How to give the perfect film and video production brief

February 21, 2019 by SARAH HICKEY

Sometimes receiving quotes from production companies can be like comparing apples with oranges. Monsters with Bears, if you will.

There can literally be thousands and thousands of dollars in difference between what one production company may quote you, compared to another. Why is this? Surely, if you are providing the same brief to them all, the price points can’t vary all that much, can they? Below are some key considerations to take into account when briefing a production company.

STEP 1. Remember, Production Is Scalable...

High production value is often achieved with large, efficient crews, highly specialised in each of their departments. This allows for every element within a frame to be nurtured and leaves no stone unturned. Sometimes it is possible to strategically cut this crew formation down in order to save cost, but it is often at the cost of something else.

As an example, you might not have the budget for a Lighting Assistant, which will then put more pressure on the Gaffer (head of lighting) to do setups on their own. By not paying for this component, it may cost you valuable time on set, and may cost you the loss of a shot or two. For any given situation, we will always quote based on what will achieve the best result, and we can think about ways to scale the project back from there if necessary.

It’s worth taking this information into account when receiving a quote that might be a little higher than you were expecting. Every cost included in our quotes is an investment in the quality of your content.

STEP 2. Supply Visual References

Almost always, it’s possible to draw inspiration from other works in order to create a mood board. Below are some creative choices to think about when putting together a list of visual references that are invaluably helpful to us:

Camera Movement
You like the way the camera movement helps to tell a story, or you might even be able to reference the camera angles used in an interview setting, for instance.

Edit Structure
You like the way another piece might be cut together as a montage, the amount of breathing room and space between dialogue or pace of the general action.

You can supply references that have music or a general tone to it, similar to what you require.

Do you like the way the sound of another piece ignites the senses? Is it relevant to your film in some way perhaps?

Colour / Grade
Do you like the kind of “filter” or look of the footage you’ve seen elsewhere? Getting a sense for your tastes can help us down the line when it comes to the colour grading process.

STEP 3. Know Your Locations

Knowing where you want to film, or at least the kind of location/s you would like to feature, can impact the logistics of a shoot quite dramatically. It’s also important for us to know whether locations and access can be supplied, or whether this will require location scouting and management on our side.

STEP 4. Talent vs. Non-Talent

Talent is, hands down, the hardest component to quote out on a project. There is no rulebook or chart on how much talent can cost you (we’ll cover a bit of this later on), but it’s important for the video production company to know whether you will be supplying the talent, or whether the shoot will require casting of any kind (voiceover artists included).

STEP 5. Be As Specific As Possible

And lastly, here’s one final fill-in-the-blanks checklist to consider upon briefing your production team:

We do / do not require audio. ____________________________________________
We do / do not require a second or third camera (if you're not sure we can always advise you on this) ____________________________________________
The number of expected filming locations are ____________________________________________
The number of setups within each location include ____________________________________________
The video will be guided by voiceover / speaker-to- camera / graphics / other ____________________________________________
All of the required outputs include (Eg. 1 x 30 sec edit, 1 x 15 sec edit) ____________________________________________
The deadline for the final deliverables is ____________________________________________

By working through this information, we hope that we’ve given you some food for thought when it comes to your next production.

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