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Observations from working in the business of content creation. (Music Videos, Commercials, Social )

BigDaddyKane

Contributor
Jan 19, 2011
51
79
128
Hey all, I work in the business of creating video and film content for musicians, businesses & brands, and sometimes I just make films for fun with my closest friends.

I'm not a director in the usual sense. That's usually the question I get from people. Instead, I produce. I handle the logistics, budgeting, compliance, and overall project management for video shoots and the clients that are paying for them. A general liason between all involved parties/creatives.

I've been fortunate enough to have been a part of hundreds of music video and commercial shoots. Some you may or probably have even seen.

More importantly, what this has given me is incredible insight on the inner workings of what it takes to put together a fully scaled brand commercial or other video content/storytelling. As a result, I am constantly studying the landscape of what we know as media, content creation and storytelling. Most importantly, the relationships, structures and models between that and - sales, brand development, psychology, and much more.

And, for about the last 3 years as I've soaked up everything in my path, I look back and realize that I have a sense of pride in what I've learned in this world of film/media production. But I"m also extremely hungry for more progress. I know I can only progress if I do my part in helping others progress. And so this thread was born.

Personally, I don't separate "work" with "personal" life because I focus on doing things that I want to do and spend time with people who I want to be with. People who inspire me. So consequently, much of my time is spent in an environment where there is an insane amount of collaboration of ideas from people of all types. Directors, entrepreneurs, product developers, talent agencies, musicians, visual artist and much more.

So this thread is for anyone who wants to ask questions that relate to media, content creation (of any type), social media, storytelling from my perspective as a producer!

Really hoping to get deep with this.

I really enjoy what I do - and the same excitement I get by being around and creating with my closest business/industry partners on a daily basis I think exists here.
 

hustlebear

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Dec 17, 2018
15
25
25
Hey BDK! Read your other progress thread and it's really inspiring stuff! You actually sound a lot like me - the excitement about collaboration, entrepreneurship, and storytelling. I'm actually in the infant stages of starting my own video business with my friend. He's definitely the technical/director while I would be handling the logistics/budgeting like you mentioned. I didn't know that was called a producer!

My journey at the moment... I'm working a 9-5 as a physiotherapist currently and doing the video production as a side gig. Our angle is going to be focused on healthcare businesses (dentists, chiros, physios etc) We filmed our first pro bono client last weekend and after that I will be sending cold outreach on linked in. We don't have a website or any backend work completed. I was thinking of using the finished pro bono website as a testimonial/ proof of concept before reaching out to other clients.

What do you suggest I do with regards to cold outreach? What has worked for you? emails? phone calls? in person ?

Thanks man
 

BigDaddyKane

Contributor
Jan 19, 2011
51
79
128
Hey BDK! Read your other progress thread and it's really inspiring stuff! You actually sound a lot like me - the excitement about collaboration, entrepreneurship, and storytelling. I'm actually in the infant stages of starting my own video business with my friend. He's definitely the technical/director while I would be handling the logistics/budgeting like you mentioned. I didn't know that was called a producer!

My journey at the moment... I'm working a 9-5 as a physiotherapist currently and doing the video production as a side gig. Our angle is going to be focused on healthcare businesses (dentists, chiros, physios etc) We filmed our first pro bono client last weekend and after that I will be sending cold outreach on linked in. We don't have a website or any backend work completed. I was thinking of using the finished pro bono website as a testimonial/ proof of concept before reaching out to other clients.

What do you suggest I do with regards to cold outreach? What has worked for you? emails? phone calls? in person ?

Thanks man
That’s great! Good you started on your first video, like any industry your portfolio of past work is key. Have you offered one to your current place of work? I guess this depends on if you want them knowing you’re dabbling in other areas lol

As far as outreach and sales. All of the above. I definitely prefer to reach out on the phone and cold call. In fact, that was a main strategy of mine - specifically in the creative industry because most creatives are afraid to pick up the phone. But emails and even cold walk-ins have absolutely had an effect. My first big record label client was a from a cold walk-in in Atlanta. Do everything.

