Experienced video production company lessons
Here’s what we have learned over the past decade. Dang, getting old.
This blog post is a way to try and share those with anyone interested in getting into video production or looking for a top-rated, award winning, super bad ass production company. Let’s also add that 2020 was a hell of a year to try to do anything especially make video assets for a living. So here are 10 lessons for the 10 years we have been doing this. Let’s begin.
Relationships are everything.
Video production is a team sport. It doesn’t really matter where you went to school unless at that school you made some really awesome relationships. You’re gonna have to depend on your executive producers, line producers, agents, business managers, agency reps etc, cinematographers, on-camera talent, agency creatives, studio producers, you name it. Be the type of person you want to attract. No one is good enough to be a jerk and get away with it forever. Make good solid relationships and nurture them. Side note: if you’re in film school, attempt to make relationships with everyone at the expense of your grades… no one that matters cares about your GPA. Make friends, not good grades.
Your reel is your business card.
As a creative, in the video production world, your reel (+ relationships) is all you have to help you land gigs. The only way you’re ever going to pick up a job is if someone trusts the fact you have already done the job they want you to do. It seems really stupid and backwards, but thats how it works. If you have never worked with animals, its going to be hard to get the director role for that commercial spot that features tigers. Same with cars, food, or comedy. Your reel is the only insurance you are the right person for the job. Ultimately people want to know you have done it before, before they let you do it for them… good thing is all you need is a camera and a computer to make proof of your abilities. Or you can go back to read number one (relationships) and get jobs with your cousin’s wife who works at the zoo.
Equipment doesn’t matter.
When we first got into production we were all kind of gear junkies. We love the new cameras , old lenses re-housed, all of the tech associated with video production. It is very cool and there are lots of things that are worth investing in. But really, all of the gear doesn’t matter. There’s not enough dynamic range or resolution in any image sensor to make your videos better than the person pressing the record button. If somebody is going to pay you to create a video for them, they want a storyteller. And that is the craft that everybody needs to get better at. The real mastery comes when you can combine touching, emotional storytelling with a highly technical and beautiful image. So don’t worry about the gear. The best camera out there is the one that you have. And it’s the one in your pocket
This is the video production business. BUSINESS. There are a ton of people out there that are going to take any job that they can. No matter what. And there are good reasons to take a cheap job. But that’s a different topic for a different day. What I mean is, if you’re going to be successful in this business, you have to be in business. That means you have to be making money. You have to be spending less than you are paid. Because no matter how much you love making videos, if you’re not making money you’re going to work at Home Depot or become a landscaper pretty quickly. Make a living off of the thing you have to do. Do your homework, due diligence and know what you need to charge to make it work. ALSO, if you’re a client looking for someone to pickup your project, understand that you get what you pay for.
Clients are difficult.
Clients have always been difficult. They are difficult for everybody. They always think they’re right. They hired you to be a professional. Therefore, be a professional. Be the expert. Don’t offer advice on their product. Ask questions. Offer solutions that can help. Some clients are awesome, but it often takes years of building trust… because the client probably thinks video production people are difficult. Help to provide something of value that helps them make money and you will have a client for life… until they hire a new CMO who has an old roommate that makes videos too. Always and forever, the video production “business” is about business. Helping people make money. Understand your clients needs. Understand some clients purchase quality and some just purchase price. Educate them. Walk with them. AND FIRE THEM if you have to.
Know yourself well.
If you are a creative in this business, know what you’re good at. If you’re really good as a visual storyteller, don’t take any job it requires a skilled sense of comedy. It’s OK not to be good at everything. The world has few unicorns. It’s some times better to turn down a job than to try and fail. Because in taking the job, you make a promise you can accomplish the task. SO know what your strengths are and what you’re weaknesses are. Hire your weaknesses.
There’s no better way for you to have a relationship go sour and cost you a project than being dishonest. You have to be able to accomplish what you promised. You have to be able to do what you said you were going to do and for the price that you said you were going to do it for. Communication is key. But even more important is honest communication transparency and over communicating goes along way in the process of helping everybody win.
Find a good accountant.
The worst part of being in business, is running a business. You can escape taxes when you die. But up until then, you have to “keep your money right”. The best way to do it, is to find a good accountant who knows what they’re doing, or at the very least can provide really solid advice to help you get it straightened out. Do not get into tax trouble. Don’t even mess with it. You’ll sleep better at night. The end.
Keep your priorities straight.
The video production process is first and foremost a creative one. It becomes nearly impossible to shut off the creative juices sometimes and it can be really difficult to keep a good work life balance. But it’s critical. Believe it or not, there are more important things in life and getting the perfect shot, telling the perfect story, winning any award, or landing any job. You can go back to see number one… relationships are all that matter. Take care of your friends take care of your family, love the people that you work with. And ALWAYS treat them right.
You’ve probably heard it before and we will re-iterate it again, but it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Being a production company, and producing high-quality video assets, is super fun. None of us here at House of Sticks feel like we have a job because we love what we do so much. But we keep on pushing to always do better. The road will be hard there will be lots of disappointments, there will be lots friction between the people you work with, there will be lots of failures, but keep going. We have learned the key to success often times equates to how long you can hold on to the rope. Being a creative is awesome fun. We love it and enjoy every minute and want to try to help others along the way.
Hope you enjoyed the read. If you are a video production professional, and are looking for a media company in the Dallas Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston areas of Texas or in Miami, House of Sticks is always looking for high quality folks to join the team. Click on the button in the nav… we also have great internship opportunities.
If you are a potential client looking for a corporate films or affordable broadcast productions and a very high-level leave a message and we will do our best to get back quickly and make some magic happen.
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