What To Look For In A Production Company

As the need for video grows among organizations, so do the options that are out there. For a lot of people, video can already be intimidating, whether it’s not knowing what kind you need, what you should be paying and who you should be working with. Although there are lots of things to consider that I can’t be aware of (without meeting you, of course), taking the right steps will help guide you to making the right decision.

Do you like their previous work?
This one may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t properly vet a production company before working with them. Check out their website, Vimeo, Youtube, etc. and see what work they’ve done. You don’t have to know why you like something to like something. It doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of what you need but it should be stuff you like, whether it looks good or tells a good story, or you find yourself entertained or engaged with it. It also helps to see if they’ve done a variety of work, to make sure if they can cater to anyone’s needs, rather than their preferences. If all they have on their sites are mostly skateboard videos, you may be getting something that feels like a skateboard video.

Do you like them?
I really believe that a good experience throughout not only makes the process more enjoyable, but makes the final result better. If you get along with them and there’s a healthy relationship, that’s going to help collaboration. I’m not saying you can never disagree on things, but if you don’t like your contacts at your new production company from the beginning, chances are it’s not going to get better, and the product will suffer.

Do they lay out scope?
So you’ve decided to work with your new production company. Yay! Even better, you’ve agreed to a quote and they’re making your new communication tool. Sweet. Now let’s make sure expectations are laid out. Make sure that they’re not taking off after signing the contract and saying “you’ll see something from us in a couple of months.” Make sure that you know when scripts, storyboards, rough cuts, etc. should be expected. You know your brand better than anyone (at least you should!), and although they’re the professional video producers, your input is important. The last thing you want is them taking over the creative, disappearing and not knowing what you’re going to see and when. I always say, anytime someone asks when they’re going to see something, that’s a failure on us, as we haven’t laid out scope properly. It still happens, but we do everything we can to minimize it.
And it’s a two way street. They should be getting you to commit to timelines for feedback and any other contributions you’re responsible for.

Just like any contractor, you should ask around. Maybe call the companies, who’s work they’re featuring, what they were like to work with. Check online for bad reviews (although don’t take them to heart too much, as well, it’s the internet: a place for disgruntled people), and at least you can ask the production company for insight to that. Ask them how they handle when mistakes happen. If they say they never do, they’re lying. You want people who will communicate with you, even when things go wrong.

This one is tricky. With the growth of freelancers, and more boutique companies, it’s never been so competitive. However, I believe you get what you pay for. If you buy two houses that look the same, and one is half the price, I’d be surprised to see you still super happy with the cheaper one the next time I see you.

Doug Darling