfix’s chief content officer, told the press “I have a deep respect for the fundamentals of television, the traditions of it even, but I don’t have any reverence for it”. While some seasoned professionals in the industry take this sentiment as a personal affront to what they do, and what they’ve done for some time; I think it’s important for the next generation of execs like myself to take it in stride and look for the opportunity it presents.

We’re living in the golden age of television. There’s such a large appetite for content; the marketplace is getting larger, and audiences are getting savvier. Audiences no longer need to miss out on episodes. The accessibility of on Demand programming and online streaming allows audiences to consume incredibly serialized, layered and complicated storytelling that challenges its viewers. This in and of itself has changed the nature of the game, and it makes our jobs more interesting.

The heart of it remains the same. Whether through broadcast, or emerging digital platforms – we are telling stories. They may be wrapped up in fancy, high-budget, long-arced packages, but they are still just stories.  

Storytelling and nurturing creativity is my passion and it’s the reason I’ve chosen to work in this industry. Whatever your passion, let it guide you – be prepared to work hard for it, to fight for it and others will get behind it.

I’ve always been encouraged to let my passions guide me. The idea was instilled in me from a young age that if I loved what I did, then it wouldn’t be work. I never doubted the validity of this advice, but it wasn’t until I made my foray into the work world that I truly understood its importance.

Follow Beth on Twitter here: @quitewarm 

Follow Temple Street Productions here: @TempleStreet

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