Producing good video is an exercise in mastering lots of “unknowns.” In my experience, the best way to tame the unknowns is to plan the project. And yes, if your budget is tight, this may be tough, but it’s still do-able. First, a “truth:” if you’re only going to spend $500 on a project that you know should cost $5,000, you should be prepared for an outcome that may disappoint. That said, there are things that can be done to conserve budget while keeping production values strong.
First determine your needs…your real needs! If you only have a thousand bucks to create that “Scorsese-looking” promo, and certainly before someone starts yelling “action,” make time for pre-production planning. Understand the plan, and then stick to it. Nothing will unravel a budget like indecision, which includes making lots of changes after production starts. That doesn’t mean being inflexible, but if the original commitment (and contract) was for a day of on-site production, stretching into another day on location should rightly require additional investment.
In my years in sales, marketing and advertising (before launching my video business) I probably heard the axiom “failure to plan is planning to fail” thousands of times. News flash: it’s still true! So there should be a reasonable amount of pre-production planning to determine equipment requirements, shooting location(s), shot list(s), participants (talent), and any other graphics, images and audio not captured during the shoot. The tighter the budget, the more precise the planning should be. Here’s another “truth:” I suck at storyboarding! My artistic talents are evident when looking through a viewfinder or out over a scene, but freehand art was something my dad passed on to my brother! Nevertheless, I can still map out a scene and stick figures will work! Armed with a map and a shot list, it’s almost—dare I say it—easy to work through the production and keep to the budget. Winging it will kill any project…no pro worth his or her salt would attempt it!
But here’s the good news: With a carefully laid out plan, you will know where there may be opportunities to experiment, flex a bit and have some fun! The finished product will reflect the effort of good planning and you will get the results you wanted for the money you spent.