Production crew shadowIf you’ve decided that your business could benefit from a little video love, then you may have contacted a number of production companies in your area.  Odds are, the quotes you received are probably all radically different.  (If you haven’t reached this step yet, you’ll see, they will).  This can be incredibly frustrating on your end, but you can ease a little of that frustration with a little preparedness and an understanding of production costs so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

So why does this happen?  Why do say, 5 different production companies have profoundly different costs for what’s seemingly the same product?  There are many reason, but we’re here to help you make the right decision, wherever your location.

 

AN ASSUMPTION OF YOUR NEEDS

One of the mistakes you can easily make, is not knowing what kind of marketing video you want before getting quotes.  When delivering your estimate, production companies sometimes have to base it off of an assumption of your needs, instead of an understanding of them.  There are things that you should be prepared to inform a production company of, when you first contact them, such as:

  • Who is the audience you are trying to reach with your video, and is your objective to sell to them or explain to them?
  • What kind of budget do you have to work with?
  • What platforms are you interested in releasing it on – the web, tv, conference, etc?
  • What is the overall message you are trying to get across?
  • Who will be the face of your marketing video – you, multiple people within your company, or do you need a professional actor or voiceover artist?
  • How many interviews would you like done?
  • Do you have a specific length in mind?
  • How many locations would you like captured in your video, or could it all be done in one place – your office, home, or all in front of a backdrop?
  • Do you need additional artwork or motion graphics of any kind to enhance your video?

Being able to deliver this information at the beginning, should start bringing those quotes in a little closer together.  It will also give production companies the ability to give you a much more accurate estimate as to what you’ll end up paying when everything’s said and done.  But of course, there are also other factors that need to be worked into your quote:

 

PRE AND POST PRODUCTION

A production is described as such, because it exactly that – a production.  It takes hours of planning, logistics, and administration for even a 3 minute marketing video.  All that time can’t go unpaid, and will be worked into your quote.

Post production is pretty much the same story however, is even more involved.  Expect to see costs for things like editing time and music rights in your quote as well.

 

PRODUCTION COMPANY OVERHEAD

As with any company, overhead costs vary for production companies, and those costs get passed to you, the customer (which is true of any business).  There are things such as liability insurance (you should make sure your production company has some), and equipment that isn’t going to pay for itself.  The cost of these things has to be spread out throughout the year and worked into every production estimate and eventually, invoice.

 

EQUIPMENT QUALITY

You know that equipment that you have to help pay for?  Well all of that varies in price as well.  By a lot.  And the quality of the equipment a production company is using will affect your quote.  But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a current frustration for people in production is that the standard for equipment is always changing.  As technology raises it’s costly yet beautiful head, the next best thing that is going to increase the quality of your video, is always around the corner.  Some production companies are always on the forefront of these lines, engaging themselves in the technical world and consistently using the next best thing be it camera, lighting kits, sound equipment, etc.

On the flip side, some of those same production companies, and others, know that using a lighting kit and camera from 3 years ago is still going to fit your needs just as well as this years model.  And this may be reasoning for a slightly lower quote, since the equipment doesn’t need to be paid off, but there’s still a charge for upkeep (production equipment needs a little love and finesse over time to keep it working perfectly, ya know?).

Remember, these things may or may not be part of the reason you receive a higher quote.  And don’t be dissuaded from asking about it either.  So again, know what your needs are and convey them as best you can to get the most accurate quote for the outcome you want.

 

PRODUCTION CREW

If you’ve successfully conveyed what your needs are to your production company of choice, then they should have a good understanding of how many people it will take to produce your video.  A good question to ask yourself at this point is, how much is your time worth to you?  The more people you can afford to have on site for your production, usually means the actual production time will be cut down, freeing more of your day for whatever may be of importance to you.

That being said, when your production crew shows up on the big day (or days), however many of them there may be, chances are most of them aren’t on salary.  The majority of those who work in the film/video world are freelancers.  Meaning they work for a daily rate.  And daily rates vary a lot too.  A freelancer’s daily rate is based upon how many years of experience they have, education, the time they have put in to learning their craft, overall skill level, and additional equipment they provide to a production.  Who’s on your crew and how many of them can be a huge factor in the estimates your receive.

 

YOUR BUDGET

After all is said and done, some production companies are willing to work with you if you’re upfront about your budget.  Hopefully, you have an interest in video marketing because you see the value in it as an investment.  What you can afford and what you are willing to shell out for your video are two very different things.  You should have a clear idea of which is more important to you, and how much quality vs. cost means to you, because it’s in direct correlation to the finished product you will receive.

 

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Take the time necessary to view samples of each production company’s work that you want to contact for quotes.  And then maybe even view them again after receiving the quotes, because then you can properly judge between cost and quality of each company.  There are so many out there, and it’s important to figure out what the best fit is for you.  You also want to work with a company that is open and honest about their production process.

Video and film production is not a widely understood operation, but it’s not a ridiculous notion that you might want a better understanding of something you’re paying for.  Many production companies keep the mystery alive and well, and conduct their inner-workings and process behind the ‘curtain’, while booting you out of the creative process.  I, for example, work as a producer for a video marketing company based in Chicago called New Slate Films.  Part of our philosophy is being open and transparent with clients about process and cost since it is after all, their production.  Working with an estimate or quote to better fit the needs of a client is incredibly important, because no two videos are ever the same, and not every business can afford a giant production.  Like New Slate Films, some production companies can offer you various options based on your needs.

So now that you know what’s going on behind that curtain, do your research, know your needs, and move onward into the world of video marketing!  We wish you well!