Are you thinking about having a film made for your business?
Here are some key questions you should ask yourself to ensure you get a video that works for you.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A VIDEO?
Video is an excellent way to make an impact on your audience, to tell a story, to make them care about an issue, to empathize with a person or a cause, to make them aware of a product, or to show them something or how to do something, or even just to get them interested enough to find out about a subject in greater depth.
Video is NOT a a great way of presenting many facts and figures, a large amount of information or complicated arguments. Film and video evokes an emotional, rather than a rational response.
Do not try and shoehorn everything into a video. Use video in conjunction with other media to present your messages. Put up web pages or even micro sites where people can find out more about the issue or product having viewed the film.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE?
Film and video is about communicating. Too often in corporate films the message is lost because people try and put too much information into the film. Be realistic and think about what effect you want the film to have on your audience.
Think about your audience. Ask yourself what is the exact effect you want the film to have on the them? Do you want them to immediately go out and buy your product or to change their behavior in certain ways or do you just want to raise awareness of an issue or a service that is available?
When you know what effect you want the film to have you should be able to very clearly define the 'message' of the film.
If you are trying to convince people to do something you have to ask yourself what are the barriers to them taking this action, how can I overcome those barriers using video?
Try and be realistic about how many messages you want to get across. What is the most effective way of using those precious minutes when you have the attention of the audience? Ask yourself how much information did you retain from the last film you watched?
Be focused. If you are very clear about what you want to achieve then it will be easy to isolate the key messages of the film.
WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
By clearly defining your message you will also clearly define who exactly you want to reach with that message. You may find that there are several messages and each has a different target audience. Maybe it is worth creating different films to reach those different audiences?
These days this it is easier, and cheaper, than ever before - and it is also easier to target different viewers with bespoke content via email with links to a web page where the viewer can watch the film.
Respect your audience. Do not tell them things they already know. If you are not telling them something new they are not your audience. Surprise them and entertain them and they will be much more likely to remember your message.
HOW WILL THEY WATCH THE FILM?
Once you know who your audience(s) is/are you can start to think about how you are going to get them to watch the film.
Are you going to organize screenings? Are you going to launch a viral marketing campaign to drive your audience to a website? Are you going to pay for an advertising slot?
There is no point in making a film if no one is going to get to see it!
You should think about the distribution process right from the beginning, so that the producer can help you devise a distribution strategy so that your audience will see your film.
WHEN IS MY DEADLINE?
Maybe it is a product launch, publication of new research, an annual meeting, a conference or an exhibition, there is probably an ideal time for you to show the finished video for the first time.
It helps everyone to have a realistic deadline to aim for, not just for completion of the film, but also for all the associated marketing.
Maybe you can coincide the launch of your film with some related news event that will spark interest in your product or service? This is also a good way of coordinating a multi-platform launch event with print, web, and DVD elements.
If there is a genuine news angle to your film then local newspapers news stations can be very receptive to well produced press packs (press releases and professional photos) and video news releases (basically footage from your film which they can use to make into a feature).
WHAT IS MY BUDGET?
When you are budgeting think about related costs too. Try and be pragmatic about what return the video is going to make. It is a significant investment and you need to think creatively about how to get value for money. Are there other departments or organizations that could co-produce the film?
Be aware that as in any industry you get what you pay for. You will not get professional results from amateur camera work or editing.
There are always many different ways to make a film or video, different shooting formats of different qualities. If you are shooting an advert for the cinema you will need to shoot on a different format than if your advert is only ever to be seen on the Internet.
If your budget is set then it is worth telling a prospective producer from the beginning, as they will be able to tell you what you can do for that amount rather than giving you irrelevant quotes that will just discourage you.
When you have the answers to the above questions you are ready to approach a producer. Their job is to propose the best ways to convey your message to your audience within your budget and time frame.
A good producer should respond to your enquiry with a written film proposal, a draft budget and some examples of previous work.
Raj Yagnik is an award-winning filmmaker and director of Wired Video Production a UK company which has been making films for broadcasters, international charities and NGOs and businesses, since the turn of the century.