KNOWLEDGE

A – G about Making Videos

28 October 2019 | Lakshmi at Red Bangle

Running a business is no mean task. And as the Co-founder & Creative Director of a tech-enabled video production platform, my learnings over the past one and a half years has been phenomenal, to say the least. The art of making videos is creatively gratifying and strategically challenging in equal parts. And here’s the A-Z I have learnt about it. 

Always

Photo by rupixen on Unsplash

Always budget for 15 to 20% more. There is every chance that a model might fall sick, a set light bulb might decide to give way half way through a crucial scene or your CXO guest might not give you the time they promised at the time they promised which means you have to reschedule flights out for the crew. This additional budget is your buffer for such unforeseen circumstances. 

And if flat out budgeting for an additional 15 to 20% on the cost does not work for the client you are billing to, make it clear to them that they will be footing any additional costs if things don’t go to spec, and that they can pay on actuals. Most clients will likely agree to the additional amount being an integrated cost, because they would just rather spare themselves the task of processing additional purchase orders and bills. And if they don’t, at least they have would have been warned. 

Before

Before you start rolling… that pre production meeting. This is one all-important sync up of the entire crew heading into production the next day or the next week. All details get ironed out here, lots of questions get asked and a few great last minute ideas get added too. It’s best if the client is available – at the least – on call, to answer queries and sign off on some final details. Once you roll, there’s very little chance that you’ll go back and reshoot on an additional day of production… unless it is a documentary with a lean crew and you have the buffer budgets I mentioned in #A.

Catch

Catch them early. Tentatively block all the resources you need for the project, as soon as it looks likely to convert into a real thing.
We do a lot of work with freelancers and small studios, and these folks are always busy. When we let them know early, they know that at some point their calendar is going to be filled up with our work. And even if the dates do move around a bit, they usually don’t mind. 

Do not

Do not double-direct. Your Director is your Director. You can give them all inputs you want to give them, but they are the Director and you’ve specifically chosen them for that purpose.

I recently moved from the role of writing and directing, to being a Creative Director and have been working with several directors. It has been a sharp learning curve, but easier than I imagined because the directors we choose are good at what they do! So, all I need to tell myself from time to time… is ask questions, give suggestions, but do not direct. Sometimes, it isn’t just me potentially committing this error, clients do too! So, here’s to everybody who is not a director – leave the direction to the directors!

Engage

   Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Engage with your writers / conceptualisers / screenplay writers very early on. Ensure that the brief is as detailed as possible and they have everything they need to align with what the client wants, what will work for the particular communication being commissioned and that they do not have to go in circles conceptualizing again and again.

One thing that has always worked well, for instance, is getting the client to sign off on a high level concept note and references on treatment / style of the film and the budget before the screenplay writer comes on board. This way, there is a clear starting point for the next step in the creative process.

Secondly, I’ve recently learnt that no matter how detailed your briefing docket may be, there will still be a conversation or two needed if the screenplay writer is working with a client and industry for the first time. There is information about the client’s business that the Client Servicing staff / Account Managers and Creative Head are usually in on… this knowledge transfer and alignment is going to take time, and one needs to facilitate that proactively.

Fill those forms!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Forms, forms, forms. There are forms to capture briefs and forms to capture release rights and copyright information. Have templates ready to go and one person on the team assigned to get them all filled in and signed on time. Often, release forms get missed in the middle of the 101 things that happen in production. But once the project is done, it’s going to be much harder to get them filled and signed, and someday you will need them. So, assign this as a clear task to someone on the team.

Gather and Assign

Gather together the entire crew, and clearly assign who is doing what. Everyone needs to get a list or make one that the Project / Production Manager signs off on. If something is missing, you’ll know who to call!