Video Production Business Tips – Systematizing the Creative Process

I spent the better part of my weekend reading a book about starting your own business. Reading such books will help you see the light as it relates to building a more successful video production business. It certainly helped me better understand a lot of the emotions I cycle through on a regular basis due to the stress involved with running a company, managing production and actually being the one to shoot and edit a good percentage of the work that comes into my studio.

I’ve found that the largest time suck and profit leak in a video business is the creative process. We often spend way too much time trying, tweaking and hating our work (repeat) until the deadline arrives and we are forced to hurry up and make it suitable for delivery to our client. In our studio, this is often referred to as “polishing a turd!”

When this happens, we aren’t fulfilled as artists and our bank account isn’t filled up with the cash needed to support our families and to reinvest in our businesses.

In order to be both fulfilled and financially successful, we have to find ways to systematize our creative process so we can deliver quality products, faster and with higher profit margins.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. However, in any creative environment, I think we’d agree that another possible definition might be doing something different every time but expecting the same result.

In other words, we want the freedom to be as creative as possible in each project we work on and we also want to be paid for all the time spent making the client’s masterpiece. It simply doesn’t happen this way.

We don’t have the luxury of an open-ended meter where we can just work on a project as long as we want with the guarantee of getting paid for every single hour it takes to complete it to our satisfaction.

Instead, we either work too many hours that we don’t get paid for or we intentionally work fewer hours because we want to make sure we get paid for all our efforts.

Both options are bad for us, the video business owner. If we work too many hours that aren’t compensated, we can’t survive and thrive financially and if we work fewer hours than it takes to deliver an exceptional product for the client, we risk not getting hired again which also impacts our financial well-being.

It’s a lose/lose scenario.

In order to be successful in our industry, we MUST systematize as much of the creative process as possible. Here are some areas to consider.

1. Scriptwriting

How do you go about writing a script? Create a process for doing the research, developing the outline, submitting for client review/approval, etc. Another thing you can consider doing is to encourage the client to handle more of the scriptwriting responsibilities so you don’t get bogged down with that part of the process. This is what I try to do in most projects and it’s been much more profitable (and pleasurable) for me overall.

2. Lighting Interviews, B-ROLL, etc.

I know DPs who like to take a different approach to lighting on every single shoot. I’ve actually heard them say that they don’t want any two shoots to look the same as far as lighting is concerned. I think this is insane! In my opinion, you don’t want to change your style with every shoot. Instead, pick a style, master it and use it for a long time on many shoots until you feel like you need to upgrade it with either different equipment or more advanced techniques.

It used to take me an hour to properly light an interview. Now I can do it in 15 minutes or less because I do it the same time, every time.

3. Editing & Motion Graphics

This is the part of our creative process that really kills us. The artist in us wants to try something new but the business manager just wants to hurry up and finish it. Believe it or not, there are patterns that you develop over time in the editing and design process that you can replicate with minor tweaks. Doing it this way takes much less time to create but looks completely different in the eyes of your clients.

The same logo animation with different color schemes, shadows, fonts, etc. can be used in dozens of videos without anyone ever knowing. The same color correction style or vignette treatment can also be recycled in each project without any issues. There are tons of things you can do to keep your work fresh for each client but to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

I know I didn’t go into a ton of detail in this post on how to systematize every aspect of the creative process but I hope you are already getting ideas on how you can find ways to produce outstanding work in less time… resulting in higher profits for your video production business!