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By Darren Khan
If you’re planning on producing a video in-house, without an agency and with a budget of between £10k and £100k, here are some useful tips.
Transparency in my opinion is key….we wanted our clients to see our fees, communication with production companies and the budget breakdowns themselves via a centralized platform
Video Production is akin to construction in many ways, we can find it a daunting task when we have little experience in such creations. There are some factors you can lean on to make more informed decisions. Transparency must be one of them. Like having that ideal home built, you scope it out with more than one supplier, compare the quotes and different line items and you begin to understand why each element is needed – production is no different.
It’s near impossible to cover off all the possibilities but I hope to give some insight, some tips to some of the video production process.
The three main parts of production are pre-production, production and post-production. For this article I will focus on pre-production, working with production companies and budgeting considerations.
There are standard practice ‘general’ engagement rules that most will adhere to, for example, what I would call the “creative agency” model. This is what most production companies are mainly used to when dealing with clients. Typically this would include briefing “up to” three production companies, receiving budgets, timings and a creative proposal or treatment before finally commissioning one of the three companies. The production company would also expect to be paid the 1st 50% of the budget ahead of the shoot and the 2nd 50% after delivery. Supporting this within the UK are unionised rates for key crew for large productions, which can vary from market to market.
More and more clients these days have a mixture of suppliers for various content types they wish to create. Many won’t be able to afford a creative agency. Below are points and guidelines for producing smaller “online productions” where you are dealing directly with a production company and may not have an agency and it’s rigor in place.
It’s worth pointing out that the agency model is a tried and tested one and has been championed in the UK by the Advertising Producers Association (APA). Some of the points below lend themselves to that, but most ‘content’ productions won’t have the scope to be created in the full blown agency manner.
Internal discussion on your Deliverables
What is your marketing strategy and what channels are you going to utilise? Is it part of a yearly content plan, or is it for a new production or service? Before working on a brief it’s worth deciding on all requirements you may need and working backwards. Also, by ‘sweating your assets’ you can avail of economies by making more at the same time.
This is a really important point as different channels have different video formats and processes. For example, if you are making a TV commercial it will be 16:9 widescreen picture ratio and if for Instagram you may opt for a 1:1 square ratio format. You may also have varying lengths, cut-downs, teasers, images to populate your campaign.
I have seen so many clients only consider this towards the end of the video production and it adds huge stress and extra costs if left to mid process to add in these alternative formats. The variation in deliverables and formats are vital in forming your brief from the offset.
Forming an internal document before you engage a production company will save you time and budget. Being organised up-front sets the tone of any potential relationship you have with your production company.
What is the objective? What is the background to this production, are there any insights you can share? What do you want the consumer to do, who are your target demographic? Are there mandatories to your content for example, locations, product or service features, benefits you want highlighted?
Agreeing this internally by forming a Brief document will align teams internally and help you communicate as ‘one’ voice, which reduces any differing opinions down the line.
After your brief is agreed the next step would be to formulate a script. You may decide to tackle this yourself in-house, or to employ a copywriter in your sector, or indeed you may look for your production company to create one for you. You’ll need to get most of your script agreed before a budget is fully signed off, you can of course alter some elements as you progress such as a voice over or titles over the screen.
To note; with some story telling content you don’t necessarily need a script, it may come from filming interviews, sound bites and the narrative can follow a more documentary approach. You may have some key shots, locations or themes you want to cover. With cut-downs and social versions this can be distilled and refined into your core message, call to action or brand line.
Budgeting, Timings and Treatment
Below is an outline for any video production, I would use all of this logic from shoots of £10k up to £100k+, these are generally ‘content’ shoots. Larger productions will have more rigour put in place. It’s really down to how much time you have in order to limit the risks involved in making a premium production, while keeping costs down.
Once a production company has an outline, brief, timings and script, they can formulate their approach via a creative treatment and associated budget. You need to analyse all of these elements in tandem as they are all of course linked.
Bear in mind that most marketing procurement and producers tend to look for three comparative quotes in order to find value and the best fit, so it’s good practice to follow the same rule. By having comparative quotes and understanding the approach (think that dream house again) you really get to understand where the costs are coming from.
Transparency, sustainability and the impact of COVID-19 on travel
Transparency in my opinion is key and that is why when creating the Travlrr platform we wanted our clients to see our fees, communication with production companies and the budget breakdowns themselves via a centralized platform.
We also created Travlrr to enable clients to scale their creation abilities. Having experienced tighter budgets and tighter timings there was a real need to create bespoke foreign content in another way. We curated a small number of talented and agile local companies in over 100 countries to allow us to directly brief them via a private centralised dashboard. To enable us and our clients to shoot from single shots all the way to fully finished films.
Our purpose is to reduce carbon emissions and with the impact of a Global Pandemic we are seeing more clients adjust to this method of production now they have little choice.
By reducing the need to fly full teams to foreign locations we cemented our sustainable production solution via a tree planting programme we launched last summer with “Trees for Life” in Scotland. For each brief commissioned, we plant trees to the equivalent of 7500KG of Carbon emission or the same as the average household produces in 7 months.
With restrictions on Travel and video production itself varying from country to country this is even more risky for clients to fly crews around the world. My view would be to review your marketing department itself to see if there are new ways of working that will reduce costs, timings and help create a more sustainable world.
Below is an example of work from one of our customer’s. As an example this would sit in the under the £50k production mark.
About the author
Darren Khan is Founder & CEO at Travlrr, a sustainable remote production platform working with Brands and Agencies. Clients include Government Tourism Agencies, Brands, Publishers, Media Owners, Social Media Platforms, Post Houses and Agencies to create bespoke high quality video content & ads at scale; faster, cheaper and more sustainably.
The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Producers & Procurers iQ or imply endorsement from the publisher.