Preparing the brief

You could, I suppose, call this the pre-pre-production process since by explaining in as much detail as possible what you want, the purpose of the video, its audience, the budget, you will start to shape the final product.

Take time to think about why you are commissioning the video and what your expectations are for the end result.  The more information you can provide at this stage the more useful it becomes, both to you as the commissioner and to those companies or producers pitching for the job.

  • What is the purpose of the video: To campaign, to raise the profile of your organisation, to appeal for money/volunteers, for training purposes?  Who is the audience for the video: Opinion formers, general public, internal, volunteers?  Each will have particular requirements and will result in different responses and approaches from producers.
  • How are you going to distribute the video i.e. where is your audience likely to see the finished result?  On YouTube? On DVD in a training environment?  I find that it can be helpful to ask this question first as it can shape the answers to the above questions.
  • Be clear about the budget and recognise that in general there is a correlation between ambition and budget.  At the most basic level you are buying time; of course you are buying access to talent, but only for as long as your budget will allow.  Remember the eternal business triangle of Time, Cost and Quality; rarely are all three in perfect harmony.
  • How do you want the video delivered: On DVD?  If so, how many? As a digital file?  Both?
  • Be clear in the tender about the timescale for responding to the pitches you receive and whether there is more than one stage to the tender process.  Also be clear about when and how quickly you want the video produced and delivered.

The clearer you are at this stage in communicating what you want, and why, the greater the likelihood the end result will meet expectations.

One person will see this process through from beginning to end for the production company. It may be a director or a producer, someone combining both roles or, depending on the size of the company, an executive producer/department head.

Whichever it is, this is your key relationship during the process.  Meet them. Make sure you understand each other and the project.  This is about confidence.  The essential question you need to be able to answer is “can they deliver?”

Next: Pre-production


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