That being said, if you focus on making sure that all your work is the best quality, it will literally do all the selling. It’s so easy to make stuff like everyone else. So as a producer and the business mind behind it make sure that your partner/director takes the quality of the work seriously. I would say hands down the reason we were able to get the larger accounts so quickly was because I knew my strengths and I stayed in my lane. I never questioned the creative side of my creative partner. He was a self taught master at what he did. I focused on making sure that we had the best quality by making sure he had the resources to do what he did best. One of the biggest hurdles that content creators/creatives face is getting companies and clients to believe in what they're capable of and getting the big money to play with. This is why I focused completely on pitching the skills of my partner and convincing brands to give us the funds to create what he knew he could do. In this way, I was almost like his agent. Hope this helps, I know it's broad but ask away and I'll answer as best as I can!
 

Bekit

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 13, 2018
268
1,155
354
Hey all, I work in the business of creating video and film content for musicians, businesses & brands, and sometimes I just make films for fun with my closest friends.

I'm not a director in the usual sense. That's usually the question I get from people. Instead, I produce. I handle the logistics, budgeting, compliance, and overall project management for video shoots and the clients that are paying for them. A general liason between all involved parties/creatives.

I've been fortunate enough to have been a part of hundreds of music video and commercial shoots. Some you may or probably have even seen.

More importantly, what this has given me is incredible insight on the inner workings of what it takes to put together a fully scaled brand commercial or other video content/storytelling. As a result, I am constantly studying the landscape of what we know as media, content creation and storytelling. Most importantly, the relationships, structures and models between that and - sales, brand development, psychology, and much more.

And, for about the last 3 years as I've soaked up everything in my path, I look back and realize that I have a sense of pride in what I've learned in this world of film/media production. But I"m also extremely hungry for more progress. I know I can only progress if I do my part in helping others progress. And so this thread was born.

Personally, I don't separate "work" with "personal" life because I focus on doing things that I want to do and spend time with people who I want to be with. People who inspire me. So consequently, much of my time is spent in an environment where there is an insane amount of collaboration of ideas from people of all types. Directors, entrepreneurs, product developers, talent agencies, musicians, visual artist and much more.

So this thread is for anyone who wants to ask questions that relate to media, content creation (of any type), social media, storytelling from my perspective as a producer!

Really hoping to get deep with this.

I really enjoy what I do - and the same excitement I get by being around and creating with my closest business/industry partners on a daily basis I think exists here.
I'll take you up on the chance to ask a question.

Let's say I'm launching a book. I want a book trailer. I'm a copywriter, so let's say I write the script for my book trailer video. (Let's just assume for the purpose of this example that the script is actually good. Not saying that's a valid assumption to make, but the heart of my question has a different focus.)

But then, I'm very much NOT a video person. Not even remotely. So I don't know what I don't know.

And I blythely say to myself, "Oh, I'll just save money and record this on my mobile phone and stitch it together myself with my Camtasia software. Maybe it'll be a little rough, but will it really hurt me that much??"

So... I'm curious, what am I missing out on by going that route? What details am I not seeing? Can you talk a little bit about the ways that people outside your industry fail to realize the value of a high-quality production?

Please note: I'm asking this to learn, not to be combative or argumentative. I know that people who are outside the copywriting field often make the mistake of saying, "Wow, that sure is expensive, I'll write it myself at that rate," but they don't know that they're falling short of bigger results they could have gotten. I assume that there's a similar effect in place when it comes to video storytelling, and I'm thinking your perspective can fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge.

Thanks in advance!!
 

BigDaddyKane

Contributor
Jan 19, 2011
51
79
128
But then, I'm very much NOT a video person. Not even remotely.
I think it’s worth going into this idea further. All videos start in the written form, and you are a copywriter (so as you mentioned - let’s assume that this skill you hold contributes to the quality of your trailer script).

So all things equal, I would say that if you have a truly solid message/story to tell then you’ve got the most important part down.

That being said, every element of a script becomes a physical element of a filmed video. These elements (props, dedicated actors/models, locations, etc.) cost money. But for every element that is added or included, you are increasing what we call the production value and in theory should be increasing the emotional impact of the viewer either equally or exponentially.

Here’s where you’re question of what you’re missing out on comes in. It’s a great question because it actually got me thinking. I will create a more in depth answer for you and everyone else on this soon. The short answer is - it depends. It depends on the specific outcomes that you want for the particular video. As a disclaimer, I am somewhat biased given this is the world I work in, but that said, I would still hate leaving it up to chance.

