11, Nov 2019
Seattle Videographer Blog
to find the best videographer for your project
Often times when hiring a videographer there is a serious time crunch and with it, a sense of urgency that can make finding the right videographer quite challenging. I’m writing this from a filmmaker's perspective to give you the proper framework and strategies to use when looking for the ideal videographer for your job. If you are going for budget, the first production group you find on Google is going to be a mistake. The easier a production company is to find, the quicker they will burn through your budget. If a production company has money for marketing you are going to be paying a premium on your content. If you are trying to keep things lean I would recommend doing some digging, and here’s where to start.
For smaller projects put an ad on Craigslist and Upworks. With the right strategy, these two platforms can be gold mines.
When posting an ad in either of these platforms (especially Craigslist) you are going to be casting a very wide net. In most metro cities there are quite a few freelance videographers to choose from, and with the limited number of portals to reach out to clients such as yourself, there will be quite a few responses. This can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. The important factors to keep in mind are:
Acing the Ad
When constructing your ad you want to keep your project specifications very precises. The factors to mention are: when, number of hours, location, basic company info (not necessarily company name), the caliber of gear required, and the budget. When, where, and how long should be a no brainer. The mention of budget while some try to stray off it is actually important, you don’t want to sift through 80 filmmakers only to find that 2 of them can work with your budget and neither have any experience with your video. This transparency will save you time. The type of gear will also help you narrow down the perfect videographers for the job. Make sure the budget matches the gear which I will go into greater detail later. It’s helpful to mention some details about the company because some videographers work better with larger or smaller companies and some will be better suited based on industry as well.
Be particularly aware of their promptness to responding to the ad, their responsiveness after initial contact, their professionalism in handling the project and managing expectations. Be careful of those who cut and paste responses on emails or give very broad responses. You want someone who personalizes their response and shows serious intent to do a great job for you. Misspellings and grammar can be a red flag if it’s really consistent. However if it’s a single spelling error or something minor I would still give them a chance if they do well in the other categories. It is preferable to work with someone who can keep things brief; the more fluff in the message, the more they are likely compensating for lack of experience. Why is this important, you ask? A video is a form of communication that you are using to share your message with ____ . A great communicator will likely do an excellent job at accomplishing your video goals. An effective communicator in this industry can get what she needs from you, and be able to relay important info throughout the video-making process. Being able to engage effectively creates transparency and efficiency, and this is a vital and often overlooked criteria in choosing a videographer.
Obviously you should check their Vimeo, Youtube, Website if they have one. Check out their Sizzle Reel and more importantly check out their past work. You want someone who has done numerous similar project or mentions some specialization in your type of video. WHen I say type of video it may not be so much the content as much as the genera of video. If your video is a lot of talking head a documentary type filmmaker may be a great option. Take notice of the audio as well as video quality. Ideally you want someone well rounded. Also keep in mind that the location you choose also plays a big role in the quality of your video (For more advice on choosing a location check out How Not To Choose A Location"). If no one seems to have any similar work choose someone that films in a style that you like. A videographer that has few or not noticeable issues is going to do a much better job than someone who boasts expensive gear.
The equipment a videographer uses can be indicative of several variables, including their specialty (the types of projects they usually produce). For smaller projects, like any “talking head”, a DSLR like a Canon 5D, Sony A7S, Panasonic GH4, and the Blackmagic PCC4K (all in the same tear) will do a superb job. If it’s a mirrorless camera, even better. If they are using a C300 or any cinema camera, you can expect a significantly higher rate. However, if you are making something bigger budget it’s almost essential to hire a professional who has one of these beasts, like a DP (Director of Photography, aka, camera op on smaller projects). For audio, it's always good to work with someone who has a wireless lav mic unless they have a very good shotgun mic. For lighting, if necessary, someone who has bi-colored LED light panels are going to be a great choice for their portability and quality.
While we’re all trying to save on our budget, it’s important not to dip too low. You want to go for the cheapest videographer that has a great track record and is an effective communicator. This is where the value lies. Freelance videographers will usually charge one of three ways depending on the project: flat rate, hourly or day/half-day rates. Ideally, you want to lock in a flat rate if you are working with someone new so you have a predictable cost, which will minimize the risk of unforeseen expenses or tasks. This is a good rule-of-thumb, however, on some occasions this might not be the best choice. For more on rates, and what common project costs are, visit my article, “What’s under the hood: an inside look at video costs and how to save in the process”.