Is a statement I hear a lot from clients. "Of course it is! You want your video to look nice don't you? " Is what I never tell a client. What I am trying to provide a is the experience. It's a video production package. A small crew to build a set for your commercial or promotional piece. It's going to look and feel professional. You will leave satisfied because of the final result.
So I quit my job in 2014 to run a business so how did we get our financing? I had a nice 401k building at my old job so most of that went into financing what would become our "production package" (no pun intended) Listen, I believed in what we had and I went for it. So what did we include in our repertoire ? Well, the DSLR boom had exploded so we thought about going that route because the higher end production cameras like the RED and ARRI were way to expensive and would wipe out our budget. We needed to be able to get other high end production gear such as lights and audio equipment. If we were going to run this as a 2 man team in the beginning we needed to be able have all the equipment necessary to provide the client with a high end video production. We went with the Canon C100, a beautiful camera built for on the go productions. When you are a small crew handling many aspects of production a camera like this goes a long way because it's built to film all day without delays. Doing the research we went with a Sennheiser shotgun and Lav mic, both excellent for top quality sound and a Kino-Flo light with smaller Arri lights for background. The extra cash went towards utility equipment and specialty items to enhance the production value for our clients.
You have to be smart when buying. Don't waste all your money on a fancy camera with no sound or lights, it just doesn't look right. Yeah you can hire someone for their lights and sound equipment, but remember I am coming from the angle of starting a production company where we learned multiple skill sets to be competitive in getting work.
Now I am going to be honest with you, once we had most of our production equipment and were ready for business we had no clue how to get the clients. Erik had developed a relationship with 2 clients from his freelance days that opened up opportunities for the business later but at the time of purchasing all this gear we had nothing to film. What the hell do we do? We did what any red-blooded american would do with camera equipment, we made short films and sketches. Now before you go and shake your head hear me out. Doing these short films and sketches actually helped our video production business. With limited locations and actors being short on time or cancelling last minute we had to think on our feet constantly. We would have to rewrite scripts improvise to make schedules work all while making sure camera, lights and sound were on. This was our film school and we had fun doing it. Having to think on our feet because options were limited or schedules conflicted was a great learning experience to take with us into doing corporate client work. We were never going to get the huge commercial type clients at this stage of our business. Our focus was to get smaller corporate type clients and give them the big production look. The only issue for us was that their budgets were usually small and an issue would always arise. Issues like last minute cancellation of a location or a scheduling change that would alter the production day. We had to improvise and not fold under pressure. There's only two of us so if one of us folds then we were screwed.
So in hindsight, getting to "play" around with all the gear before getting a client benefitted us by getting used to the equipment, how it worked, troubleshooting, and also giving us ideas of what other gear we needed for certain situations. We learned our skill sets when on set but most importantly it helped with our time management. These short films and sketches everyone is giving their time for no pay, you do not want to waste time so you try and film what you need and get everyone wrapped up. The same goes for any paid production gig. Your client is paying you to capture moments candid or scripted but everything is on a schedule. Time is money not only for you but the client. Manage your time wisely.
Stay tuned for the next blog, I'll talk about our first "real" gig
Thank you for taking the time to read. I will answer video related comments if you leave them.
Yours truly Jesse