Typical turnaround time for most corporate video work is between 6 and 8 weeks, but you don’t have nearly as much time. You need a product launch video or a special company video to play at your conference in just a few weeks. Can you make a video production happen from start to finish in just a few weeks or are you out of luck? Luckily, if time is a concern, you can drastically shorten the process but only through careful focus, hard work, and the right production company. To put your video on the fast track, you need to shorten the pre-production process substantially and you need to have a rush edit of the footage or you won’t meet your deadlines. The actual production is the easy part, but the planning is where you need to save the most time.
In Hollywood, as well as probably the greater business world, filmmakers have a saying that you get to choose between two of these three options: fast, good, and cheap. You can have a high quality, cheap video, but it won’t be fast. You will be put last on the list of priorities and be at the mercy of someone else’s schedule because you’re not a well paying client. You can have fast and cheap, but the quality will suffer because you’ll probably be hiring a film student or amateur. What you’re looking to achieve is fast and good, but it won’t be cheap. You have to pay a premium to a production company to come in at the back of the line and push your way to the front, which requires paying more than their other clients. You have to obtain a rush edit of the video, which not only means overnighting the footage from wherever it was shot to the editor, but also paying enough so the editor can work overtime to complete a first edit. Whenever you tell a production company you need a video way faster than their typical time table, you’re asking them to undergo additional stress and risk that they won’t be inclined to do without financial incentive.
Once you understand that a rush video project will incur additional costs, you need to prepare yourself for the race to the finish line. You are in a hurry, so e-mail communication is out. Use the phone, speak to whoever is in charge of giving quotes for the company, and tell them your timetable. For us, we can have a quote to a customer by the end of the business day if they call us in the morning and express a need for speed. Be ready to sign a contract immediately; we use DocuSign to expedite the process. Production companies will require some form of down payment or partial payment on the shoot to start the process, so if you can wire money to the company’s bank account you’ll eliminate the wait time. You may have to agree to PayPal the deposit plus cover the PayPal fee, but you can always send a check for the final part of payment. If you want to send a check, you are probably fine doing so, but send it next day air. The last thing you want to happen is the production company not taking your job seriously because they haven’t received any payment.
If you’re clueless about what you want from the video, you’re in trouble. Rush jobs require some understanding of what you want so that you can quickly bring everyone aboard and up to speed. If you need a product launch video, figure out whether you’re using a spokesperson or voiceover, whether you need to hire actors to interact with the product, and whether you want a scripted concept or a straight-forward pitch. If you need a complete concept, you’re going to need a director, which is already expensive but especially on a limited time frame. The simpler the video, the easier it will be to rush order. If you have date flexibility on the shoot day, you will make the production company’s job easier.
Although it may sound great that you know you want to film in exactly one week, you may miss out on the company’s best videographer in the area who is booked for that day. Let the production company count backwards, if it’s not an event video, and figure out when they can shoot and still have the editing time needed to meet your deadline. The key to saving time is quick approvals on your end. If you need a concept, tell the production company to come up with a few basic ideas, send them over, and then be ready to pick one of them immediately for further development. Don’t request storyboards because they’ll take an extra few days to complete, which is time you don’t really have to spend. Be clear about what you want and provide a lot of documentation. The more the production company understands your video needs, the easier they will be able to tackle the task of turning around a quick, high quality video. When the production company sends you the first edit, the schedule will be tight and you will be near your deadline. You’ll need to make appropriate change orders and recommendations within 24 hours to give the production company time to integrate your notes and send you another review draft. In general, with quick video orders, you’re only going to get one or at most two rounds of revisions. Make them count.
The most critical advice for hiring a production company to complete a time-sensitive video production is to make sure you choose the right company. Finding a one-man-band type of videographer / businessman / editor is not the right solution for most video projects that need to be completed quickly, unless the person has nothing booked for weeks. You need a company that has the manpower and resources to make your video happen quickly. For us, when we receive video requests for quick turnarounds, our VP of Business Development handles quotes and budgeting as her primary job. We have a dedicated project coordinator who can start reaching out to the appropriate crew members immediately and preparing contract documents. Meanwhile, I handle additional producing responsibilities and our editing staff can answer post-production questions we may have in the planning stages to understand how much time we need on the tail end. Find the right company with the right infrastructure to handle your request and you’ll be in good hands.