Vetting a Video Production Company: 6 Questions to Ask
On June 30th, Americans for the Arts hosted a webinar titled Video Marketing for the Arts: How, Why and When with video specialists Caleb Custer of Caleb Custer Arts Marketing and Michael Miceli of Miceli Productions HD. More than 50 arts marketers participated in the webinar, which presented strategy for both in-house and out-sourcing video production.
To help arts marketers answer the question of when to approach video in-house or when out-sourcing is more appropriate, Michael offered the following analogy: “Would you wear the same clothes to a casual dinner socializing with friends as you would wear to ask a stranger to donate money or purchase something?” The point being that there’s a time and place for in-house video creation but there are also times that call for a greater investment.
When you have clearly identified that your arts organization needs to out-source video in order to accomplish a specific goal, what questions should you ask when you pick up the phone and call a video production company?
1. Do you have experience working in theatrical lighting?
Why this question is important: “Theatre, dance and music events often have dramatic shifts in theatrical lighting. If the camera operator does not have experience working in these conditions your quality can be at serious risk.”
Promising Answer: “Yes, we have worked extensively with both professional and community theatre and dance performances. We always make site visits ahead of time to assess new venues and you can view examples of our work with theatrical lighting situations online.”
Questionable Answer: “No, but don’t worry, our HD cameras can deal with any lighting situation.”
2. Are you able to shoot, edit and deliver in HD (high definition)?
Why this question is important: “Most TV stations can now take HD content and virtually everywhere online can host HD video.”
Promising Answer: “Yes, we work in HD from end to end, have relationships with local TV stations and are familiar with their specific HD requirements.”
Questionable Answer: “Yes.”
3. How fast is your turn around?
Why this question is important: “It is best to be upfront about expectations or desires for turn around time.”
Promising Answer: “What is your broadcast or publish date and how many people need to approve the final draft? Let’s work backwards from your deadline to determine when team members need to review first drafts.”
Questionable Answer: “2-4 weeks.”
4. How flexible are you with schedule changes?
Why this question is important: “Let’s be real here, we’re talking about arts event marketing. Scheduling changes are a given with any project. Test out your vendor to see if they can hang with this reality.”
Promising Answer: “We understand that the arts are a moving target and we will do everything we can to work with you. Same day cancellations may incur a fee. We will work with you, but clear communication from one responsive point-person at your organization is key to flexibility.”
Questionable Answer: “If shooting schedules need to be changed at anytime your deadline and budget will be significantly affected.”
5. What is your hourly, half day and day rate?
Why this question is important: “With so many potential production elements, video content creation costs range drastically. Asking for cost to be broken down in this way quickly gives you a general sense of whether or not you can afford a particular vendor.
Promising Answer: “$100/hr , $500 half-day, $1000 full-day inclusive.” (It is important to get a clearly defined answer that can be pointed to, in writing, and exists as a breakdown of negotiable production costs.)
Questionable Answer: “We’ll work with whatever budget you have.” (Although this is an attractive answer at first glance, you may not want to trust your brand equity with a vendor who does not break down their rates in a professional manner.)
6. Do you offer special pricing for non-profits?
Why this question is important: “It never hurts to ask!”
Promising Answer: “Yes, we offer approximately 25% reduction in cost to non-profits and can send you a non-profit price sheet to share with your team.”
Questionable Answer: “Not really.”
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