Living in the digital age; a multitude of businesses, companies, and individuals are looking for videos for a range of different needs. They are also willing to pay for them!
That’s where a filmmaker comes in. But, how do you find the work, and how do you secure a video production job?
Welcome to The Film Look and episode 1 of the Video Production Guide.
So you’re an aspiring filmmaker, you have a DSLR, a microphone, some lights, and you want to earn some cash by using your skills and equipment to make videos for clients. How do you start?
At first you may have to work for free to gain experience before people will pay you. We had to do this at the start and we would advise to treat this time as a testing ground to see if making videos for other people is a career path you want to go down.
Everyone needs videos making, so contact local museums, artists, events, people getting married, vets, dentists, hairdressers, even make a video about your Gran’s sewing group if you have to!
Once you have a few projects under your belt you can create a showreel to showcase your work. Trea t your showreel the same way you would a CV or resume; show the best shots and don’t make it longer than 1 minute. You want it to be entertaining and it’s better to have a snappy 1 minute video than a boring 3 minute one.
I’m not going to go into the specifics of setting up a business, that's a whole guide in itself. Instead we are going to talk about some of the specifics of setting up a production company.
First you need to pick a name that you will trade under. Our production company is called RGR Film Productions.
Choose a title which is self explanatory. RGR Film Productions is pretty clear that we produce films, RGR Visual Design could be any sort of creative design business; it’s a bit wishy-washy and vague, so pick something with video or film in the title so a client will know exactly what you do.
And spend some time choosing your name too - it’s going to be with you for a long time.
Once you have a name chosen, you should create a Facebook page for the business and eventually a website. This will help people find you and it’s a place to showcase your work. Get Instagram and twitter aswell, but only if you are going to use them.
Seeing dormant twitter feeds that have not been used in 6 months is a lot worse than not having one.
There are lots of inexpensive ways to build your website so don’t stress about it. Wordpress and Squarespace will allow you to create something visual really easy, which is what you should be aiming for. And some advice don’t have a lot of text on your website - your work is visual so show it off.
We are not sponsored by Squarespace, but there are loads of other channels that are and they offer discount codes for the site.
Keep your branding consistent on your website, social media pages and even your business cards. If you have no experience in graphic design there are lots of people out there that can help, some just starting out like you. Trade services if you can.
Business cards are a dime a dozen. A great way to stand out is to have something that’s different from the norm. These were my first set of business cards and they worked, but after a few years I changed them to these. They are a lot more visual and they give a good first impression of what you do.
How to approach businesses
Whilst you are setting up your business you need to be out there finding work, as no one will come to you especially at the start.
Emailing people can work, but you need to make sure you are emailing the right person. Don’t use the first email address that you find on a company's website, firstname.lastname@example.org, you need to be speaking to someone who works in the marketing or advertising departments, these are the people who deal with the people just like you. An easy search on Google like this - Company.com Marketing department will give you the names of the people who work in that department. Karen@company.com
This is a little different for people and businesses who are just one or two man teams. A great way to contact them directly is by messaging them via their Facebook business pages - write this message in the same professional manner you would an email.
Don’t be disheartened if you send 100 emails and only get 10 back, 10 is good. But if you only get 1 email back of someone who is interested, the next step is to meet with them and see how you can work with each other.
Even if this is an unpaid job treat this as a job interview; go smart, be prepared, and listen to what they want.
And most of all, be honest! Don’t pretend to know something you don’t, nobody becomes David Fincher overnight, and you shouldn’t pretend to be.
Other than that, it is all up to you to turn that into a sale.
The more people you speak to, the more work you will get, so get to know people! Referrals are how you are going to get 50% if not more of your work. This means networking, and telling people them what you do.
I hate networking, but it’s necessary. The trick is to really listen to people; who they are and what they do. Don’t try to sell your business yet as they might not need your services, but they might know someone that does.
