When looking for production companies in Atlanta, it’s important to ask yourself these seven questions before starting a relationship with them.
Is their work great?
The very first thing you should do when looking for a video production company is visit their website. The website and the content presented on it are your first clue. If the website sucks, chances are the video production company that owns it also sucks. If you’re in video business, image (moving images, so be precise) is everything! If the website makes a solid first impression, it’s time to look at the company’s demo reel.
A demo reel (or “show reel”) is one of the most important indicators of the level of capability of a particular production company. When you are watching the reel, look for a wide variety of content. If the video producer is only showing clips from the same four pieces over and over again for two minutes, it’s likely that those are the only four things they’ve produced recently and they haven’t done much else. Let’s be honest: at one point, many years ago, we were a new video production company working in Atlanta, with only a few good clips to show. You have to start somewhere, and we understand and respect that. However, the size and variation of the body of work speaks volumes about a production company’s abilities. Not much content? Not much experience.
What kind of clients do they work with?
When you’re watching the demo reel, you’re likely to notice brands or products you recognize. That’s a good thing! That typically means that the video production company has been selected by an agency, or the brand itself, to do the video production, post production, or both. Larger companies and brands are much more picky about who they work with and their vetting process means they already did the work for you. Be careful though! If the footage looks dated, it’s very possible that the production company no longer has a relationship with the brand, meaning something may have gone sideways. It’s equally likely that the relationship could have just ended because of personnel changes, though, so this can be a tough benchmark to read. The best way to find out for sure? Call and ask for references from a few of their current clients.
How responsive are they?
In today’s content-craving world, you need to make moves quickly. Finding a responsive video production team is critical. There are several ways to test a production company’s level of responsiveness. The first thing I suggest is to send an email/contact form request during normal business hours to see how quickly they respond. When you email us, it’s bizarre to not get a response within ten minutes, let alone an hour. Many video production and post production houses, however, can take over twenty-four hours to get back to you. Frankly, we think this is unacceptable. Another test is to call during business hours. Do they answer right away? How long does it take them to return the call?
How responsive the video production company is at the onset of the relationship will set the tone for your entire relationship.
Do people love working with them?
A video production company’s reputation is very important. In the video business you’re only as good as your last project and word travels fast. It’s important to ask around or look for online reviews to see what people are saying. A word of caution on online reviews: it’s not unheard of for companies to post fake reviews and it’s very hard, if not impossible, to tell the legit ones from the plants. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask the video production company for references. Having a conversation with a current or past client can help you understand what it’s really like to work with the video agency.
Do they possess ALL the skills required to handle your specific project?
Every project is different and it’s important to ensure that the video production company you hire can handle everything, soup-to-nuts. All too often video marketing agencies will say they can do something well when they have never done it before. Hell, we got our start doing just that! The difference, as our clients will attest, is that we would not (and still won’t) let a project fail. We’d stay up four days straight getting it right and delivering on-time. That said, we are also not your normal video production group. It’s important that you look at the video company’s portfolio, check references and ensure they can do what you need for your video project.
How do they handle feedback? (Give feedback on the bid.)
Video production is a very iterative process and feedback is a huge part of a projects eventual success (or failure). It is imperative that the video production company you choose be good at receiving and synthesizing feedback. Unfortunately this can be very tough to evaluate before you engage them. But there is one simple way to test feedback at the onset of the project. When you get your proposal give friendly, constructive feedback on a specific line item and see how they react. Are they defensive? Do they want to understand your issue better? Do they have a thoughtful, sensible answer? Think of this interaction as the foundation of your feedback relationship. In most cases dealing with feedback is a key part of the culture within a video production company.
At ECG Productions we promote honest feedback at every phase of production and encourage it to be given freely from both within the office and from our clients. Feedback is critical to making a successful video and the video production company you choose to work with should understand and respect that. This is not a business for the thin-skinned. You’re putting yourself out there with each cut you deliver and you’ve got to be ready to set your ego aside in favor of making the best possible final product.
Are they passionate?
For most of us (the best of us, in my opinion), this is much more than just a “job”. Making video is a creative and artistic endeavor and every project should be looked at as an opportunity to communicate a message to your viewers in an engaging, entertaining and effective way. With over 30,000 messages hitting the average person everyday in a myriad of different formats and mediums, your video needs to be able to cut through the clutter.
A passionate video production team will naturally strive for this. They’ll want to create messaging that people care about, a visual story that elicits a feeling. At the end of the day, video professionals are visual artists. If they are not passionate, they likely are not making great art. If they are not making great art then no one will want to sit through your video. That means nobody is receiving the message you’re paying good money to send. Passion is critical.