The first question when it comes to using a freelance crew for your corporate film is when to bring them onto the project. You know your company better than anyone so you can trust your copywriting studs to come up with a great script. Unless you have someone on your team who has experience in the film world, bringing on the director, producer, and even the cinematographer in the script-writing phase will give you a second set of eyes. Your writers know how to script compelling copy, but involving the major creative film forces (hereinafter referred to as the crew) early will benefit the final product.
The crew can spot any major concerns early and suggest solutions before too much energy or capital can be invested—such as suggesting alternatives to car chases, explosions and helicopter shots. In addition, involving the crew early ensures that everyone is working towards the same product. While this sounds like a given, the more exposure your crew has to the material, the more familiar they will become with your company, its message, and its culture which ultimately results in a solid piece.
In order to create this unity of vision, communication is key. The following items that should definitely be exchanged during the course of communication about a project aren’t revolutionary by any means, but sometimes it’s good to revisit the basics.
The more the crew understands about the intent of the project, the better they will be able to deliver on the day. Creating a team atmosphere will ultimately result in a solid group effort. Some key points to make sure your freelancer understands:
(a) who is the intended audience? In all likelihood, you’ve determined the personas for whom you’re producing this project. Letting your crew know the intended audience gives them the opportunity to do their own research and understand the habits of that audience which in turn results in a more effective film.
(b) what is the tone of the piece? Your crew will approach a light, witty project in a far different way than a more meditative, thought-provoking piece. Feel free to use a bevy of adjectives to describe the feel as the more precise and thorough the description, the more vivid a picture your crew will be able to produce.
(c) where is the piece going to be displayed? A project that goes out in an e-mail blast will have a different feel than an explainer video on the front page of your website.
(d) where is piece going to be filmed? For a high-budget project, pre-production will encompass multiple days of preparation, scouting, and planning. If you’re working on something smaller, perhaps filming in your own office, it is still in your interests to have a day where the crew can see the physical space. They will look for where they can draw electrical power, where the sun will travel throughout the day, which areas offer the best visual potential, and other factors that are best determined at the physical location.
While it is important that the crew know what you’re thinking, it is just as important that you know what your crew is thinking. Some things to get from your crew are:
(a) some visual samples that represent something close to their vision. Not to be confused with a freelancer’s reel or portfolio, the samples should consist of some images that approximate the look and feel of your project. Some elements that you can begin to discuss before the day of filming include the lighting, the general composition of shots, and the overall pace.
(b) the schedule for the shoot. The amount of time necessary to film a project depends upon a number of different factors. The more crew members, the faster they will be able to set up. Scheduling the day with ample time to set up allows for the crew to work in an efficient and safe manner. Allotting enough time for lunch is also a key consideration when scheduling the shoot.
In the end, it all comes down to the flow of information. The more the freelancer is involved with and understands your creative team, the better your project will become.