Chicago Video Production Buyer’s Guide

Chicago Video Production Buyers GuidePicking a Chicago video production company can be a tricky proposition. First, there are a ton of them to choose from. Second, it can be difficult telling them apart. Finally, many don’t list even ballpark prices at their website. That drives me nuts, but more on that later.

I’d like to make it simple on you and say, “Hire Us! Your mission is accomplished.” But that’s just lousy advice. Not because we aren’t good at what we do… we’re actually pretty awesome. No, the reason why is it’s important to shop around and pick the right production company for the right project.

Difference In Production Companies?

Not all production houses are created the same, or equal for that matter, which is why it’s important to find the right fit.

For example, if you need a big production… think lots of lights, multiple videographers and sound technicians, maybe a drone or a crane to get some cool shots… yeah… a crane. Not every production company can pull that off.

On the other hand, let’s say you want a small production crew… or a single videographer… for something that would be less disruptive to daily operations? Maybe you need a company with a strong emphasis on storytelling? That same company that handled the big shoot might not be right for those videos.

If only there was a handy-dandy guide that could help you make sense of all of this. Well, that’s what we aim to do.

First Step: Watch and Listen

Start Googling… every company you look at should have sample work at its website. Check out its previous work.

Insiders Tip:  if they have a single “sample reel” of their work… don’t bother watching. It’s a highlight reel. How’s that going to help you? Instead, watch the client work they’ve posted. We have more guidelines in a previous vlog post if you need more help (Tips For Picking A Video Company).

Also, have they produced a video about themselves telling their own story? What? They haven’t? So a company that produces videos for other organizations doesn’t see the value in producing one on itself? Seems… weird… doesn’t it?

Second Step: Vetting

The next step is vetting them. Who are their clients? The Fortune 500 or mom-and-pop shops? Are their businesses or brands that appear to be the same size as yours? Any that are in related industries?

One of the main things you’ll to want to know is cost. This is going to take some leg work… or at least some time on the phone.

I’m with you… this drive me crazy. Why don’t production companies list their prices!? As someone who started his own production company, let me fill you in. Every project is different, so it’s tough to publish a price list.

However, just because it’s tough, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We manage to post our ballpark prices… even how to figure out video production costI wish more companies would do this for you, but many (most) don’t. That means picking up the phone and asking questions.

Here are some good ones:

  • What will it cost? Tell them what you have in mind for your video and ask how much it will cost. They’ll ask you some questions and should be able to give you some sort of an idea on pricing.

Insider’s Tip: ask them if it’s a fixed cost, or is it possible things will change during production. We’ve had lots of clients burned by other companies in the past because they thought the price in the contract was fixed, but during the production process things were added (more shooting days, special equipment, additional personnel, etc.) all driving up cost without them knowing. Make sure it’s a fixed cost, or the production crew will notify you of any additional costs before they happen.

Another option is to work backwards. Give them your budget and ask what they can do for that amount. I know, a lot of people don’t like to do this because they don’t want to pay more than they have to. I get it, but this method will often get you a more accurate picture of what you get for your money. Also, if you’re shopping around, you’ll be able to compare between companies.

  • Once you have a price, ask them what that gets you. How big of a crew? How many hours will they spend on it?
  • Will they help with content ideas? What about help with storytelling? Some production houses are just that… they’re all about the production and only the production. If you’re providing all the direction on content, this might be fine with you. But if you need a little help, it’s good to know upfront if they can provide some creative ideas.
  • What is their video production process? How long will it take? Every company has a different way of doing things. Find out how each of them works.
  • Are revisions included? Once the video has been edited, it’s important to know if you can make changes. Sometimes making changes costs more. 

Last Step: Get a Written Proposal

Okay… you’ve looked at a bunch of videos and like a particular company’s style. You’re okay with their price estimate and their production process. Now you need a formal proposal.

What you’ll receive will likely put into writing what they’ve told you over the phone. Hopefully, it will also include more details on things like how much time is devoted to each aspect of the production.

Once you sign-off on that, get a contract, sign, and you’re off and running!

You’ve Selected Your Chicago Video Production Company

I hope all of this didn’t sound too daunting. It really shouldn’t be now that you have this trusted guide.

The best part… once you’ve picked the right Chicago video production company for you, it’s time to actually produce the video. And producing videos is fun.

Tony GnauTony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 13 Telly Awards for its work.

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