couple weeks ago, a photographer asked me on Facebook if I had advice for business owners making a promo video/showreel to promote their services. She wanted one made, but she didn't know, exactly, how to get started. In light of this, today's post will focus on how to begin and things to consider when making a promotional video.
Let's start with a chronological order of what I think works best...
1. Find Inspiration It's easy to look to peers in an industry and replicate what they're doing. For instance, I see lots of photographers looking to other photographers for inspiration and while that's fine, it's not new or interesting. I love to find things outside my niche and see how I can work them into what I want to do with my promotional video For instance, this Anthony Hopkins video radically changed my perspective on how I wanted to be interviewed for a video I had produced a couple years ago. I sent this to my cinematographer as a piece of a descriptive puzzle I was putting together in my head.
2. Connect the Dots I've heard of business owners complaining that their videographer missed the mark or produced a lackluster promo. I'm not doubting the veracity of their point, but I also ask myself if they'd done enough on the back-end to provide a detailed vision of what was in store. How much work a person does in advance of a project really improves the chances of what you want it to become. I usually pull 5-7 videos to provide as inspiration for my cinematographer. I use one to demonstrate the vibe, one to demonstrate the cinematic quality, one to demonstrate the color profile/treatment, one to demonstrate the narrative...and so on. While I give total creative freedom to my cinematographer, I also provide a framework to ensure we're on the same page. Here's a recent video I fell in love with and while the story doesn't necessarily work for what I do, I loved the concept of a deep story line and movie quality, so I archived it for a future project (more on that coming soon...).
3. Set a Budget I hate budgets more than I hate root canals, but if you're making a business investment, you need to count each cost and stick within your parameters. Once you know your budget, start an active search for creatives within that space...the more searching you do, the higher chances of finding someone who can work with you.
4. Know What You're Trying to Convey A promo video should do two main things: 1. promote your business; and 2. make the viewer feel something about you. Now you have to decide what this is. Are you promoting you as the service provider...or your services? This changes the scope of how the promo will be shot. Secondly, you need to ask yourself what you want a person to feel once your promo ends. Creating a promo around an emotional correlation can be powerful, so if you're intentional from the beginning, it'll definitely be evident. For example, the first video promo I made, I wanted prospective clients to feel connected to the idea of having fun, feeling loved, and seeing who I was as a new photographer. The second promo video I had made showcased who I was as a person, the creative behind the lens.
On the other hand, when I was promoting the debut of EXPOSED Magazine, I needed a promo video to showcase what it was and how it came to life. These are subtle differences, but the approach to making them was radically different.
Both of these videos were executed by the ever amazing Anton Lorimer, who is an undeniable force to be reckoned with behind his camera. He's wildly talented.
5. Cheap versus Inexpensive I usually caution business owners from investing in a promo video if they aren't sold completely on the videographer. Sometimes the budget dictates the quality of work, but that doesn't mean it has to look cheap. If your promo looks cheap, then chances are viewers will think of your business as cheap. And that's the last thing you want! If you have a small budget, do lots of legwork to find an up-and-coming filmmaker/videographer/cinematographer. Check out local video students at an art school, reach out to friends whose promo videos you like, be willing to trade services. Do whatever you need to do to find someone who will execute your vision, but--please--don't post a promo video with poor audio or lots of camera shake. It's almost as bad as watching your friends' recent vacation videos...but worse.
And because this post was MUCH longer than I expected (sorry...I can be a chatterbox!), I'll end with this video. I adore the story line, the typography, and the quirkiness of it all...