So... I'm curious, what am I missing out on by going that route? What details am I not seeing? Can you talk a little bit about the ways that people outside your industry fail to realize the value of a high-quality production?
I actually think that most people “outside” of the industry do realize the value of a high-quality production. The problem is merely a lack of knowledge on what it actually takes logistically and labor wise to create a “full scale video”. The best projects in my experience are the ones where there are many people involved, each contributing their specific skill. Writers, VFX artist, Editors, etc. For example, on every one of my projects budgets I include a line item for a colorist. The colorist ONLY color grades the footage. Is this worth spending the money on? In my opinion, it is. If you were to actually sit down with one of these people they would blow your mind on the emotional difference that something as simple as coloring can do to a message. Now, if I have a set budget and it were between that and high quality audio, well, I would go with a better audio solution/equipment because audio quality is one of if not the most important pieces. Again, every one of these decisions requires a cost-benefit analysis.

This is why setting a budget and sticking to it is important. One of the very first questions I ask every client before moving on a project is “what is your budget?”. Some people don’t like this question and I understand why, but in the world of production - the possibilities are almost unlimited, so you have to go in with your own set limit.

Let’s define what a high quality production actually means. As I said before, every element contributes to the production value, the question is which ones are most important and which ones will make the biggest impact on sales, or whatever your goal is. Here’s what I think:

Script/Story - Without a great message or competing story then you’re missing the point. The creative aspect in my opinion IS the value proposition. Equipment, software, shiny props, all that matters but without a great creative behind it, it’s all in vein.

Audio Quality - This imo is absolutely one of the most important. Between this and image quality/camera choice, this wins every time. A well recorded/scored project can “trick” the brain into thinking it’s higher quality than it is if that makes sense.

Image Quality - This one is more subjective. There’s so many options out there and often this decision comes down to what you want and what makes the most sense workflow wise. I’ll make an in depth post going over equipment and camera options here soon. But as a quick example - when I first started, all my videos were done on digital cameras. More recently, I’ve been shooting on analog 16mm cameras. Even though technically this is a “regression” in “quality” (and more expensive), it fits the look and provides the emotion that we’re going for.

Dedicated Talent (Actors) - This would be the aspect that most people overlook as your question stated. If you are the spokesperson for your brand and/or you think that you can deliver the story or message in the best way, then go for it. However, I would say that the majority of people aren’t naturally great in front of the camera for a project that contains a script. Even if it doesn’t have dialogue in it, having someone on board that is comfortable and natural in front of the camera makes a HUGE difference. It will actually save you time and money believe it or not.

Location/Set - Also important and plays a role in budgeting. If your script takes place in a foreign planet, you might want to shoot it in the desert to create that look. Shooting in an urban city might just not make sense in a situation like that. The general rule is that the less locations, the less costly and less time. Take Jason Blum as an example, the majority of his films take place in one location. I think he has a genius formula. And it doesn’t take away from the story.

Editor - Super important. Up there with the story. In fact, a great editor can be the difference between an amazing and a horrible video. If all else fails in the other aspects, a great editor can “save” the project. Ideally, they are on board from the beginning and in communication with the writer or director. Some of the best directors were editors first.

Colorist - Important but not a deal breaker per se. You can learn to color yourself within most editing programs. In Adobe Premiere Pro it would be in Lumetri Looks. You can also download a number of pre made LUTS (short for Look Up Tables). The top guys color using programs like Davinci Resolve.

Set Design/Props - This one is important but also adds a significant cost in the overall budget of most projects. This includes props within the video and the general “environment”. It doesn’t have to be crazy. It can be as simple as renting a vintage car. Look at the movie Green Book for example, a significant part of the film takes place in a 1962 Cadillac Deville, and I would say that it absolutely adds to the production value and mood of the film. It wouldn’t make nearly as much sense if they used a Tesla.

