A gentleman came in to visit us today who is interested in getting some fundraising and marketing video for his organization. One question he asked was: “What am I getting when I hire a professional video production company that I might not get if I sought out a camera guy to shoot some footage for me?” This is a very sensible question, and there’s no single answer, of course – cameramen and production companies come in all shapes and sizes – but there were a couple things we mentioned.
Collaboration versus for-hire. Usually the biggest difference between a cameraman and a video production company is that a company (even if it’s small) will typically be collaborating with you more as a partner in your marketing efforts. Every company has at least one person who is a producer. There are many different definitions of “producer,” but in the context of marketing video, the producer is frequently the person who engages the client in advance of filming to understand their objectives, share their own marketing advice, and suggest ways to accomplish the client’s goals using video. They approach each project, therefore, as collaborators.
Cameramen, however, are more about…cameras! This isn’t to say that a cameraman can’t be a producer, but they are often quite happy to bounce around, hiring themselves out from one day to the next and filming interesting things. When they aren’t hired directly by clients, they are often hired by producers.
Post-production expertise. The other service that a production company will offer is post-production, or editing. Again, cameramen can also be editors, but it isn’t their primary skill set. The skills needed for editing very much depend on what kind of marketing video is being created. It might be storytelling driven through special effects or it might be storytelling from a more documentary-style approach.
Additionally, because the producer has been involved from the earliest stages of the project, and perhaps even helped conceptualize it, he or she is going to be in a better position to guide the post-production process and ensure that the final video serves the client’s needs.
Having said all this, many times hiring a cameraman makes more sense. If your need is more about capturing video rather than creating it, a cameraman is probably the better choice.
Photo: Jon Gos