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3 Tips on Shooting for Big Clients

By Adam Bush on July 24, 2019

Two weeks ago, my pal Tory Cooper (who’s been on our podcast) and I got a call from NASA. Before this post (or I) sound too snooty, know that recently a good friend of ours became the Video Production Advisor to the Director. So, that was our connection.

Tory and I were asked if we could fly to D.C. and shoot three scripted talking heads to fit into an already scripted piece that was being filmed at the space stations. Essentially, our stuff had to fit in seamlessly with what was already happening.

It was one of the craziest turn arounds we’ve ever done, but we did it, we shipped off the footage and it’s already been edited and uploaded. You can watch it here. (We have two shots in the piece, the talking heads at :37 and :39.)

NASA is easily the largest and most prestigious client we’ve ever worked for, and after walking away from the experience I can note several things I did wrong; however, there were THREE things I did right. I want to share them in hopes they’ll help you when you find yourself shooting for a major client (or any client for that matter). Here we go.

I worked diligently to understand the vision

Especially with the short turn around time, I probably could have gotten into the whole shoot thinking, “Well, we’ll get what we get and if it doesn’t work – we really didn’t have enough time,” but that’s lame and a waste of time and money. 

Not only did I talk to the video director several times to really understand what he wanted and why, but I asked for video inspiration and stills of what they’d shot. 

THEN, we called the DP for their unit and asked specifics: What gear are you using? How are you lighting the shots? What are the director’s convictions on set. We talked to him twice. 

We shot with the same gear.

In a setting like this, color matching isn’t the best idea. We DID NOT want our footage to stick out because they shot on a RED camera and we shot on a Canon c200. It makes a difference. We got a list of their gear, including lights and shot with comparable equipment. 

I was honest about the budget.

I wanted to do this gig, but I didn’t want to do it at the expense of my business’s or family’s finances. I sat down with Tory and thoroughly planned out the gear list, travel costs, crew costs and incidentals. I triple checked prices and then included and overage of 5%, which was necessary, because the flights went up at the last minute. 

I’ll be honest, the budget was high, but I wasn’t going to let my fear of not getting the gig weigh into my decision of how much it was going to cost to make the whole thing happen.

So, that’s it. Hopefully these are helpful, and maybe I’ll post another blog about what I did wrong. Happy storytelling!

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