Last piece of advice will depend on where you live; if there are a lot of art groups, community meeting and talks, go to them and introduce yourself. You will meet people who are very like minded, creative, and someone there will be organising some form of event or workshop...and this is when you can offer to film it for them...it’s a start!
Who needs videos making?
So who needs videos making? Well the short answer is everyone. For this guide we have made two different types of client videos to use as examples.
One was for Sian Jordan Designs, a watercolour artist, and we made a video that explains who she is and what her business does. We call these type of videos ‘Business Stories’.
The second video we made was for Pamplemousse Recording Studio that advertised the services they sell. This is a classic promotional video.
The two videos were created for Pamplemousse Recording Studios. The first one was a 20 second advertisement about the services they offer. The second video was 2 minutes long, and goes into more detail about Jordan the owner of Pamplemousse Recording Studios, we call this type of videos Business Stories.
Recording Studios are just one example of the type of companies you could contact, but there are loads more so let’s talk about them.
These are just two examples of the type of companies you could contact who need videos. There are loads of others so let's talk about them.
Our first client job was working for a museum filming artists creating art out of glass then interviewing them about their work. These jobs taught us how to work with a client, finding out what they need, how to shoot interviews with many different types of people, and turn videos around quickly.
Corporate videos come in many different shapes and sizes. We have already spoken about Business Stories and service based promotional videos, but you also have fundraising videos, factory tours, and high concept videos which have a short film structure and tone to them.
From my experience if you want to make music videos, just advertise that you only make music videos. It’s easier for local bands to find you as they don't have to look through all of the other work you have created. Music videos are a great way to just concentrate on the visual story as the sound has already been recorded for you.
Event videos come under many different categories like locally organised events, music festivals, night clubs videos, and corporate conference events that are not the most interesting but can be turned around quickly.
Filming weddings can pay well and it’s a good way to get used working fast and thinking on your feet (which will hurt as the shooting days will be long and the editing days will be even longer). Just music videos, if you’re going to shoot weddings it might be best to separate your main production company from the wedding side. A bride doesn't need to see how well you can shoot a corporate video, they need to see how well you can capture their special day.
Proposals and Pitching
If a business comes along and says ‘yes they would like a video making’ even if it is for free, or you find out there is an opportunity to apply for a video contract, you will have to write something called a proposal.
A proposal is a formal document that outlines the approach of how you will make the video for them. In the document you will outline about the concept, visual style of the video, the schedule, and cost of the project. In the description below you can find a word template we use to write our proposals, with some examples of what might be written in each section.
After you have spent about a day writing the video production proposal, they may short list you and ask you to go in and pitch the idea. Pitching is like a job interview (which no one likes doing), but my advice is learn your pitch back to front, and be passionate about why you want to use your skills to make them a video.
You will win some jobs and you will lose some, and it sounds daft to say but if you don’t get the job don’t worry about it. Failing to get a job is a learning experience, so send them an email and just be honest about getting feedback to help you learn. They might give you some advice which helps you get the next job.
If you did get the job... congratulations! In the next video we are going to talk about how to prepare for the shoot.
The last piece of advice I would like to give you is this: most people get into making client videos to help fund their short films. There are a lot of people who lose sight of their original goal and turn more into business people than filmmakers. The money can be good, but never lose sight of why you picked up a camera in the first place, and tell the stories you want to tell with the money you have made telling other people's.
The Video Production Guide is a step by step series teaching you the basics of shooting videos for clients.
Episodes released Weekly:
Want to make videos for a client: https://youtu.be/bBkQpobfAjU
How to get the job: https://youtu.be/A1-09ESSZew
How much to charge: https://youtu.be/3Djuh-xTL6Y
Preparing for a client shoot: https://youtu.be/sDbbKaaPjc4
How to shoot an interview: https://youtu.be/8TRdmj0Ao4k
Shooting b-roll: https://youtu.be/RYc2y_dsexI
Editing and Feedback: https://youtu.be/ipMmMp-241o
The Client Video: https://youtu.be/X9VZTuxvT9w
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