Whether you call them video production companies, film production companies, or just production companies, they all serve relatively the same function – to produce films or videos. If we want to get technical, typically film production companies focus strictly on producing feature films while video production companies take on a wider range of jobs that can include corporate videos, commercials, music videos, and sketch comedy videos.
2 East 8th Productions is a Chicago based video production company and we have something of a hybrid approach to our small business. While our passion is producing short and feature films we also lean very heavily into the corporate video production side of things. From our newly launched real estate videography to a more traditional explainer video to animation offerings, we’re a one-stop-shop for both corporate video and narrative film.
That being said, today we’re taking a look at the role of production companies and what we actually do.
Ideas / Development
A film, a commercial, or a corporate video all start with an idea. These ideas can either come from inside the production company or from someone pitching their original vision. A Producer will take this idea and begin to mold it. Oftentimes they’ll work with a partner or a creative team to flesh out the idea and look at it from every angle. This can include multiple rounds of meetings, brainstorming sessions, notes, and endless pots of coffee. For most Producers, especially us at 2 East 8th, this is one of the best parts of the process because anything is possible.
Once the idea has been given form and direction, and the client or stakeholders are in agreement, the Producer will start putting all the pieces in motion to get that idea made.
Different production companies will handle the writing or the scripting of an idea in a variety of ways. If the Producer is approached with a script then this part may already be taken care of; however, there still may be a necessity for rewrites or for someone to look over the script and make some changes. Conversely, if there’s no script to begin with the Producer’s next job is to get someone to put pen to paper.
Some production companies have writers on staff whose job is to be on call for the next great idea to come across their desks. At 2 East 8th, we handle all writing in-house. Other times, a freelance writer will have to be hired to fulfill the needs of a project.
It’s been said that filmmaking is a team sport and that applies to any type of production from corporate video all the way up to feature films. It truly is a collaborative endeavor and the better your team the easier your production is likely to be. Your primary point of contact at a production company will be a Producer.
As you’ve read from the previous two sections, and you’ll see in the next few, the Producer acts as the ringleader. They’re responsible for helping to organize and coordinate each step in the production process. A big part of this responsibility involves assembling the crew or at least shepherding everyone through the process.
After an idea is fully formed and a script has been written, the next person a Producer will focus on securing is a Director. Once a Director is involved, they will work with the Producer to determine what positions are necessary and complete the roster. A production company has a list of resources and industry professionals they’ve successfully worked with in the past so they have experience in making sure the optimal crew is put in place.
How many times have you watched a film and thought, “I don’t like this person in this role.”? Or watched a commercial and felt like someone from a high school play could have done a more convincing job selling you that product? This is why casting is such an important part of the production process. Making sure the right person is on screen can mean the difference between a successful project and something you pray no one ever sees.
The production company is there to work with the director and the rest of the creative team to ensure the right person finds their way in front of the camera. Sometimes this even means bringing on a casting director who specializes in auditioning actors and finding someone with the exact quality that the project calls for.
Production / Logistics
This may be where production companies shine the brightest. Between equipment rentals, location scouting, filming permits, coordinating schedules, keeping an eye on the budget, and so many more components, the amount of moving parts to any production are staggering. A production company is going to make sure there are people to handle every element of a project.
The scope of the project is really what determines how many people need to be involved in the logistical side of the production. A good production company will be able to employ some resourceful techniques to keep the size and scale manageable while not sacrificing the quality of the final product.
Film Editing / Post-Production
At 2 East 8th we subscribe to the idea that a film, or any video project, is made three times: once when it’s written, once when it’s shot, and once when it’s edited. The post-production phase includes editing, sound design/mixing, color correction, and visual effects and is one of the most important steps in the process. This is where everything finally comes together.
Because of all the different components that make up post-production, having a production company to coordinate all the work is invaluable. Some production companies have partnerships with third-party vendors and will outsource the work to them. Other production companies have the means to handle the work internally, which can sometimes speed up the process. We handle all our own video editing here at 2 East 8th as well as offer video editing as a service for both private and corporate video needs.
In past blogs, we’ve talked about how confusing film industry terminology can be. The same can be said for some of the roles and responsibilities of the people tasked to make film and video. Luckily, video and film production companies exist to relieve you from having to know all the different steps of a production as well as knowing what roles handle each step. Hiring a production company to help you with your project will give you peace of mind and let you enjoy the process. Don’t forget, filmmaking is supposed to be fun!