Advice from 10 video production professionals

Are you interested in making your next video project more effective? We asked 10 producers, directors and more for their advice on making it in the world of video production.

From focusing on the story to being cost conscious, these 10 tips will be useful for anyone involved in making a video, from production crew to marketing managers.

1. You don’t need film school to be a filmmaker

Saint West Filmworks logoOur Director of Photography had dabbled with video in college but it wasn’t what he was studying. I went to school for electrical engineering and our other producer studied journalism and was working in social media marketing before he came to us. We started teaming up to make videos and next thing you know we’re running a business.

Matt Jensen – Producer, Saint West Filmworks

2. Question whether your client actually needs a video

The first thing we ask clients is: “Do you need a video?” We always want to be clear about the problem they’re trying to fix and whether video is the right solution. So many people come to us wanting a video but without any real idea about what they’ll do with it.

Richard Farr – Founder, Digital Video Experts

3. No story should be told from a technical perspective

We’re interested in the story and what we’re communicating rather than the technical approach we’ll use. I spent time as an intern in Hollywood where I got to read a lot of movie scripts and this has influenced how we work. The script is the blueprint and if it’s not on the page, it can’t be on the screen.

Erik Arheden – Executive Producer, UPPERFIRST

4. There are no more rules about how long a video must be

Blue Chalk logoThanks to the internet, there’s suddenly a Wild West of places to consume video with no rules about fitting into the traditional parameters of 60 seconds for an ad or 27½ minutes for a show. Now you just produce whatever works for the story and the short form video format is exploding.

Rob Finch – Creative Director, Blue Chalk

5. The more you plan, the better the video

Our aim is to really understand our clients’ brand, so we know what will work for them and their audience. We always send a questionnaire, asking about the video’s key goals, the story they want to tell, how they would describe the tone of the video and the number one takeaway for the viewer.

Mike Welker – Partner, Flashframe Digital

6. Always looks for smart, simple solutions

We were shooting a commercial that was supposed to take place in a car during rush hour. Rather than take on the expense and hassle of shutting down streets for the shoot, we took over a parking lot, filled it with rented cars and shot the entire commercial there.

Steve Simkins – Director / Producer, North by Northwest

7. Data management is important

We are LAIKA company photoWe used to use FTP for sharing videos externally. With lots of people working in a largely unmanaged shared space, file naming was often arbitrary so finding what you needed was problematic as was protecting sensitive material. It’s worth your time to source and implement a simpler file sharing and collaboration solution in order to streamline your creative process.

Martin Pelham – Manager of Media Services, LAIKA

8. Be cost-effective

We are able to offer our clients a high-end product at a competitive market rate because we have hardly any overheads. We don’t even have an office and work from anywhere like hotel lobbies or co-working spaces in whichever city we’re filming. Digital content creation is changing and so should the way we work.

Mike Collins – Director, Cinema Mercantile

Cinema Mercantile at work

9. Quality content is king

Everyone’s a potential filmmaker. The barriers to entry used to be huge as you needed a lot of money to buy the equipment, but now you can get a laptop and a decent HD camera for less than ten grand and work out of your bedroom. Even smartphones shoot decent quality video. But you still need skill to make a good film and people will pay for quality content.

John Gubba – Founder, VSI TV

SPL Pictures logo10. Cutting corners won’t save you time or money

When I step on set I want to know that we’ve done everything to get the best image and on screen performance possible, because the last thing I want is to spend my client’s post-production budget fixing things. Clients often have a hard time justifying the front end costs of production. It’s your job to help them understand the value and benefits.

Scott Lyman – Founder, SPL Pictures

A simple, smart solution that will help your production studio, ad agency or marketing department take your creative process from concept to completion is Hightail.

To find out more about how features like timestamped video comments and visual versions will make your business more effective, visit

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