Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Video Production Company

October 13, 2021

Topic tags

Lisa Marinelli

Creative

Adam Day

Creative


At Wistia, we’re lucky to have our own in-house studio team that sees video projects through from start to finish. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t worked with external video production companies or freelancers in the past to help bring our ideas to life! In fact, there are so many different ways we’ve worked with external folks to create shows like One, Ten, One Hundred, Show Business, Talking Too Loud, and more.

If working with a video production company is on your radar, you’ve come to the right place. We chatted with the Wistia Studios team to get their input on the most important considerations for your business before hiring a production company.

Keep reading to find out the questions you should ask your team internally before hiring a video production company as well as questions you should ask a production company before you decide to work with them. Let’s go!

What is a production company?

Production companies differ from company to company in the scope of work they can help your business accomplish. For example, some production companies can help bring your creative vision to life by shooting and editing videos. Other production companies can help you through the entire creative process, from coming up with an idea, writing and shooting it, to delivering a shiny new video.

Note
The differences between video production companies and video agencies are that video agencies also offer in-house marketing services to help with marketing, delivery, distribution, and other performance-driven strategies.
“They can help you get the best production value in a short period of time, and can be really helpful if you’re not used to producing videos on a consistent basis.”

Many businesses use production companies to create all sorts of videos, from customer testimonials to product videos, video series, and more. At Wistia, we’ve partnered with several companies over the years for projects like these. Production companies are great to partner with if your business doesn’t have an internal production or creative team. They can help you get the best production value in a short period of time and can be really helpful if you’re not used to producing videos on a consistent basis.

Production companies are also helpful if your creative team wants to do a project that’s beyond the scope of what you normally create in-house. For example, if you wanted to create an animated series, you might want to partner with a production company that specializes in animation.

For our docuseries One, Ten, One Hundred, we wanted to work with Sandwich Video because we loved the company’s writing style and approach to product videos. If there’s a production company with a specific style you’re trying to achieve but aren’t practiced at doing it yourself, a production company can help you get where you want to be.

Internal questions to ask yourself and your team

Your business should consider some important things before hiring a production company to work on your project. From your team’s involvement to your budget comfort level, here are some questions you should pose to stakeholders on your team.

1. What’s the purpose of working with an outside production company?

This question might seem obvious, but it’s important to get on the same page as everyone on your team. Consider how involved or not involved your team wants to be in your video creation process.

2. How do we want to balance creative control?

Does your team want to write the script for the video or video series and come up with the creative? Or do you need help with creative ideas and executions? If your answer is the latter, a production company might be the right route to take.

In the end, it’s important to be clear on where you need help and what you hope the production company can help you with. It’s also important to stay flexible because creative collaboration can always bring forward new and better ideas.

3. What’s our budget comfort level?

You should have an understanding of your budget comfort level. Production companies tend to work in specific ballparks, such as pulling off videos with a budget of $10,000 or working with $50,000 on a video campaign. It’s also important to note that some production companies have a production fee, which means they take a percent of the allotted budget.

4. How do you want to allocate your time and resources?

The last things you should consider are your team’s time and resources. More often than not, hiring out can help you save time. For example, we’ve hired agencies for our projects in the past, which allowed our internal team to focus on other things.

5. Would it make more sense to work with a freelance creative?

If you just need to expand one aspect of your creative team but aren’t ready to hire, or if you need help with a very specific task (like audio mixing, scriptwriting, or lighting a slightly bigger production than you’ve been doing on your own) it might be a better fit to work with a freelancer. Freelancers are excellent for working on a one-off basis, and they state their hourly or project rate instead of working with a ballpark budget.

By answering these questions with everyone who’s involved in your video project, you’ll be able to make the best decision about whether or not hiring out is the right move for your business.

External questions for a video production company

If you’re certain that you want help in getting your video project across the finish line, here are some questions to ask a production company before committing to working together.

1. What kinds of videos do you specialize in?

Every production company has its strengths, whether it’s telling brand stories or coming up with compelling ad campaigns. Ask the company what its specialties are and see if it aligns with your video goals.

2. How big is your company and who is working on our project?

Asking this question will help you know who you might collaborate with on your project. For example, some production companies are fully staffed. But, some companies might also hire additional crew members to get the job done depending on your budget and the production requirements.

3. What other companies have you worked with like ours?

Inquiring about a production company’s work with other businesses in your industry or similar to yours is a great way to compare apples to apples. Get a better understanding of the production company’s quality of work by researching its work with other companies like yours.

4. Can you share your reel or some of your recent work with us?

It’s standard for production companies to share a reel of their work with you, but don’t be afraid to ask to see more examples!

5. What is your general workflow and process like?

It’s also helpful to know the production company’s general workflow and what conditions the company works best under.

“You’ll want to agree to the company’s ground rules and establish who’s responsible for what when it comes to working with a production company.”

You’ll want to agree to the company’s ground rules and establish who’s responsible for what when it comes to working with a production company. This means getting on the same page about creative control: Who’s writing? Who owns the creative? How much input can you or do you need to have in the process? A very experienced production company will be pretty good (and firm) about this — it’ll want to agree to the working relationship from the get go.

Depending on what you’re engaging the production company for, asking “How does the feedback process work?” will give you an idea of how many stages of feedback there are. Often, you’re given a specific amount of feedback rounds because the production company can’t allow clients to keep iterating on projects until the end of time. This goes for the writing and pre-production process as well as the post-production process. For example, there might be three passes on the script or three passes on the final edit.

You should also ask, “How much time do we get between rounds?” which will help you be resourceful and keep yourself on schedule. If you ask for more rounds of feedback, there are typically additional charges around that.

6. What kind of gear are you using?

Asking about the production company’s gear will indicate whether or not a portion of your budget might be used to rent gear. This isn’t always a bad thing — in part, you’re hiring a team that knows the precise gear to rent to make your project sing. If the production company owns the gear needed to produce your video, then you know your budget will be allocated to other things.

7. How does payment work?

When you’re ready to talk about budget, you should feel free to ask how payment works and if the company has a production fee. If you know your ideal budget, you can even ask the production company to share an example it has of working with a specific budget. For example, “Can you share with us an example of a $10,000 video?”

However, this can be a difficult question to answer. Many production companies may come back with an “it depends” or “that’s not easy to do” type of answer, but it can help get a conversation started.

When you’re trying to figure out if a production company is the right fit for your business, the goal is to be clear and have a good understanding of expectations and workflow before you agree to start a project — it will make it more fun and lead to better outcomes.

Set things up for success!

Before jumping into working with a production company, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your team about your video needs. If a production company feels like the right fit to get the job done, remember you’re starting a new relationship — so get the relationship set up for success! If your company has worked with a production company in the past, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

October 13, 2021

Topic tags

Lisa Marinelli

Creative

Adam Day

Creative

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