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Ten Tips on Hiring the Right Video Production Team

By: Jeffery Goddard

Jeffery Goddard is CEO and Executive Producer at TVA Productions, an award-winning TV/video production and duplication company just around the corner from CBS Studios. TVA produces TV newsmagazines, video news releases (VNRs), documentaries, TV Specials, 70 millimeter WaterScreen attractions (world's largest), TV spots, corporate videos, and direct mail video brochures--in every major language. Clients include Universal Studios, Sony, Warner Bros., Disney, Turner Entertainment, CityWalk, Lexus, Princess Cruises, LDS (Mormon) Church, Canon, Daewoo, Sega, and Epson.

  1. Ask the production company to show you specific examples of the last 3-5 productions they've done within the quoted budget.  Then call those clients to ascertain results of each show.

  2. Determine if the company understands your industry sufficiently to communicate your message to your target audience.   Will you have to spoon-feed an inexperienced team on just the mere basics of your biz?  Keep in mind the wise adage "if you think we're expensive... wait 'till you hire an amateur to do it!"

  3. Have them guarantee in writing that you will get at least the production values shown in the productions you liked best.  If you like a particular show, make sure they can provide the same creative team, i.e. director, writer, cameraman, editor, etc.  Ensure you'll get the team that had the greatest impact on the creativity and production values.  Careful, many production houses will show you great stuff... but then "bait and switch" you with some minor freelance crew having few credentials.

  4. Make sure no cameras start to roll until you're perfectly happy with the final shooting script, casting of on-camera talent, narrator, style of music, graphic design, etc.  And don't commit to a shoot date until the script is approved.  (You have enough stress in your life!).

  5. Make sure the scripts and storyboards give you a clear and detailed sense of how the production will be shot and edited (to avoid any unpleasant surprises at the end.)  Insist on seeing and approving an off-line edit (rough cut) prior to the final on-line editing of the program.

  6. Make sure they agree to produce the program on a "FLAT FEE" basis and that the contract has a "NOT TO EXCEED" clause, guaranteeing there will be no hidden costs.

  7. Ask for references from their last five productions.  Anyone can get a hit now and then--but out of their last five productions, how many actually achieved their client's goals?

  8. How well do they understand the latest, most sophisticated production techniques?  Do they eat, breathe and sleep the big picture (script to screen...dubs to distribution)... or are they strictly a production house who will leave you on your own to handle trafficking, dubs, digital formats, distribution, media buying, fulfillment, utilization strategies, etc.  Don't be left holding the bag (show), stranded with your own devices when it comes to ensuring a good ROI while maximizing usage.

  9. Do they know the most recent legislation (such as FCC, FTC, FDA and copyright laws; royalties, etc.) or will their production make you vulnerable to potential lawsuits or governmental fines, etc.?

  10. Have them guarantee in writing a completion date with penalties for unreasonable delays that you didn't cause.  The better production companies are often very busy and understaffed.  Make sure the contract guarantees your project won't get bumped to the back burner because of a larger project.

© Copyright, Jeffery Goddard 2002

Other Articles by Jeffery Goddard

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