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The Art of Hiring Master Craftsmen

The Art of Hiring Master Craftsmen

Time was that a man who worked diligently to master his skills in a chosen craft applied to be accepted into a guild as an approved workman skilled in his field. Those examining him were fellow craftsman. The applicant would be time-served, both as an apprentice and a journeyman before he could be elected to become a master craftsman. He would then have to produce a masterpiece before he could actually become a master craftsman. If the masterpiece was not accepted by his fellow craftsmen, he was not allowed to join the guild, possibly remaining a journeyman for the rest of his life. At Illumina Filmworks, we consider ourselves master craftsmen of our trade and we do not take that lightly. Together myself and Rustin Hamilton have over 60 years’ experience working in video production. Rustin is a master of the written word and is our “big picture guy”. Whether directing a large scale film crew or producing a TV commercial, Rustin brings all the elements together to find harmony and success. I personally have an obsession for filmmaking. I love incorporating the best of emerging technologies while holding true to the fundamentals of film production. I obsess over cameras, lens and anything remotely related to capturing the visual world around us. Rustin and I pride ourselves on our strong collaborative skills and deep professionalism wrapped in a tireless work ethic. Why is this important? Say you are a Business Owner, VP of Marketing or just the person who drew the short straw and now it’s your job to hire a video production company for an upcoming project. Where do you begin? Even as a seasoned Director of Photography myself I can’t deny that one of the most difficult things a business owner will have to do is hire a good video production company that “gets” what they are trying to do. Learning how to find the right video production company is more of an art than a science. When you tack on the added specialty of needing an experienced video production company that can also handle scriptwriting, permitting, drone work, and postproduction, it may feel as if you are looking for a hippogriff or a house-elf (yes I had to make a Harry Potter reference since it is the 20th anniversary since the first publication came out). It’s the video production company you pick that makes — or breaks — your project.   The first question you need to ask yourself is what type of project needs to be done. Do you need help with scriptwriting? Does your video project include 2D or 3D animation? Will you need voice over talent? How about green screen? Do you even know if you need voice over? Are there multiple locations and setups? Do you need help determining any or all of the above? Do you see where I am coming from? It can be kinda overwhelming, but that is why I am writing this blog post. Trust me, whether you hire Illumina or another company I want to make sure you as much information and knowledge as possible to make an informative decision. When you’ve determined the type of production you need, it’s time to sit down and do some research. It’s common knowledge that you want to get at least three bids on your project. The question is, whom do you ask to bid on the job? Ask friends and colleagues to see if anyone you know and trust has any recommendations for video production companies that they’ve used. Searching for local video production companies on the old interweb is an easy way to start if you cannot get any personal recommendations. Be sure to check if the video production companies you are interested in have professional, up-to-date websites and if they have any ratings or reviews. A good video production company will have an up to date show reel and examples of their work online. Whether you get referrals from people you trust or end up searching the web, it’s important to trust your instincts. Did the video production contact return your call promptly and show up on time if you decided to make a discovery appointment? During the meeting, did the video production team answer questions to your satisfaction? Willingly provide references? Are they insured? Did they lay out their expectations for the project? Did you feel like you had good rapport with them? This is important; communication is the most important aspect of the client relationship and you have to feel that you can speak directly and honestly with your video professionals. After you’ve decided on a bid a and a video production company, consider requesting a written contract. Generally speaking, you never want to get any work started or agree to anything that isn’t formalized in a contract, even if you trust the production team. Don’t run the risk of being taken advantage of. Spell out timetables, required work, deliverables…everything, in a contract.