How to choose a film production company or photographer?

I’ve been the advertising business making brand films, tv ads and the like for over 25 years. By trade I am an award-winning Creative Director, turned Agency Founder, now Non Exec and Investor.

I’ve worked with Apple, Barbour, Beckham, John Lewis, Superdrug, Westfield and many more leading brands. I’ve worked on movies. The works.

It’s a frightening amount of time when I think of it. So many ads. So many shoots. So many late nights, early morning and crazy deadlines. So many locations. It is NOT a glamorous life being out there with a million moving parts, spinning plates, praying for the weather to stay good, that the talent hasn’t a skin outbreak and the dog doesn’t each the child on set. It’s mad.

In all that time, I’ve worked with over 100 different production companies, way more directors and photographers and so many production people.

I can name the top 5. I’ve worked with them over and over and over. And I probably wouldn’t work with many of the rest of them.

Why? Trust.

I love working with people that ‘get it’ and do what they say. Great film production people cover every detail. The almost see the matrix – and do your thinking for you. They bring your ideas to life in new and wonderful ways. They do magic with low budgets – let’s face it, if you’re in marketing or at an agency, we all want the moon on a stick, at lolly pop prices.

Sad. But true.

Before I give you my top tips. I’ll also share a story. I worked with the founders of Film Punks in various guises over the years at other production companies. When they said they wanted to reboot under a new brand, I jumped at the chance of not just helping them. I’m now the Chairman and a shareholder.

And I put my name behind everything they do. Because there never let me down, always amazed me and they have every day since we started working together. Remember that old Remington TV Ad, I love the product so much, I bought the company… well… similar.

These guys are brilliant. I trust them. If you work choose to work with them, you’ll find out why too.

Anyway – my top tips to are:

  1. Portfolio and Past Work – take a look at their showreel and samples of their work. Does it look and feel credible and the type of quality you’re looking for? Is so, that’s big tick.
  2. Industry Experience – Do they have experience in your industry? This isn’t always necessary, but look for ways they may have solved problems or challenges that they’d face working for you. Shoots on location. CGI. Small products. Big products.
  3. Professionalism and Speed – Send an enquiry, how quickly do you hear back, how professional is the communication and response. yes, we want to work with humans and the people bit matters – but do you get a trustworthy feeling? Another big tick.
  4. Credibility – Do they work with big brand clients, and do big high quality work?
  5. Creativity – Can you see how great they are in their work, and when you tell them what you want to achieve can you feel that they’ll take your ideas even further, bringing their own magic to your project? That’s a big indicator… if they’re not excited to do your work, you won’t get exciting work from them.
  6. Testimonials – who’s shouting about them? Maybe ask to speak to a couple of clients for a reference? I tell you now, Film Punks are first class and I’ll stake my reputation on it.
  7. Project Management – Ask how they’ll handle your project? Who will run it? And how? It’s not just about the ability to get work done, a great production company get the work done brilliantly and seamlessly.
  8. Team – who are the people handling the work? What access to talent do they have? Location scouts? Who will be the producer on the project? This really matters. A great producer is critical. You have to like them and believe they’ve got all the details covered.
  9. Capability – Do they have access to all the tools needed to get the work done great. The production company themself doesn’t have to be a huge team – it’s standard industry practice to have a small core team and bring in the right production talent – but ask how they scale up, what’s their capability – do they have a credential deck that you can review them fully at leisure? If they can’t send you that immediately, they’re unprepared generally. Beware!!!
  10. What does your gut say? If it feels good, and you have ticks next to all of the above… you’ve provably found your perfect team.

Best of luck!

Gellan