The vast majority of video producers want to produce one thing in the first place: beautiful videos for their customers. This intention honours, but is wrong! Because contract productions have a completely different task: they have to solve problems. Period. Finished. Amen.
Why does your client pay you money to produce a video? Not because you are particularly good as a director, cameraman or producer. It’s also not because your video inspires with unique footage. It’s simply because your client believes in solving a problem with your support and the video you produce. Your duties are derived from this. Only from this.
- In the field of contract production, videos are always an instrument for solving a customer problem.
- From this and only from this may be derived the definition of what a “good” video is.
- Banal, but nevertheless indispensable and a factor that is surprisingly often neglected: You can only solve problems that you know and understand. If you are not granted this right or you do not have this competence, you must not accept the assignment.
Videos as a communication instrument
There are different motivations to shoot a video. And that’s absolutely fine. If you make a short film, you can realize yourself with it and – in the best case – give your career a boost. But as soon as you move into the field of commissioned production, the rules of the game change. Firstly, because the contract also gives you a production budget. Secondly, and related to this, because your valued client only does this because he wants something from you.
And what does your client want?
Quite simply: the solution to a problem that your client thinks he can only solve with moving images. This initial situation puts you in two situations:
Either your client has understood the power of video. He knows what video can and cannot do. Or he misunderstands moving images as an all-purpose weapon that is supposed to work wonders. In the latter case, it is your sacred task as a video producer to explain to your esteemed client that he is using video for the wrong instrument in this particular case! If you do not do this, you fail, as does your client. Your reputation will go down the drain. Videos are a communication instrument. Nothing more. Nothing less.
What problems do videos solve?
A video alone is everything and nothing. Possibly even simultaneously. What am I trying to say? It is not the choice of the format video alone that is decisive. Even if it is the right decision. It is always and primarily about the content that the video transports.
This content, that is an audiovisually convincing answer to a challenge your client has to overcome. The problem can be: My clients don’t know my product well enough. Or: My company is associated with the wrong values in the market. Or: Our CEO should become more visible and tangible, which is why we are thinking of a leadership video. The possibilities are as diverse as the challenges and problems that every company faces.
An assignment video can therefore only work if its content
- is oriented to the problem (the task), and
- also solves the problem.
There can’t be any coincidence. Crucial in this process are clear analyses of the challenge shared by customers and their translation into a convincing video concept.
The analysis can either be carried out by the video production company itself, which is also able to perform an agency function, or by a specialised agency.
You realize: Before you can even think for a single second about the visual realization, storytelling and dramaturgy, budget, actors and shooting schedules, there is a huge amount of mental work to do. Whether you do it or someone else does it, it has to be done!
The beauty of grey tones
If we distinguish what a video can do and where it is better not to use moving images, a third category also belongs in the considerations. Because like everywhere else in life there is more than just yes or no.
What do I mean by this third category? I am referring to all those cases in which the correct assessment is: “This can work if additionally …” That’s the famous “Yes, but…” This includes all those cases where the use of video can only solve part of the problem because certain subtasks of the problem solution need to be solved only with the help of other communication tools.
In these cases, the video tool must therefore play in concert with other instruments to solve a problem. No clever producer would close this possibility, because it also offers a great opportunity that benefits video and customer success: by integrating video into a communication mix and thanks to the relief provided by other tools, video can concentrate on its true strengths and thus let its muscles play.
Videos must solve problems: Conclusion
The video industry in the contract production segment will only get better when it understands and accepts that a video is much more than just moving pictures. Namely an instrument that the customer pays for because it solves a problem.
This also explains why, from the filmmaker‘s point of view, certain customers can be extremely happy with a video that will never, ever win a prize. Be it because the camera work is not on Hollywood level, the soundtrack consists only of archive music or the graphics are more connected to information than to art. Nevertheless, even such videos have a right to exist. Provided they fulfil their purpose: they are a problem solver.