Like anything else that involves highly-skilled professionals, expensive equipment and expert knowledge, professional video production can sometimes seem costly.
While some brands can quickly dismiss the need for it altogether and reach for their smartphones instead, this definitely wouldn’t be the best option for every business.
So, if you have decided to stick with well-made video to represent your brand, worry not, as there are a few precautions that could be taken to save you some money without compromising on quality.
This post outlines some common mistakes which usually push costs up and offers some tips on how to be more efficient with your video production budget.
As with most collective endeavours, the biggest and most expensive mistakes in video production tend to happen in the planning stage.
Pre-production is the most important part of the creative process in terms of preventing unnecessary and unexpected costs, and should be taken seriously by both the client and the production company.
Bad communication, omissions and mistakes here could easily go unnoticed and end up costing you dearly later in the production process.
The main advice here is to do your homework and provide the production company with as much information as possible before they even quote you.
You should be very clear about your goals, budget, deadlines and brief from the start, as the more support you need from the production company for these, the more costs would increase significantly.
Prepare a Good Brief
This is your starting point. Production companies are unable to provide detailed and accurate quotes to you unless you provide them with all the necessary information first.
You can see the various options for how video production costs change here.
Realistic quotes are only given in return for good, well-thought out briefs.
To save money from concept development and achieve better business results with your video, you should be clear from the start about its specific function within your marketing strategy, the message it needs to get across, the style, distribution, target audience, etc.
Ideally the brief should answer fully these 5 questions:
- Why are you creating a video? What are your marketing goals for it?
- Who is your audience/target market and where will they see the video?
- What are your aims in terms of content, style, and brand message?
- What are your budget and timeframe?
- Do you have any resources to offer – filming locations, people, graphic assets?
Even if later on these need to be elaborated or altered, they provide enough preliminary information on the basis of which the company can start drafting budget, schedule, and structure.
To save even more time and resources at later stages, consider finding a comparative video which you like or putting together a mood-board to send with your brief.
Have a Preliminary Meeting
Setting a preliminary meeting with the production company, preferably face to face, or at least over video calling, would give you the opportunity to discuss all aspects of the production process. Being transparent about your budget and goals, and being proactive in looking for solutions to minimise costs could have a surprisingly positive impact on your budget.
However, while keeping your eye on the money, you should remain open-minded about the production company’s ideas about what is best.
Nothing will cost you more than creating an unusable, ineffective, cheap-looking video.
Pre-production costs should be set by the company from the beginning and made clear that it’s their responsibility to keep to budget on those.
Some discussion points, which could quietly inflate your expenses if left out, are:
- Script writing and story boarding – a professional might be necessary for more complex videos, but your involvement in drafting a script might save you money
- Casting Talent– outsourcing presenters, interviewers, actors is not cheap. Auditions, artist fees could add up to the costs of a project. Maybe you have someone in mind from your staff or your own contacts?
- Licensed music or stock footage – not a worry point, but worth going over for more clarity
- Small print – discuss contingency fees or allowance, insurance, copyright, location permission costs. A good company would never keep these hidden, but they are important so make sure you are in the know
Consider In-House Resources
Locations, people or other assets your company already has might end up saving you a great deal of money.
Filming your video at your own premises or in a public space might be a much cheaper alternative to studios and rented spaces. The more locations and the further away they are from each other, the more costs are added.
Moving from one place to another takes up valuable time for setting up and packing equipment, adding transport costs for crew, kit and people.
If the production needs some dynamic visuals from central London, you are better off buying these as stock footage from a supplier such as Clipcanvas on the internet than sending people to film there.
People are the greatest asset of your business, so make sure you get them involved.
For example, the CEO might not be the most comfortable person in front of a camera, or might not be able to deliver the brand message naturally or articulately enough.
In this case, expecting miracles in post-production is simply a poor idea.
Consider getting someone else to present the company, or even to host an interview-style conversation with the CEO.
Having to re-shoot or painfully cobble together awkwardly mumbled sentences in post-production is more expensive than you might think.
Set Sign-off Points and Deadlines
Video production has a rather linear way of progression, so setting points throughout the process in which you will be asked for approval is a good way to stay in control throughout and prevent any nasty surprises and extra costs.
Defining a clear timeframe, with sign-off points and deadlines – both for you and the company – from the onset of the project will improve your communication and ultimately the end product.
Generally most companies offer feedback opportunities at script or treatment stage, production schedule, Rough cut and recorded voice-over, and First cut, but the more you can be involved, the better.
It’s essential that when you are sent work, you should get it approved and signed off by all stakeholders to avoid internal miscommunication and re-recording or changes charges.
Also, the quicker you get your feedback to the production team – the better, as this means your video will be fulfilling its purpose in the market sooner. Sitting on rough cuts for weeks often results in overtime charges when the deadline is suddenly looming.
Maximise Production Time
In video production, same as in real life, everything usually ends up costing more and taking longer. When it comes to the production stage, planning is key.
The number of filming days has a massive impact on your budget, as the costs for crew and equipment, as well as the amount of footage to be edited increase. Here are some tips on how to make the most of production time:
- Always do full-day shoots – it looks more expensive, but in actuality the hourly rate works out cheaper. Equipment is usually hired per day, and having that extra time allows you to do more interviews, shoot more visuals, give time for subjects to relax, practice, have breaks and generally deliver better results. The shooting days should be organised perfectly, with premises tidy and prepared for the crew, and everyone knowing what to expect. The last thing you want is your expensive crew to sit around waiting for one person who is late or underprepared.
- Avoid overshooting – having either not enough or too much footage will add extra costs in post-production. Imagine the editor trying to sift through hours of material or scraping bits and pieces from the bottom of the barrel to try to put your video together. These people are paid by the hour, and such mistakes would definitely add more work for them.
- Fix it there and then, later is too late – If anything being filmed is not to your liking, if the phrasing isn’t correct, even if the whole interview needs redoing – do it there and then rather than splashing out a lot of money later for re-recording.
- Look after people – this is more the production company’s responsibility, but you should help, especially if the shoot is happening with your staff or on your premises. Food, drinks, toilets, breaks – tired and hungry people are unhappy people, and their work usually shows it.
The main moral here is that good communication with the production company and thorough planning could prevent costs for your project spiralling out of control.
Unforeseen circumstances can always arise, but being involved in the project from the start gives you that extra control over both the quality of end product and the money being spent.