The art of videography and filmmaking is very valuable to business. Whether you need coverage for your events, commercials, or web content—Videos are quickly becoming a main source of communication for many brands. Part of the reason this is happening is because videos have a high rate of engagement which is perfect for creating excitement around your idea. Another reason is that a well-crafted video is more likely to be shared across the interwebs, putting more eyeballs on your concept which is never a bad thing!
But knowing that you need videography is only half the battle, the other half is deciding on the right person or vendor to do the work for you. And as with any job where you are looking for outside assistance, picking the right person or company is crucial to your experience and the product you get.
As a freelance videographer that also owns my own company in the field, I have been on both sides of this issue. I thought I could offer some insight into what I believe is important to look for when you are considering a freelance videographer or a company.
But first, let me give you some information on the difference between hiring a company versus a hiring a freelance videographer.
Company VS Individual
As you venture out and start doing some research, you may find that there are two different overall categories—companies that offer videography services and individuals that do videography as their craft. There are pros and cons to each one.
Companies that provide videography services come in many different varieties. Some, offer only filmmaking, videography, video editing and other very similar services. Those to me are the best type of companies to look into because you can feel more confident that the people working at that company know what they are doing.
Other companies, offer videography as a subset amongst many other things. So for example, they may offer web design, graphic design, photography, copywriting, marketing AND then videography. If it is your first time looking for videography services, I would probably caution you to stay away from companies like this unless they have something that really catches your eye. Because companies that offer a wide variety of different services are usually better at one thing than another; and you wouldn’t want to sign up with a company that just added videography to their repertoire as an afterthought to make money (not saying they all do this, but you wouldn’t want to risk it).
Even further, there are some companies that offer videography but they are very similar to content mills, where they are just a middleman between you and the actual videographer. They handle all of the administrative tasks (talking to you, arranging payment, figuring out what you want for your project) and then they subcontract actual filmmakers to do the work. These are okay, but if it’s your first time looking for videography services I would caution you against these as well.
Then, there are individuals that do videography/filmmaking as their craft. They are generally your typical freelancer, where they are the only person doing all of the work. The pros of going with an individual are that often times, you can tell much easier whether the person knows what they are doing or not. You can deal directly with them, so you know their personality and whether it will gel with yours. You can tell them exactly what you are looking for, and they can customize much easier to your needs. The cons of going with an individual is that they sometimes don’t have the capacity to deal with massive projects without going and hiring more people. Also, their communication with you may not be as quick as a company with a full staff.
What to Look For
Now that you know the pros and cons between companies and individuals, we can talk about what to look for! Regardless of which route you take, these topics will apply and if all of them are met, you will most likely get a great product in the end!
Arguably this is the most important thing. When you reach out to a videographer or media company, how do they handle it? If you contacted them by phone, do they sound happy to help you? If you contacted via email, do they respond to you promptly? Are they kind, courteous, and professional? If you answered yes to these then this is a good sign you can trust them to complete the work and to do a good job. Keep in mind though, that if you are contacting an individual, it may take them a little longer to respond, since they are wearing many hats and could be doing a myriad of things at the time of your message.
How they treat you throughout the entire process, not just in the beginning when they are trying to get your business is something you should consider.
Firstly, do they have a portfolio that you can easily find? If not, it may be best to steer clear from them as they are likely new to the industry. If yes, is it of good quality? I think I will write a post soon to give tips on how to spot a good video versus a not so good one. But you want to make sure that the videos in their portfolio look good to you!
Another thing to note, if you are dealing with an individual be sure to ask that person if they themselves shot and edited the pieces on their portfolio. Unfortunately, there are people that will send you links to videos that they helped on as second shooter or assistant, but they didn’t actually film and edit it themselves. If you are dealing with a company, this is more tricky because they will likely send you a videographer that is staffed with them, so you won’t be able to directly confirm who filmed what. But on the flip side, companies have more skin in the game when it comes to these matters, and they will generally staff competent people to avoid issues.
It’s also important to see if they have experience filming the type of project you need. For example, if you need a videographer to film your wedding, it’s important that they have wedding videos to show. Same for commercials and any other project. In the same breath, however, some videographers have worked on many different projects (like myself). If you can see that their portfolio contains a body of work that is of good quality overall, then they can likely do the work.
Are they knowledgeable of videography and the needs for your project? Do they ask the right questions? Do they ask questions at all? A well-versed videographer will ask very specific questions about your project so that they are fully prepared for the shoot and know what will be needed of them. If they just agree to film something for you at a price, and never ask any detailed information, I would consider that a red flag.
Do they explain their process to you? Not necessarily their film process, but the process of working with them from start to finish as it relates to you. Do they have a contract that lays out all of this information so you know exactly what to expect from them and vice versa? This is very important, if they do not establish key information for you such as how long they will film, when you will receive the final product, if they will provide raw footage or not (most likely not), and/or if they will provide a “rough draft” for your approval, then most likely they do not have a good process in place. It is important that the videographer you select is organized and has a full proof workflow. If they don’t share this information with you, I would consider that a problem.
Reviews (if applicable)
This one can be tricky, if there are reviews of the company or videographer then I would definitely read them to see what has been said. However, if they do not have reviews, I wouldn’t view this as a bad thing necessarily. Reviews can be falsified or sugar coated. I would say consider them, but do not let it be a final determining factor of whether or not you choose a videographer or company. Unless of course, they have a LOT of bad or negative reviews, that is not a good sign :).
Choosing a great videographer can make all of the difference in your experience and the product you get. I believe you can avoid the nightmares that sometimes happen if you take these tips into consideration.
Have you ever hired a videographer? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!