All of these are highly subjective decisions that take place in any project. And so it really comes down to what your goals are. It’s very analogous to business building in that every purchasing decision has a cost-benefit analysis. In that sense, you’ll understand. In my opinion it absolutely makes sense to spend the necessary funds to make a video. At the end of the day - it is a representation of your brand and whether you’re in the start up stage or established I think every business should EVENTUALLY have a high-quality video that incorporates all the above elements above to the best of their ability. I think it makes sense to do so from the beginning. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. The difference between a $500 video and a $4000 video can be huge, and I think is well worth it. Like in anything there is a point of diminishing returns. I’ve seen producers bid on projects for $300k that I could easily create for $40k.

I know it’s a bit all over the place but I’m looking forward to making an in-depth overview on all this stuff.

I didn’t ask - what is the book you’re releasing about? You don’t have to share the details here if you don't want but I’d like to get practical with this and actually apply it. I'll be able to get into further detail with the stuff above. PM me if you like and I can create a breakdown. Would love to post it here for everyones benefit.
 
Last edited:

Bekit

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 13, 2018
268
1,155
354
I think it’s worth going into this idea further. All videos start in the written form, and you are a copywriter (so as you mentioned - let’s assume that this skill you hold contributes to the quality of your trailer script).

So all things equal, I would say that if you have a truly solid message/story to tell then you’ve got the most important part down.
It did occur to me after I wrote my post that unless I truly understand video production at a deep level, I won't be able to write the best script—even if I am a copywriter—and your response confirms that.

There's so much to learn, and I deeply appreciate you taking the time to write such a clearly broken-down post. REP++!

That being said, every element of a script becomes a physical element of a filmed video. These elements (props, dedicated actors/models, locations, etc.) cost money. But for every element that is added or included, you are increasing what we call the production value and in theory should be increasing the emotional impact of the viewer either equally or exponentially.

Here’s where you’re question of what you’re missing out on comes in. It’s a great question because it actually got me thinking. I will create a more in depth answer for you and everyone else on this soon. The short answer is - it depends. It depends on the specific outcomes that you want for the particular video. As a disclaimer, I am somewhat biased given this is the world I work in, but that said, I would still hate leaving it up to chance.
I can't wait for your more in-depth answer. Super interested to read more. Very, very enlightening so far.


I actually think that most people “outside” of the industry do realize the value of a high-quality production. The problem is merely a lack of knowledge on what it actually takes logistically and labor wise to create a “full scale video”.
Oh my goodness, you're right! hit the nail on the head!

The best projects in my experience are the ones where there are many people involved, each contributing their specific skill. Writers, VFX artist, Editors, etc. For example, on every one of my projects budgets I include a line item for a colorist. The colorist ONLY color grades the footage. Is this worth spending the money on? In my opinion, it is. If you were to actually sit down with one of these people they would blow your mind on the emotional difference that something as simple as coloring can do to a message. Now, if I have a set budget and it were between that and high quality audio, well, I would go with a better audio solution/equipment because audio quality is one of if not the most important pieces. Again, every one of these decisions requires a cost-benefit analysis.
Wow, that makes total sense. Just like in marketing - I think the best projects are the ones where many people contribute a skill that's their specialty (Google Adwords, Design, Copywriting, SEO, etc.)

This is why setting a budget and sticking to it is important. One of the very first questions I ask every client before moving on a project is “what is your budget?”. Some people don’t like this question and I understand why, but in the world of production - the possibilities are almost unlimited, so you have to go in with your own set limit.
I think this is where a lot of fear comes in. I say to myself, "I should get a high-quality video produced." The next thought in my head is, "That's going to be expensive." And the very next thought is, "I have no idea how expensive." And immediately after that, "Never mind, I'll just do whatever silly little production I can pull off."

It's kind of like the fear of taking my vehicle to the mechanic and saying, "Would you give my car an all-over examination and tell me if you think there's anything wrong with it?" Of COURSE they're going to find reasons to charge me a huge bill. (Or, at least, that's the stereotype.)

So I think that fear hurts people like me, simply because we don't have a clue what goes into a high-quality production. We don't know what it means. But now that you've described it to me, I'm thinking way more in terms of, "Cool, I think I would like to set a budget that can afford a colorist" and way less in terms of, "Uh oh, am I going to be fleeced?"

