DISCLAIMER: In no way, shape or form is this supposed to be a hit piece on freelance videographers. In fact, outside of our full time staff, we use many highly skilled and super professional freelancers for most of our mid to high-budget projects. It’s just the nature of the business when working at a high level in the current business climate. This article came about more from the numerous conversations we’ve had with previous clients over the years and the war wounds they’ve encountered as they got started using video production for their companies. We decided it might be a good idea to save some future headache and explain why many of these clients decided to use a video production company instead of a single person freelance videographer. Hopefully you find it to be a good resource. Please share your own experience in the comment section below. Thanks and enjoy!
Though the idea of hiring an affordable freelancer can be alluring, video production is one area in which a qualified company is almost always preferable. Video production requires professional equipment, extensive experience, and quality resources to provide a polished end result. Freelancers are often unable to provide the rigorous requirements and standards that a solid video production needs.
1. Knowing What You’re Getting
There are some fantastic freelancers within the video industry. But without a lot of time and research, you’ll never be able to tell who they are. The vast majority of freelancers operate from day to day and project to project. They will often over-promise and under-deliver because they are sending out quotes without a thorough understanding of the project that needs to be completed. Some of them are even outsourcing to cheaper freelancers, so you won’t know the quality of work before you receive it. There is no way to perform consistent quality control with a video freelancer. Many of them have only been in the industry for a year or two.
Even viewing their portfolio won’t necessarily help, because you won’t know the conditions under which the portfolio items were developed. You won’t know whether the freelancer scripted it or whether the client did, or whether the freelancer still has the equipment that they used available to them. The footage might be from a project that a video production company produced that the freelancer was one of a team of many people. A freelancer is, essentially, an unknown quantity. A detailed proposal would give you the information that you need, however, most freelancers don’t provide detailed proposals because they don’t have the time to do so. Instead they focus on putting out as many quotes as they possibly can, usually off the cuff.
2. Procuring a Range of Talent and Experience
A freelancer is just a single individual who is extremely talented in one specialization. They may work in camera operation, gaffing, or as an audio technician. They may also have a range of specialties such as PREDITOR (producer, director and editor). But in this situation, the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” can certainly apply. Just because an individual is skilled in one area doesn’t mean they are skilled in others — and creating a successful video requires a range of talent and experience.
A video production company hires an array of experienced, professional, and skilled staff members, who have a wide range of specialties designed to make your video production as successful as possible. There is a reason why Hollywood movies and high end advertisement campaigns have tens or hundreds of people working on them. By tapping into this extensive pool of talent and skill, the video production company can ensure that every area of your work is superb. Otherwise you can end up with a video that is well-scripted but poorly shot, or has excellent visual media but terrible audio.
3. Access to Better Equipment
While it’s possible to see a freelancer with higher end equipment, they usually only have one type of high end equipment. Because freelancers generally come from a specific specialty, a freelancer might have high end editing equipment but not high end production equipment, or high end video equipment but poor quality audio equipment. Even the most talented and skilled freelancer simply cannot escape the quality of the tools that they use. When it comes to video, there is absolutely nothing that can mitigate a poorly shot video.
Production companies have absolutely everything they need for a high end production, ranging from cameras to teleprompters. This ensures a higher quality of production overall, in addition to making it easier and faster to complete the project. This is where you can get a better value for working with a production company, as it’s usually not a big deal for them to throw in additional equipment on the house to increase the production value of the project.
4. Better Systems in Place
Good project management is critical when it comes to video production. One of the most important differences in working with a production company versus a freelancer lies within the systems they have in place to make for a smooth and successful production process. Because of the multi-crew environment of a production company everything can be handled through a single, effective, and consolidated system. This includes the creative brief, the scripting, storyboarding, production crew and equipment, and editing and motion graphics.
And this also includes the customer service aspect. If you have a question or comment about your project and your freelancer happens to be on a different film shoot that day, the freelancer isn’t likely to get back to you within a reasonable amount of time. When a production company is involved, you’ll have the answers that you need quickly through their dedicated and available support staff.
5. Ensuring a Timely and Quality Product
Finally, video production is really all about the final project. There are many companies that have attempted to save money by hiring a freelancer only to never actually receive a finished product. Freelancers can disappear for a variety of reasons. Not all of them are outright scams; they can just decide to exit the business and you’ll never hear from them again. If a freelancer is found on Craigslist or a similar site, there are no avenues through which to contact them. They can’t even be given a bad review online because they often have no web presence. This leaves the company scrambling to find a more reputable source of their video.
But it isn’t just about getting a product at all — it’s also about receiving a timely product. Even the best freelancers will take far longer than a dedicated production company because they simply don’t have the same resources. Freelancers are often working on multiple projects and cannot prioritize yours. A video production company has the staff and resources to prioritize and complete multiple projects at once, so that you can have complete confidence in the time table offered.
A video project is a significant investment of both time and money. When embarking upon such a project, it’s often worth it to ask the “Truck Question”: “What happens if someone involved in this project is hit by a truck?” When you hire a freelancer, you’re putting your entire project in their hands. If they fail to give you what you need, you have virtually no recourse but to start from scratch with a qualified business. Because of this, a video production company is almost always the better solution. A video production company has the skills, talent, and resources necessary to ensure that your video production meets your specifications, under your budget, and by your deadlines.
Article by Joe Forte