TEN TIPS ON HIRING THE RIGHT PRODUCTION TEAM (Published in RESPONSE and MarcommWise Knowledge Bank)
By Jeffery Goddard, President, TVA Media Group
Jeffery Goddard is CEO and Executive Producer at TVA Media Group, a full-service media production and placement company which creates, executes and manages MediaBlitz!® and infomercial campaigns.Clients include Universal Studios, Sony, Warner Bros., Disney, CityWalk, Lexus, Princess Cruises, Canon, Daewoo, Sega, and Epson.
Here are Ten things I would look for in evaluating different production companies:
Ask the production company to show you specific examples of productions they’ve done within the quoted budget. Have them guarantee in writing that you will get at least the production values shown in the productions you liked best.
Determine if the company understands your industry sufficiently to communicate your message to your target audience. Will you have to spoon-feed an inexperienced team on just the mere basics of your industry? Keep in mind the wise adage “if you think we’re expensive… wait ’till you hire an amateur to do it!”
If you like a particular show, make sure they can provide the same creative team, i.e. director, writer, cameraman, editor, etc. Ensure you’ll get the team that had the greatest impact on the creativity and production values. Careful, many production houses will show you great stuff… but then “bait and switch” you with some minor freelance crew having few credentials.
Make sure no cameras start to roll until you’re perfectly happy with the final shooting script, casting of on-camera talent, sets, locations, etc. And don’t commit to a shoot date until the script is approved. (You have enough stress in your life!).
Make sure the scripts and storyboards give you a clear and detailed sense of how the production will be shot and edited (to avoid any unpleasant surprises at the end.) Insist on seeing and approving an off-line edit (rough cut) prior to the final on-line editing of the program.
Make sure they agree to produce the program on a “FLAT FEE” basis and that the contract has a “NOT TO EXCEED” clause, guaranteeing there will be no hidden costs.
Speak to their clients. Ask them:
How would you rate them compared to other companies you’ve used in the past?
Overall, how would you rate their overall performance? Scale 1-10 (10 being the best)
Overall, how would you rate the performance of their creative team? Scale 1-10 (10 being the best)
Overall, how would you rate the performance of their production team? Scale 1-10 (10 being the best)
Overall, how would you rate their facilities and equipment used? Scale 1-10 (10 being the best)
Overall, how would you rate the performance of their media buyers? Scale 1-10 (10 being the best)
How well were the objectives of the project met?
Rate the audience response to the productions:
What did you like most about working with them?
What did you like least about working with them?
Would you consider hiring them again?
How well do they understand the latest, most sophisticated production techniques? Do they eat, breathe and sleep the big picture (script to screen…dubs to distribution)… or are they strictly a production house who will leave you on your own to handle trafficking, dubs, digital formats, distribution, media buying, fulfillment, blended media strategies, new media (OTT, Linear Addressable, Programmatic, VOD…), Syndication, PI, digital video distribution platforms, etc. Don’t be left holding the bag (show) when it comes to ensuring a good ROI through well-designed media plans and postlog analysis.
Do they know the most recent legislation (such as FCC, FTC, FDA and copyright laws; royalties, etc.) or will their production make you vulnerable to potential lawsuits or governmental fines?
Have them guarantee in writing a completion date with penalties for unreasonable delays that you didn’t cause. Many production companies are often poor at scheduling and multi-project management. Make sure the contract guarantees your project won’t get bumped to the back burner because of a larger project.
BONUS TIP: Ask them:
Can you deliver script to screen productions IN HOUSE, all elements of Program TV media planning (Long Form and Short) including scheduling, negotiation, buying and post-airing reporting and DETAILED results analysis with clear Next Step Recommendations…coordinating data transmission logistics with telemarketer and e-commerce provider, instructing dubbing vendor to create and forward tapes to stations in accordance with station scheduling requirements, and incorporating sales/response results into a media reporting and management system?
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