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Review: VASST's Making Money Making Videos
Posted Mar 20, 2010 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Does your video business make a profit? How do you really track if you're making a profit, and how can you bring home more on every project? VASST's Making Money Making Videos instructional DVD purports to teach us how to do it. This disc is hosted by Kevin Hicks and Brian Balog of Hark Productions. It's presented in 16:9 widescreen and runs 65 minutes. The first few minutes of this DVD (on getting your business established) feel a tad unprepared. I wasn't sure what I was in for, but I'm glad I kept watching. The DVD quickly moved into details of building your reel, bartering for services, negotiating, bidding and quoting jobs, and the all-important "getting the client's budget." Speaking of budgeting, the accuracy of your budget is key. Kevin and Brian do a great job of breaking down all the possible line items you need to take into consideration.

There are lots of lower-thirds and full-screen graphics to help illustrate the business and accounting principles involved. Kevin and Brian often have a very engaging, informal style. They talk about production budgets and contracts like other guys talk about SportsCenter. Am I that much of a geek to get into this stuff? I guess so. I think what I appreciated most about this DVD is that it rarely discussed the software or the cameras; it's mostly about the business aspects of running your business. It's an area addressed by very few vendors (EventDV columnist Steve Yankee being one of them).

If you're looking for instruction on video gear or production, you've come to the wrong place; this training title is not about equipment and techniques. It does touch on when to buy versus when to rent and how to get the most for your money. But it is all about running your business to make a profit, not how to setup and shoot interviews with three-point lighting.

The DVD just skims the "establishing your business" topics, but the information presented is effective. If we would all exploit the contacts we make every weekend while shooting wedding, we'd be well on our way to building a corporate client reel. While the video does spend a small amount of time on networking and finding potential clients, the lion's share of the instruction assumes you already have clients asking for your services.

The DVD continues on with payment structures, discussions of intellectual property and who owns it, and dealing with small and large companies. It also addresses preproduction issues: You may have planned ahead and printed out a shot list, but did you ever think about bathroom availability for your talent? I can guarantee you, your talent will thank you for it. Additionally, contracts, releases, locations, call sheets, and schedules are covered in detail.

Making Money also discusses aspects of the production phase-specifically, equipment, logistics, and people. The DVD provides resources for finding free and cheap production and crew help. If you're a one- or two-person shop, Kevin and Brian go to great lengths to explain when and why you would add a crew member-or why you might not. They're all about maximizing the profit of the job, and a big part of that is controlling the expenses. The "Post Production" section discusses using stock media to save time (which equals money) and by using interns or having crew members wear many hats.

The disc also includes a section on audio, and this is a very welcome chapter. Consistency and Foley are easier to deal with in post if you plan for it during the original production, as they detail very effectively. A section of advanced tips discuss marketing on your website, late payments and collections, as well as other business aspects.

As an added bonus, you can pop this disc into your PC or Mac and access many production and release documents, as well as royalty-free music from VASST and Hark Productions for use in your own productions. Nice! A gag reel featuring numerous flubbed shots by Kevin and Brian and an explanation of production staff titles rounds out the package.

If you're a wedding or event videographer looking to branch out into corporate work, or if you want to produce a documentary/narrative-type video, this DVD covers a lot of ground relating to topics that are necessary in those fields. But even if you're a "weekend warrior," don't be lulled into a sense of "this doesn't apply to me." Most of us know there are more real costs involved in even the smallest wedding video business than are immediately apparent, but do we really know what they are, and how they stack up against what we're paid? In the tag at the end of this video, Kevin states: "If you're as detailed about your business as you are about your video, you'll do great." I'd have to agree. I'm watching it again this week to take more notes.

David McKnight (david at mcknightvideo.com) is half of McKnight Video of Houston. He is vice president of the Houston Professional Videographers Association (HPVA), has Sony Vegas and HDV certification, is the technical editor of the forthcoming Vegas Pro 9 Editing Workshop (Focal Press), and is a contributor to TheFullHD Book (VASST). He and his wife, Christie, are winners of multiple HPVA awards.


Kevin HicksWhy We Made Making Money Making Videos

by Kevin Hicks

 Back in April, my business partner–Brian Balog–and I were at NAB as part of the VASST speaker team. We participated in a handful of presentations, including lighting basics, guerilla filmmaking, and getting the shot.

Two of the sessions we participated in centered around the finances and legalities surrounding the business of video production. As NAB was winding down, I had a meeting with Douglas Spotted Eagle and Mannie Frances to discuss us taking what we had presented to a new level and going into production on a training DVD that would delve in to this subject matter. So we compiled the VASST presentations with our own notes and past work experience and went into active production almost immediately.

The result was Making Money Making Videos: Increase Your Profits in all Stages of Production, and it is an information-dense resource that will prove to be invaluable to both videographers and indie filmmakers at any production size or budget level. Drawn from the experiences of different individuals in different business stations, the DVD is filled with practical information that will help you avoid the trappings that can put any production into an expensive, time-consuming tailspin.

 The DVD covers intellectual rights, contracts and releases, budgetary issues, compensation timelines and protocols, and offers up plenty of tips and suggestions that will save you money pre-production, production, and post-production.

 A colleague of mine watched it and said that it would pay for itself on a single job.

We also included a lot of bonus materials, including a segment on large crew positions and duties, legal documents and royalty free music samples that you are free to use in your productions.

Making Money Making Videos was, literally, years in the making. It draws from a lot of business bumps and bruises and gives you the information you need to be an educated, prepared, and cautious videographer or filmmaker.

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