I have produced over 700 short web video “marketing documentaries” for all manner of clients throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois. These videos have been placed on websites such as Dex, Facebook, as well as many homesites for the businesses themselves. I have to say that less than 10% of those clients were fully prepared for the shoot when I arrived for the production. As various agencies were often handling the booking, I can’t speak to what may have been lost before my arrival, but I can talk about happened as soon as I walked in the door with my cart full of production gear. Here are some nuggets of wisdom I can share.

Take a cold look at your business and how it will look on camera.

Often times it helpful to look at your work through the eyes of a stranger. In this case, try to imagine how your space looks to someone who is walking in the door who doesn’t know you or your business. What will they see? What do you want them to see?

Once your videographer is there it is too late to make major changes. You can clean a desk, move a couple of signs, but you can’t do a deep clean or completely re-arrange your space. When I am at a shoot, I will do everything I can to make your space look cool, but I can’t make a web video of how people wish it would look.

Have realistic expectations about the final web video, ask if you aren’t sure.

I walked into one shoot, and the first thing the client contact said to me was “Are you IT? I was told their would be a video crew.” While I can’t say what conversation he had with the agency, I do know that the budget for that particular shoot was well below the threshold for a full production crew.

On another occasion, the client was prepared, BUT they offered me a script and a stack of storyboards as soon as I let go of my gear cart. The boards were complete with complicated tracking and crane moves, as well as lighting suggestions that demanded the weather be VERY accommodating. I did the best I could with the gear I had in my cart, but once again, the expectation were far above the budget and what I had prepped for.

A conversation between client and videographer that leads to a clear understanding of the expectation and goals of the web video can only help make the video better.

Try not to be nervous during the video shoot.

Usually the on-camera speaker is someone who works in the business and likely the owner or manager themselves. I have plenty of horror stories of speakers locking-up, soaked in sweat, or being unable to form complete sentences even after being prompted one line at a time. I know it’s hard to suddenly be the person on-camera and be the voice of the business.
However, all the video crew is asking you to do is be the person that the customer will see when they do business with you. By choosing to be in the video, you are automatically creating a kind of web video wherein you don’t need actors or professional spokesmodels. You are making a video that shows what your business is really like on a daily basis. Hence the “documentary” part of “marketing documentary”.

Try to think of the camera and videographer as a customer that has just walked in the door. How do you present yourself to them? How do you talk to them? That’s all we really need. We’ve even got microphones so you don’t need to reach the “cheap seats”.

Happily, my own approach to creating these videos benefits from these years of making videos with all sorts of clients. With “Brandeo“, I build in some pre-production steps that takes the guess work out of getting these videos made, and promises a much better result for everyone.

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TWVS: MN Video Production + Content Creation