In the TV news business, every day in the newsroom starts with a morning meeting to go over story ideas — what’s the focus, which visuals will be included, who will be interviewed, etc.
Think of your project in those terms. Before we get started, we need to gather around a table (or get on the phone) and storyboard the project.
An overview of how the process works at McLeod Media.
How does the production process work?
• What is the goal of the production / film series?
• What is the messaging of the production to support that goal?
• Who are we talking to? That is, who will help tell the story on camera? Our main characters?
• What are the most compelling visuals? What are we going to show to draw the viewer in, so we’re not dealing with a string of “talking heads” without any compelling video to support what they’re saying.
• What do we want the viewer in the audience to feel after watching the film or film series?
• Who makes up the audience, and where do we want to reach them? Through what channels?
• What’s the deadline for the project, and how long should the shelf life be — a year, two years, maybe longer?
These are a few of the basic questions to answer before setting out on a production. Still, there are other questions unique to each project. Once we have a road map for the project, then we start to set up interviews, visuals, shoot locations, an on-site production schedule, and a post-production timeline.
How long does it take?
We’ve had projects start and be turned around in as little as 24-48 hours, others have taken upward of six months to a year. Each project is unique. A general rule: The more something is “rushed,” the more likely it is not to rise to the same level as a project allowed to breathe over a period of several weeks.
Great productions take time. Getting just the right shots can take a second, third, or even fourth trip back to a certain location to get things right (weather can impact this more than most people realize). Sometimes, people need to be re-interviewed, for whatever reasons.
The more you can plan weeks or months in advance, the more likely you are happy to be with your project. (After all, these films are meant to be relevant for a year or longer.)
What makes for the most effective production?
Communication, collaboration, patience, and a willingness to let someone else take artistic ownership of a project that is personal to you.
Sometimes, people are too close to the things for which they want to produce films. They know it so well, they might not realize there are other, perhaps better, ways to tell the story than what they have in their head. They also may not step back to consider: it doesn’t matter how much I like the end production — it matters how the audience likes it. Ultimately, they are our customers.
You should get to know the production company before starting production. You should have a sense of its style, and ask yourself if that style fits your needs and tastes. You should be able to “let go” and let them handle the creative details.
Also, the best productions tend to strike a balance of interviews and compelling visuals. If you have too many talking heads (interviews) without enough video to support them, the production can tend to drag. If you have too much video without enough strong characters on camera, there’s no one for the viewer to relate to and remember.
There should be a balance.
Where can we film?
Anywhere in the world, to whatever extent your budget allows. McLeod Media has a network of award-winning professionals across the United States. If it’s an international project, we can travel, or connect through our friends in the broadcast industry to find the right freelance producer in whatever region of the world we’re trying to reach.
Indoor settings are more easily-controlled against rain, harsh sunlight, noise, etc. But they also can be rather drab unless time is invested in set-up, lighting, arranging a room, etc.
Filming outdoors tends to provide more opportunity for compelling, naturally-occurring (not staged) video. But, we are always at the mercy of weather and excessive noise when filming outside.
How much does it cost?
From reading up to this point, you can see how many factors play in to a production. It is nearly impossible to have a “starting point” budget for all projects, because all projects are different. The best approach is to start a conversation, and tell us about your vision and goals. Let us get to know you, your story, situation, needs, and budget.
And we can find something that works.
All it takes is a phone call, email or text to get started. So, we’ll talk to you soon!
Founder, McLeod Media