H – O about Making Videos27 October 2019 | Lakshmi at Red Bangle
Hire the right crew
This is a bit of a funny one, because how do you decide which is the right crew? Who is the right director or the right cinematographer? Well, what I’ve seen is: there are creative people who are versatile and then there are creative people who are not-so-versatile. Knowing who is good at what is key and that means you either need to have met them or asked them the right questions to figure this out quickly.
Next, if they are versatile, what is their quality benchmark? Is there some sort of quality consistency across formats / styles? Does this match what the client is expecting and can afford?
And if they are particular about a style (i.e., not-so-versatile and artistic with a particular creative flair of their own), what are the parameters they usually work to / tech specs they will need on every project? This information and their fee helps you decide whether they are a good match for the project in hand.
Make it interesting
If you ever start thinking, “Oh… another project. Blah.” Stop. Make it interesting.
How do you make it interesting for yourself no matter which role you play in the production process. I think there is only one answer: give yourself a new challenge. Try a new style of creating the film, suggest new ideas, play with the idea a little, make it better, collaborate with someone new, give yourself a tougher deadline or simply raise the bar. The thing about creativity is: it only becomes boring when you let it become boring. It is otherwise, an endlessly joyful process that can completely consume you, ground you and nurture your growth.
Just say yes!
Ever since I switched roles from that of a director to the founder of a tech-enabled video production platform, my policy to every new video requirement query has been to ‘just say yes’, unless of course the team and I feel that the communication should not actually be a video at all. We recently advised a client that a static infographic might suit their communication need better than a video would. And we did this for two reasons: a) it was a fair response, and b) to do a good job of storifying the data the client had and make an engaging video, it would have taken 45 days, but the client only had 15 till the deadline.
But otherwise, whether it is an event snapshot film or an ad film – we say yes. And then we find the best creators to collaborate in the most efficient processes we can enable.
Know your customer
No, don’t just know why they are making this video today, but know why they are making it for tomorrow. What is their game plan? What is their business vision? Do you really understand their business model? Are you able to profile their potential customers?
To me, being a video agency, is to be in a very exciting place. A place that lets us not just bring alive a script into a video, but understand businesses and contribute to their growth. It’s not just about making a good looking video – it’s about being at the intersection of marketing and creativity, and enabling effective communication. And one of the ways we do this is by research: going out and asking consumers why they would choose the brand or not, asking employees why they work where they do or would not, and so on and so forth. And this is what makes us an AGENCY, not a production house. We take the effort to know, to understand, to consult and to create.
Love every video you make
Gosh, this is so much harder to do than it is to say or write about. I have critically rejected so many of our past creations. I always want more: higher benchmarks, newer styles. It is never good enough… for the most part. I am a bit of a perfectionist and it has been a hard learning for me to say, “Okay, I love it enough” and “Okay, the client loves it enough”. And then that contentment passes and I am on to the next challenge, the next rush, the next win. I guess this is about growth and I love continuous growth. But it is important, while on this crazy growth story, to love and enjoy everything we create… well, almost everything. Not every video we make is going to be perfect in everyone’s eyes, let alone mine. But if it works for the audience and it works for the client, you’ve got a win and I have learnt to love that.
Make the behind-the-scenes count
Feed the crew well, enjoy the creative process, don’t stress out unnecessarily, stay on top of the details, ensure people are not too cold or too warm (if that is possible!), and take lots of pictures and video clips to share on social media for there is plenty of brag value in hard work.
Never stop asking questions
My favourite question these days has been, “What do you think?” And it works like magic. People give so many insights, ideas and even raise relevant concerns that they haven’t voiced yet (and ideally should have!).
The thing about production is: there are lots of moving parts and lots of people involved. Everyone has insights and ideas. Even the spot boy will. Even your boyfriend or girlfriend will. So, whenever time permits, ask what they think, get insights, see what aligns with the goal of the production (yes, consider + filter + align!) and make it all the more better.
And my second favourite question is, “How can we make this video exciting?” And I think my team has actually inspired me to ask this question. Given the number of things I do, I usually struggle to find the time to ask this question. So, the credit for inspiring newness and innovativeness, goes to my team. And now I am trying to make this question a habit.
Open your eyes
Yes, open your eyes to what the world is making.
So, there is you and your bunch of crews and what you are producing, and then there is the whole wide world that is making many, many more videos. Our aim is to become the largest video agency in the world, and we are definitely not going to do that with our eyes closed to what the rest of the world is creating. And we are definitely not going to help our clients grow by always recommending tried and tested ideas and formulas. You’ve got to be open to new ideas, cross-pollinating styles, experimenting a little and researching a lot. I think one thing we will always have in-house and proudly so, is a research and referencing team that is constantly telling us and our clients what is working and what will not anymore.