Studies show that people remember merely 20% of what they hear, and only 30% of what they see, and an incredible 70% what they hear and see.* With this in mind, it’s no wonder why video is such a powerful communications tool.

So your company has decided they need a video. Where do you start? What questions do you ask? How can you make sure the final product is what you are expecting? This article will give you the tools you’ll need to have a professional video project you can be proud of.

First, let’s talk about money. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Especially with video production, if you make a decision to hire a production company solely by picking the lowest quoted bid, you will probably end up with a video that is much less than what you expected.

Remember, this video represents your company. Do you want your video to look like a high school A/V project? On the other hand, there is no reason to go crazy and spend ungodly amounts of money. It’s important to find a company that gives a fair bid for the type of video you need and can produce your project in a professional manner.


To start your video project, there are two decisions that you will need to make. First, do you want to hire an independent producer or a production company? Second, you will need to decide if you wish to receive your bid for production as a “Package Price” or “Piece Meal”.


Independent producers usually work for themselves and do not own any equipment. They generally rely on outside production companies to supply their equipment and crew needs. This means that if you have an immediate need, the producer is dependent on someone else to help service you. However, unless the independent producer is very busy, you should get good personal attention.

By hiring a production company, you get a producer who is part of the production company that has the equipment and crew resources in-house. They can generally respond immediately to your needs. Depending on the scope of your project, a production company will either use an in-house producer or hire a freelance producer to coordinate your project.

Either way you decide, be sure you have an experienced producer to manage your project.


There are two ways of hiring a producer or production company to create your video: “Package Price” and “Piece Meal”.

“Package Price”

A package price for the entire project is the way most videos are negotiated. On the surface it seems to be the most logical. The client knows exactly how much to budget for, and the production company knows how much money they will have to work with.

The downside for this arrangement is that once the price is agreed on, the two sides can become adversaries instead of partners. The client will naturally try to get as much out of the production as he can, while the production company will then try to maximize its profits. If you choose this route, be sure to have a very clearly written bid with exactly what each side will be responsible for. With this clearly defined bid in hand, there will be no confusion or surprises.

“Piece Meal”

Another way to produce your video is “piece meal”. You can hire your production company by the day, or by the hour. This way, whenever someone is working on your project, you are paying for their time and only the time they are working on your project. Your producer should be able to give you hourly and daily rates and should be able to estimate the total cost for the project according to your needs. The downside to this is that your actual costs for production may be more or less than you budgeted for.


Looking under “Video Production” in the Yellow Pages directories is generally a good way to find a local production company. Just remember that just because the size of an ad is bigger for one company than another, it doesn’t mean the production company is better.

Personal referrals sometimes are your best bet. But remember that this video will represent your company, so be sure you are referred to a professional video producer with experience and not cousin Billy who has a consumer camera and wants to get into the video business.

You can also search the Internet. One of the best sources for lists of production companies on the web is at www.mandy.com. There are many others sites with lists, but this one seems to be the best. Using search engines to find production companies that have a presence on the web is also a pretty good source.


Has the production company won any awards for the videos they have produced? There are regional and national awards that producers can enter their projects. If your production company has won some critical acclaim, it’s a good chance that they would be a good company to produce your video.


When you initially talk with your producer, be sure to ask some questions. But more importantly, the producer should ask you most of the questions and listen to what you want. This is your company’s video and it’s up to the producer to try to get in your head to give you a product that you want, within your budget, and not what the producer wants at the budget he wants. Be aware if the producer tells you what you need without listening to what you are saying. At the same time, ask the producer for recommendations that would enhance the project beyond your video knowledge.

Set up a time to meet with the prospective producer. Meeting at your location is usually most beneficial. If you want a marketing or training video for your widget, it would be important for the producer to see the widget. It would be important to bring copies of videos you would like to emulate and tell your producer what you like and don’t like about these videos. Be sure the producer brings sample videos similar to the project you want to do.

Look at past projects your producer has completed. You should also call the producer’s past clients to get feedback on their professionalism, work quality, and personality to understand what is was like to work with them.


Your producer should listen to what your company’s goals are regarding the video, ask a lot of questions, then give suggestions for the best way to produce your video within your budget. Often, your production company won’t know anything about your business and vice-versa.

Questions to Ask Your Producer

What can I do to keep my costs down?

A good producer will help you keep the project within your budget. Some of the more common ways to save money are:

  • shorten the length of the program
  • use fewer professional actors
  • keep the shoot days to a minimum.

Holding a pre-production meeting to coordinate the project could save hundreds of dollars. If the shoot is scheduled at your company’s location, try to do everything possible to facilitate the shooting process. For example, if you are creating a marketing or training video for your widget, let your manufacturing line take direction from the video producers and allow disruption of their work.

What kind of experience does the producer have?

The experience of the producer relates directly to the quality of the finished product. Be sure to see examples of video work that the producer has personally produced.

Are there any extra charges?

Ask up front if there will be any extra charges. Some common extra charges: taxes, tape costs, mileage, travel expenses and duplications. It’s important to understand that if you, as a client, make changes to the project that require additional work from the production company not originally agreed upon in the proposal, expect extra charges to apply.

What will you need from me?

You, or a representative from your company, will need to have an accessible contact person to help coordinate approvals, schedule shoots, and answer questions to help make the production process as smooth as possible. Speaking of approvals, it will be essential to have you, or designate, responsible for approving each aspect of the production process, including scriptwriting, shooting and editing. Once approvals are given, you can expect any changes made thereafter will be additionally billed.

During the shoot, you should be able to stand and watch every shot in the monitor to be sure it represents your company the right way. That is your opportunity to be sure the director is getting what you want. However, please be aware that you did hire a professional crew to produce your project. This is a team effort, let them do their job while making sure you convey what you want in your production.

Questions Your Producer Should Ask You

  • What do you like and dislike about other videos?
  • What do you want to achieve with this video?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What do you want the audience to do after watching the video?
  • How will the tape be shown?
  • How many shoot locations are there?
  • Will we be shooting during business hours?
  • If we are shooting during business hours, are there any logistical concerns?
  • How long does the video need to be?
  • Will a company executive need to be on camera?
  • Do you need a professional on-camera talent or voice-over?
  • Who will write the script?
  • Will you need extra graphics or animations in the video?
  • Are there any other materials that need to be included in the video, such as photographs?


An important point to remember, especially if you are a rookie at using video, is that communications is key to the success of your video. Your production company should be available at any time to answer any questions you may have. Your producer should be kept informed of the project’s status and what the next steps are.

Television is a huge part of our lives and we are very accustomed to top quality programming. Today’s audiences are sophisticated and expect broadcast quality video productions. If your video is anything less, your message and image will suffer greatly.

Remember to ask questions, be sure you are asked a lot of questions, and go with your gut feeling. Chances are you will end up with a great product and have a fun time in the process.

Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions.

Greg Coon
Eyecon Video Productions
Dallas, Texas

*Source: Harvard Business Review