You have just finished your script for your short film or promotional video! Congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment and you should be very proud that you've got this part completed. You would not believe how many “writers” can’t even get that far. But you have. Good for you. Now comes the difficult question that you must ask yourself:
Do I make this video by myself? OR…. do I hire a producer to make the video for me?
These are very important questions because there are many variables you must consider before you start.
Personally, I do it all myself. That’s just how I’m built, I can’t wait to get started. With that being said though, by doing it yourself, there are many mistakes and pitfalls you will make that can be avoided if you're aware in advance. By avoiding these traps, you can free up an enormous amount of time and effort to concentrate on the task at hand… which is making your video / movie.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should consider hiring a Video Producer:
1. Production Type: Film or Promotional Video?
If you are making your first short of feature film, then I strongly urge you to consider hiring a producer. By hiring a producer, one with experience, will take so much pressure off of you that you will thank your lucky stars that you hired them. They will take care of so many small problems that come up…and they will come up. Every Day!
That is the nature of filmmaking and production. It is challenging every day, and you need to concentrate on telling your story… not worrying about the food truck or the location being too small or an actor being sick. Depending on the size of the project, the producer and their experience will be a god-send to your project, and likely worth the investment right there.
2. Knowing the Ropes: ‘Yes' Is Hard
There are many filmmakers that go guerilla… meaning they go out and get the shots without much planning or getting a “Yes” to permits. This can be dangerous. I was once on a set with a good friend, and he was going guerilla. He just showed up at a mall and wanted to shoot some footage of his actors walking in to the elevator. The 2 guards took one look at us and laughed us all the way to the door. That was a big “No”. Needless to say, that night’s shoot had to be scrapped.
Again, a producer will know everyone that needs to be contacted regarding approval and permits. And this will go a long way in making sure your set is safe and that you can shoot what you want.
3. Be Aware: Keep On Top of All Aspects
When I am shooting a film, I am laser focused on what I need to shoot, the set-ups, the actors, the lights… many things. If you have a producer that you trust, then they can be instrumental in bringing a different perspective to the set. Many times, they can catch a mistake before it happens or as it is happening, so you can make an adjustment. My last film, something like this happened.
My DP (Director of Photography) brought in a new piece of equipment…a Ronin Stablizer, which is a smaller version of a full-size Steadicam Vest and Arm System. What I did not know was that he had little experience with this new device, which can make shots look very high end if used properly. I trusted that he knew his stuff, because it was not able to be hooked up to the monitor.
Well it cost me… big time. I could not use almost 25% of my shots, because there was always a piece of equipment in the shot that nobody caught. If I had a producer there on the set with me, he would have said something. Lesson learnt!
4. Business is Business: Contacts, Contacts, Contacts
This can be crucial sometimes when shooting a film. This business is all about contacts or who you know. Because everyone is always looking for their next job, and so they are willing to help almost anyone at a moment’s notice. So it will really help you if you have someone (Producer) who has been in the business for awhile, because that is their greatest asset. The contacts that they have.
They are always on the phone making calls, either for investors or for people that can help you with your film. This is so important for you to understand. A good producer will pave the way for you to make your video or film in the easiest, and best way you can make it.
5. The Bottom Line: Money is Real
In my experience, I have made only short films. This is because I do not have the cash needed to make even the cheapest feature film. I know people who have made a full feature for under $50,000. But that is a nightmare for everyone involved. You aren’t paying anyone, you barely have money to feed your cast and crew, you are shooting guerilla style for most of the shoot which is stressful to say the least. In my opinion, this is not how I want to make movies.
The process should be fun and exciting and exhilarating. A producer sometimes can bring in investors who want to invest in movies. Again, it goes back to contacts. A good producer will have many people that have extra cash they want to invest. And if the producer is a part of your team from the start, then that improves the odds of you making a wonderful film…and shooting it the way it should be made.
So these are 5 important tips that every video creator should have addressed before making your film. If you take the time to prepare for your shoot correctly, then when you actually get to the set, things will flow much more smoothly than if you were carefree. Because if there is one thing you can always count on, is that there will be “challenges” that arise on the set. Having an experienced producer involved will help you immensely.
But as I said at the beginning, learning how to do it yourself will be rewarding in its own right. Perhaps for your first production, hire the producer and learn by watching what works, and the process, and then in the future if you feel inclined, I suggest learning how to make a video at that point. Above all, enjoy the process, with whichever path you decide on.
Good luck, and if you have any tips, comments or suggestions, leave a comment for me below!
About The Author:
John Montana is an actor living with his wife in L.A. and is learning how to become a video maker. His most recent video, “Hungry” has been accepted into 24 film festivals all over the world. Check out his short films at No Title Production Films.