In video production (as in life!), planning is the key to success. At See3, we know video is a significant investment of time and resources for any nonprofit, no matter how big or small. When projects get off track, it often means they go over budget. This is bad for the client and the video partner, and can lead to dissatisfaction in the final product.
Fortunately, thorough pre-production can help you avoid much of that hassle. Below are five tips to keep in mind when you start your next video project that will help you stay organized and on budget. We wrote these tips from a producer's perspective, but we encourage nonprofits to use them as a guide when working with their next video partner. Knowing what it takes to streamline the video production process can help you set the right expectations for your project.
1. Lock content early
First, collect, label and prepare all photo and video assets to share with your video team before scripting begins. This allows your video team to take maximum advantage of the assets you already have, verify that formats are consistent, and helps you identify any missing elements early on to either buy or get out and capture. Be sure to identify any red flags up front, such as any photos or footage that can’t be used for any reason (no permission, employee who was fired, out of date logos, etc.)
Next, consult with all relevant departments before creative development begins to get a full list of messaging points for inclusion in the video. Identify any sensitive areas in advance, and clear usage of messaging and subjects. Compelling video leads with the heart, not the head. Video shouldn’t carry the weight of telling your organization or issue’s full story. Work together to prioritize messaging points and take out any unnecessary information.
2. Cast wisely!
Good casting depends on finding open, articulate, and available subjects. Always start with establishing a wider pool of potential subjects than you need, and conduct short pre-interviews to determine your best options. Prioritize good storytelling – while sometimes its necessary to include staff or board members, audiences are rarely interested in a video over-laden with “talking heads.” Only work with those who are enthusiastic about participating. If someone lets you know they dread appearing in front of camera, do not force them.
3. Allow plenty of time for scripting
Good scripting usually takes almost as long as editing. Your end product will only be as good as your pre-production. Give your team plenty of time to review the script, debate the talking points and content, and work out any internal questions before heading into production. Any unresolved messaging questions in pre-production will inevitably haunt the project through post-production. Serious unresolved disagreements can force a project that has already made it to the post-production stage to go back to the drawing board – costing your organization precious time and resources.
4. Limit the group of people offering feedback
We’ve all had “too many cooks in the kitchen” – especially during the holidays! Limit the number of people offering feedback and try to meet to come to consensus on feedback as much as possible. If you have a whole kitchen of cooks, assign one person to represent a department or group. No one story can represent all the work your organization does, and people will not agree on what really needs to be included in the video. Work together to find consensus. Your video production partner should provide a brief list of questions with each deliverable to guide your feedback and help your group prioritize your ideas.
5. Consolidate feedback & resolve internal differences
Assign one final decision maker to make a list of all feedback points that everyone can agree on. Sending mixed or contradictory feedback to your video partner puts the final decision in their hands. However, you know your messaging and audience best! If you have established a clear list of messaging in the pre-production process, have cast well, and limited the number of people offering feedback, serious differences over content should be minimized.
For nonprofits and video producers alike, keeping your project on time and on budget is easy when the proper legwork has been completed early in the process. Good luck!
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