Let’s define what a high quality production actually means. As I said before, every element contributes to the production value, the question is which ones are most important and which ones will make the biggest impact on sales, or whatever your goal is. Here’s what I think:

Script/Story - Without a great message or competing story then you’re missing the point. The creative aspect in my opinion IS the value proposition. Equipment, software, shiny props, all that matters but without a great creative behind it, it’s all in vein.

Audio Quality - This imo is absolutely one of the most important. Between this and image quality/camera choice, this wins every time. A well recorded/scored project can “trick” the brain into thinking it’s higher quality than it is if that makes sense.

Image Quality - This one is more subjective. There’s so many options out there and often this decision comes down to what you want and what makes the most sense workflow wise. I’ll make an in depth post going over equipment and camera options here soon. But as a quick example - when I first started, all my videos were done on digital cameras. More recently, I’ve been shooting on analog 16mm cameras. Even though technically this is a “regression” in “quality” (and more expensive), it fits the look and provides the emotion that we’re going for.

Dedicated Talent (Actors) - This would be the aspect that most people overlook as your question stated. If you are the spokesperson for your brand and/or you think that you can deliver the story or message in the best way, then go for it. However, I would say that the majority of people aren’t naturally great in front of the camera for a project that contains a script. Even if it doesn’t have dialogue in it, having someone on board that is comfortable and natural in front of the camera makes a HUGE difference. It will actually save you time and money believe it or not.

Location/Set - Also important and plays a role in budgeting. If your script takes place in a foreign planet, you might want to shoot it in the desert to create that look. Shooting in an urban city might just not make sense in a situation like that. The general rule is that the less locations, the less costly and less time. Take Jason Blum as an example, the majority of his films take place in one location. I think he has a genius formula. And it doesn’t take away from the story.

Editor - Super important. Up there with the story. In fact, a great editor can be the difference between an amazing and a horrible video. If all else fails in the other aspects, a great editor can “save” the project. Ideally, they are on board from the beginning and in communication with the writer or director. Some of the best directors were editors first.

Colorist - Important but not a deal breaker per se. You can learn to color yourself within most editing programs. In Adobe Premiere Pro it would be in Lumetri Looks. You can also download a number of pre made LUTS (short for Look Up Tables). The top guys color using programs like Davinci Resolve.

Set Design/Props - This one is important but also adds a significant cost in the overall budget of most projects. This includes props within the video and the general “environment”. It doesn’t have to be crazy. It can be as simple as renting a vintage car. Look at the movie Green Book for example, a significant part of the film takes place in a 1962 Cadillac Deville, and I would say that it absolutely adds to the production value and mood of the film. It wouldn’t make nearly as much sense if they used a Tesla.

All of these are highly subjective decisions that take place in any project. And so it really comes down to what your goals are. It’s very analogous to business building in that every purchasing decision has a cost-benefit analysis. In that sense, you’ll understand. In my opinion it absolutely makes sense to spend the necessary funds to make a video. At the end of the day - it is a representation of your brand and whether you’re in the start up stage or established I think every business should EVENTUALLY have a high-quality video that incorporates all the above elements above to the best of their ability. I think it makes sense to do so from the beginning. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. The difference between a $500 video and a $4000 video can be huge, and I think is well worth it. Like in anything there is a point of diminishing returns. I’ve seen producers bid on projects for $300k that I could easily create for $40k.
This is so so so so so amazing! MIND. BLOWN. Thank you for taking the time to describe all that. I learned a lot.

I didn’t ask - what is the book you’re releasing about? You don’t have to share the details here if you don't want but I’d like to get practical with this and actually apply it. I'll be able to get into further detail with the stuff above. PM me if you like and I can create a breakdown. Would love to post it here for everyones benefit.
My book is for a super tiny niche market. What I think would be more helpful for everyone on the forum is if you take a well-known book that's of general interest and break down how you'd apply it - maybe something like Principles by Ray Dalio, or a book you've worked on yourself, or even Unscripted...

Whatever you decide to share, I'm sure it will be an eye-opening, valuable learning experience for lots of people!
 
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NovaAria

Contributor
Jul 18, 2018
36
71
112
Thank you for the thread. How much freedom do your clients give you, especially the big buck ones? Do they bring their own script, with their own marketing people hovering over the director's shoulder? Or do they simply give you information about the product/story they want to tell you, give you keypoints, and then simply greenlight the script you come up with?
 
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