Creative Video Production: The Definitive Guide

An image from a film set used to evoke creative video production by Vermillion Films Creative Video Production Company Birmingham

What do we mean by creative video production? The guide below could be applied to any production but as a commercial and corporate video production company we figured this would be best for films used for business. So, commercials, promotional films, marketing videos, sales films or even training films. Any version of these that requires a creative response.

1. BE CLEAR IN THE BRIEF​

Being creative can be hard. Anything you (the client) can do to make it easier means the time you’re paying for is being used more efficiently. A completely open brief means the area we have to search for a good idea is very big. A clear brief narrows it down; the more clear then the more narrow the search.
An infographic explaining different styles of brief. By Vermillion Films Creative Video Production Company in Birmingham

The diagram shows a bunch of different elements that could be included in a brief, all with varying levels of detail and usefulness. It’s possible that you, the client, commissioning some creative video production, won’t know where to start. But that’s fine. There’s no right answer about which one is the correct level of detail; too detailed and maybe you limit the opportunity for creative people to help. Not enough detail and you risk wasting time exploring dead ends. But you’ll be able to tell how good your chosen production company is by how well they help you interrogate your own brief. They should be able to ask you solid, detailed questions about not just what your answers are, but why? The end of this process will be a much clearer idea for you and the production company about what you want to make.

If you’re not sure where to start you can download this video briefing template you can download from here or complete this video brief online form. Our showreel video for sports agency SOTIC benefitted from a very clear brief, but still with room to maneouvre creatively.

And if you’re still not sure then you wouldn’t be the first client who didn’t really know what they wanted until they saw what they didn’t want. That’s life, but see point 7.

2. TRUST, BUT VERIFY

Ronald Reagan wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he coined that phrase. Many video budgets are more than the average annual salary and you wouldn’t employ someone without checking their references. So check out who you’re working with. The reason this is important is that it is more common than you think for creative people to elevate their creativity above the needs of your brief and this can make them very hard to work with. But any company worth their salt will have clients willing to say great things about them, so take advantage of other people’s experiences. 

3. DON'T TRY AND DO TOO MUCH

A graphic that shows too many messages in advert by Vermillion Films TV Advertising Video Production Company in Birmingham

The more you throw at the wall the less likely any of it is to stick. This is a tricky one for companies working at the lower end of the budget scale where any one video is a big chunk of the annual marketing budget. But that should help crystallise the important messages.

But another dimension to this is that the number of outputs from any given video shoot has been on an upward trend for years. If a shoot has to provide content for the main creative idea, but also work on twitter, Instagram main reels and stories, then either you need to shoot more to accommodate it, or risk compromising the main shoot for a variety of reasons to ensure it works on multiple platforms.

4. BE REALISTIC ABOUT BUDGET

An infographic how cost is a function of risk in creative video production. By Vermillion Films Creative Video Production Company in Birmingham

That old saying “out of good, fast and cheap you can only have 2” is generally true for video production. If a company is willing to drop absolutely everything to make your project for a low budget, that should raise some eyebrows. Cost is a function of quality but it’s also a function of risk management.

The number of mission critical tasks on a set stays roughly the same for many projects. Therefore the more people there are on a set means this list of critical tasks is divided between fewer people. That means they can concentrate on a smaller number of tasks and vital elements are less likely to get missed or go wrong.

The most common unit of production is the day. Shoots are x number of days long. If you don’t get it on the day it’s really hard to go back.

5. BE ORIGINAL, WE DARE YOU

The number of (allegedly) creative agencies that come to us and say “we really like this ad we’ve seen, can you do something like this but our budget is only this much” is a disappointingly big number. The end result is just never, ever as good.

But the stuff that is good, truly original is almost always like nothing else you’ve seen. It doesn’t have to be daring or edgy, just a good, fresh idea that’s relevant to your message.

Be clever, be brave and be new. And if you can’t, then let us. Some of our favourite and best work has always been when the client was open to something completely different. Our drinks advertising work for Cotswolds Distillery and our product videos for Samuel Heath are good examples where the client was open to original ideas.

6. BE FIRM BUT FLEXIBLE

The process of creative video production is such that occasionally creative ambition collides with hard reality. Any film crew worth their salt will tie themselves in pretzelly knots to achieve a client’s aim but often they’re fighting for a good idea for a good reason. Some creative friction can be good but  there has to be some flexibility in both directions.  Clients are hard to say no to, so it’s always good to know which parts are worth fighting for.

7. BUT BE NICE TOO

We’re nice, in fact most people are. It’s under-rated. This is going to sound all silly and woke but we believe that people work harder for nice people. It’s how we run our sets and why crew go the extra mile for us as a company. Film director David Fincher argues that creative tension is what makes his films so great. But his budgets are bigger. We find that most problems are caused by poor communication and resolved by good communication.

Ultimately, life’s too short to spend it working with unpleasant people.

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