VIDEO PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT SURVIVAL GUIDE

PREPRODUCTION

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Like many plans, video production begins with a meeting.  Managers should gather the team and stakeholders together once a year for a strategy retreat. Too often, attending a strategy session calls to mind the minutes in your life you will never get back. But with some thought you can ensure your annual production plan will be executed with tangible measurements of success.

Meeting six-to-eight weeks before the start of the fiscal year is usually best. This meeting is most effective when it is an all-day retreat or locked-in-the-conference room meeting. No cellphones, no distractions, with attendees prepped on the agenda. Everyone needs to know the goal is to create and agree on an annual production calendar.

 

Starting the meeting with a review of the past year’s videos can be a celebration of great work and a review of campaigns. This is a video production meeting so reviewing

1)    Research & Preproduction

2)   Shoot

3)   Writing

4)   Editing

5)   Due date.

your best efforts is an opportunity for everyone to step back and take a 40,000 foot view of what has worked, where the pain-points are for production, and to begin to form strategies for the upcoming year. Take stock, celebrate, and create action items.

 

By leveraging the past years’ experience you can identify what types of content were effective, what content is required and set goals for content types and quality going forward. This is a very important pivot point, because this is where you reach team consensus on how you will be allocating resources over the next calendar year. Everyone wants to do the "fun" story and no one wants to spend the afternoon shooting a vanity piece with and overinflated executive. But if everyone understands the entire fabric of content types and how they woven into the marketing plan there is less push-back  when assigned a lame story.

 

Even if you are on your own, when you are only managing yourself, it is critical these first two steps are executed thoughtfully. That's because they provide the information you need to create your production calendar.

 

Once you have taken inventory of the past and set priorities for the present you have the information you need to accurately plan the future. I recommend coming to the meeting with information from marketing, community outreach, HR and any other potential stake-holder you may need to support with video. Potential projects could be planned product launches, community campaigns, seasonal content and annual events.

 

 I also use this time as an opportunity to blue-sky any content types I would like to add to my production mix. What are the opportunities or market trends I feel we should be leveraging to meet our goals.

 

When I create my production calendar I use a simple format. I lay out all 52 weeks and split each week into 5 rows.

 

Those rows are:

Starting with the projects I am aware of I start populating my calendar with due dates. I then work backwards, allocating time for the other four sections based on production requirements.

Next I look for reoccurring content. This might include executive briefings, town hall meetings, Subject Matter Experts (SME videos), quarterly reports, product launches and consumer tips. This is the stuff that keeps us busy and has a nice predictability to it. Even if an executive or team has not formally requested support for a quarterly video I can use past history to include it in my calendar and perhaps drive when it will be produced. I can schedule these videos when I am more likely to have the bandwidth to do great work, not run around on a fire drill that satisfies no one.

 

Finally I begin allocating time for regular content. If my goal is to publish a video a week I will back-fill the empty weeks with the content we identified earlier in the meeting. This is where we identify opportunities for the "blue-sky" videos, the development of new Subject Matter Experts, or flesh out any video series we have identified.

DIGITAL or ANALOG CALENDAR?

For a production calendar to work everyone must have access to it and actually use it. There are plenty of project management and calendar software options on the market. From free to insanely expensive. Some are built specifically for video production, like Farmer's Wife.

 

While I track hours and resources via my computer, my favorite resource is a large production calendar with the entire year displayed. I have seen them in all shapes and sizes, but my favorite is one I saw in North Carolina that occupied one wall of the marketing team’s conference room. They leveraged color-coded recipe cards so anyone could rapidly understand how the resources were being used. Changing a shoot, edit or delivery date was as easy as moving a card. But to do so you needed to find a place where the resource was available.

Sure the recipe card solution is really Old School. But it works. This type of production calendar can be very helpful when a manager or executive shows up in your office wanting video support (You know the visit... "Joe is retiring after 25 years and I heard you make video. Could you whip something out for us? The party is in two days." ) The team in North Carolina used the calendar as a way to help executives and stakeholders understand that the available resources for video production is finite. If an executive wanted a video then everyone could easily participate in the process of determining what other commitment would have to go away or be moved. It helped everyone understand the consequences of each request. This visual and accessible approach to managing a production calendar creates both respect for the work of the team and drives transparent conversations about priorities.

© StoryGuide 2016