12 Tips For Writing A Winning Video Brief

Before writing a video brief, it’s useful to understand the process involved in producing video content. Video production moves through four key stages; Development, where your ideas are formed, Pre-Production where all the logistical aspects of your production are considered, Production, where your videos are filmed and Post-Production where your films are then ultimately made.

To give you a head start, we’ve put together some handy little tips to get your creative juices flowing and to help you write that all in important video production brief.

1) WHAT TYPE OF FILM ARE YOU PRODUCING?

Video is a highly versatile medium. If you can tell us whether you’re seeking to make a corporate film, an infomercial, a television commercial, a music video, a promo film, a viral video or alternatively a documentary, then we will immediately understand where your film sits. If your film is for commercial purposes, you might want to give some thought to where your video fits in the purchase funnel. 

2) WHO IS THE AUDIENCE FOR YOUR FILM?

The most effective films are tailored to their audience. It’s critical to know who your films are aimed at because understanding who we need to reach will shape everything from the the script and the tone of the film, to where and when your videos should be published.

3) CALLS TO ACTION

What you would like your viewer to do once they have watched your film? A good video should end with a compelling call-to-action (CTA) and leave a positive impression. On YouTube this CTA might be to invite the viewer to subscribe to your channel or alternatively you might ask your viewer to give you a call, make a donation or visit your website. If you intend to use an alternative hosting partner for your videos, then you might well also be able to add a form to the end of your film to capture leads directly from within the video content.

4) WHAT IS YOUR FILM ABOUT?

It’s usually a bad idea to cover too many subjects within a single video. The most effective videos are usually quite succinct and address one subject in sufficient detail rather than diluting the message by paying lip-service to too many topics. The issue with films that try to take on too much, is that they can easily become too long. It will fail to retain the interest of the audience and simultaneously fail to go into enough detail to satisfy the enthusiastic viewer or fan.

5) WHAT VALUES DOES YOUR BUSINESS STAND FOR?

The most effective films possess an interesting or moving story. This is as true for B2B comms as it is in B2C projects. In order to have a compelling story, there has to be either a conflict or a challenge to overcome. By over coming the hurdle presented within the film your audience will be moved emotionally. Understanding which emotional triggers to pull is really important as these should reflect the same values as those your brand stands for. 

6) WHAT TYPE OF STORY SHOULD I TELL?

From Shakespeare to Spielberg, there are only seven basic story types which include Overcoming the Monster, Rebirth, Quest, Journey and Return, Rags to Riches, Tragedy and Comedy. Understanding the seven different stories is a comprehensive subject so we’ve produced a more digestible blog post on the subject entitled ‘How To Add Style To Your Story’ which is designed to help you pick the right story type for your needs. For some worthwhile reading on how to tell a story, we recommend Robert McKee’s excellent book ‘Story’.

7) WHERE ARE YOUR FILMS GOING TO BE SEEN?

How you intend to use your film will impact upon the final budget so it’s important to clarify this information early on, to avoid any nasty surprises. Usage covers everything from which channels the films will be seen on, to which territories the film will be made available in. Letting us know where your films are going to be seen informs everything from the running time of your films, to the cast, crew and equipment required to produce your content.

8) DOES YOUR FILM REQUIRE ACTORS?

If your film isn’t driven by interviews then it is quite possible that you may require either professional actors, some employees or alternatively a voice over artist to propel your narrative. We can source any actors you may require however depending on the type of film you’re looking to produce then the rates for enlisting such actors can vary. Actors for a television commercials in the UK are covered by Equity and even with corporate films, an actor will typically earn a fee for their work in addition to a buyout which protects their image rights for an agreed period of time.

If budget is an issue, then you might consider using staff or friends within your films however it is unlikely you will obtain the same results from an amateur actor as you would from a professional and it will almost certainly take longer to produce.

9) LOCATIONS

Are there any specific locations which are pertinent for your production? This is important to know as it can help us locate local crew. It is also important for other logistical considerations such as calculating an appropriate call time and coordinating movement orders. If you need any help with your location recce then you might find our other blog handy ‘6 things to look out for on your location recce

If you know your production will have to be shot in a specific location please do let us know when submitting your brief.

10) DO YOU HAVE ANY EXAMPLES OF SIMILAR FILMS WHICH YOU LIKE?

Visual references can be tremendously helpful for conveying your ideas. Send your reference films our way and we will make sure the final product gets as close as possible to your intentions.

11) KNOW YOUR BUDGET

An understanding of your budget can really help us focus when developing creative ideas for your project. Lots of people find themselves feeling a little uncomfortable when asked to be so open about the budget they’re prepared to spend on their videos however the question isn’t intended to catch you out, instead it’s about making sure you get the best production values possible for your budget. At Element 26, we’re a highly creative and extremely resourceful bunch meaning we always strive to put as much of your budget on screen as possible.

12) KNOW YOUR DEADLINE

It is essential that we know your key dates. Whilst the production schedule will vary from production-to-production, we typically recommend you allocate between 6-8 weeks for your film to go from proposal sign-off to completion. We will obviously do our best to accomodate any key dates you have in mind, for instance if your production relates to a live event, then the shoot would have to take place in conjunction with that event.

If you’re thinking about producing some video content and would like to benefit from our experience, then why not jump on a call with one of our producers. We look forward to hearing from you.

About the Author

Nathan Haines

Nathan is the managing director of Element 26 and an expert in video production and video marketing. Nathan enjoys supporting companies to grow their businesses using video. Get in touch on Twitter @element26uk

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