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A Successful Video Production is Like a Vacation
by Kenneth Wajda

The first question I often hear when someone inquires about television production is:

"How much does it cost to produce a video?"

I equate that question with going to the travel agent and asking how much a trip is going to cost without mentioning your vacation goals. If the travel agent knew how much you could afford and what kinds of vacations you like, they could offer you a plethora of choices, based on their expertise and experience.

So, let's skip that question, "How much will it cost...?" and let me suggest a pair of alternate questions that work equally well for your travel agent:

"How much do you want to spend?"
(or "What's in your television production budget?")
"Where do you want to go?"
(or "Who is the intended audience for the video?")

Those are much better questions as they focus the discussion on how we can produce the most effective video piece to do what you intend it to do and who you want to reach. Knowing how much in in the budget to work with, we can discuss how best to use that money to increase your bottom line and achieve your communication goals. Because you do have choices "where you go."

Should we produce five 30-second promotional spots or would it better serve your goal if we produce one ten-minute clip that shows the workings of your business and highlights the people and their passion for your product.

People have a short attention span. I graduated college with a mass communications degree and I understand how to most effectively communicate a message. Oftentimes, the shorter the better. Got Milk? Where's the Beef?

Television is a very effective medium to deliver a message—your message. But you want to maximize your budget by putting as much of it on the screen, not in below-the-line production costs that the viewer will never see.

A small restaurant owner might do better spending $400 a month on a consistent series of web TV ads (featuring their own chef) than spending $5000 on one 30-second spot with a celebrity spokesperson.

It all comes down to choices.

When you are a kid and given $5,
you know there are many possibilities for that fiver,
and you consider them all.

Who's the producer? What is their background, their experience? Do you like their production style? (Their work for other businesses is a good indicator of what your piece will look like.)

Do they work with a 15-person or a two-person crew? (There's a time and place for each.)

How much time do you want this production to take? When do you need the final, edited piece? Some producers are notoriously faster or slower, often depending on how they learned the business. In my experience, L.A. filmmakers learn to use big crews and create slow, detailed shoots, like Hollywood. New York filmmakers tend to be quicker, more independent-focused, often using smaller crews and more realistic shooting styles.

HD or Standard Definition? Will it ever play on TV? If it's for the web only, you could save money by not choosing HD.

Will actors and locations be needed? Can you make an effective piece without professional actors? (The answer is often probably not.) Can we simplify the locations or cast? Or does it need to be a grade school classroom full of children. Whatever is best for the audience, the most effective storytelling, is the best choice.

Let's answer the questions and work with your budget to create effective television spots that serve your needs and help your business grow.

So, where do you want to go?


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