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Selecting a supplier

After defining the brief, selecting the supplier is the second step to successful video; get both of these right and the result will be a video which works for its intended audience.

With several thousand active producers and production companies offering a variety of styles, technical approaches and cost levels, care in selecting a supplier is important. Even where you have a preferred and trusted supplier in place, it can be instructive to invite a small group of producers to submit programme ideas and budgets.

Preparing a short-list
First build a "long list" of possible producers, using any contacts and sources you can find. Recommendations from people you trust who have commissioned video are best. But you may need to extend these using directories, trade associations or even Yellow Pages. (Other sources for generating a long list are included in the appendix to this site some resources.)

Contact these producers and ask to see examples of work, and for their typical budget range. Then choose a "short list" of three or four possible producers. Choose producers you can afford who can show you excellent video in styles that might appeal to your target audience.

Give these producers your brief. Ask them for a written description of the type of programme they would recommend, what it would contain, how it would look, and how much it would cost.

Evaluating pitches
It will quickly become obvious who has grasped your objective and has sensible proposals which may work for your audience, and who has simply recycled standard material or does not seem to have a feeling for your subject or audience.

The key questions here are: Which approach will work best? Can we afford it? Can we work with these people? Will everyone whose approval is needed agree on a particular choice?

It's also important to consider likely programme length: often a striking idea can make an effective poster or one-liner, but seem desperately stretched and thin after even five minutes. Does the suggested idea have the "legs" to be interesting at whole- programme length?

It can be an expensive mistake to select a producer purely on quoted cost, without looking at example programmes and discussing just what you will get for your money. Video production varies from the effective and engaging to the amateurish, and price is only a poor guide to a producer’s typical quality. You will also want to be clear about what’s included and potential additional charges. As in the building trade, there are producers who will follow a “quote low and bill extra as soon as anything changes in the client spec” strategy.

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