A lot of people think “wouldn’t it be great to get a little documentary or promo video made up”, but then when they start talking to videographers and looking into it, they’re shocked at exactly how much it costs to make a movie.
Film production is big business – and it’s hard to make something on a small budget, at least not anything that people want to watch. The costs for making a movie – a full-length studio one – were about $65 million back in 2007, with another $35 million for distribution and marketing – and those bills are only increasing. Even a low budget movie such as Napoleon Dynamite cost $400,000 to make. Stuff like The Lord of The Rings costs a lot more to make and market. Of course, The Lord of The Rings made a huge amount in cinemas around the world – but there are many other movies that flop, leaving the studios with a huge hole in their budget.
But where do those costs come from? Well, there are lots of expenses:
– Scripting and development
– Special effects
– Sound and music
If you wanted to make a short movie yourself, then you could, in theory, cut some of those costs. You will need a good camera and a good microphone, and a quiet area to shoot. You could use yourself and your friends/employees as cast members, and edit the video yourself on your computer. However, you might be surprised at how long all of that takes.
Curiosity Creative, a social enterprise in North East England, ran a project making simple videos 1-3 minutes long, using free editing software and static props for most of the content. For the average person to come up with an idea, turn it into a script, pick out the items they wanted to use and then record the videos took two sessions of five hours each – that’s to make a simple short video. Recording the script would often require more than one take, and editing everything so that the ‘scenes’ flowed well and the images transitioned smoothly would take a chunk of time as well. Imagine doing that with actors – getting everyone to actually play their role correctly at the right time – and avoid interruptions from passers-by, traffic, mobile phones or pets would be quite a feat.
Lighting, sound quality, music and having a decent cameraman are all issues as well. That’s why getting a professional to make a video is important, but also costly – you’re paying for the kit, AND for the time that it takes to learn to use it well.
Marketing is a whole extra concern that a lot of people overlook, and that it’s well worth investing in marketing if you want to get the best return on your attempt to make a video.
The chances are that your short video is going to be used for a marketing stunt of some form – whether posting it on Facebook or streaming it online somewhere – but simply publishing content is not going to get you much response. You will be better off if you can target a specific audience and get people to take some action after watching the video. Otherwise, all you’re doing is shouting into the wind. There are lots of other people making videos as well, and people have a limited amount of time to watch the content that is out there. For this reason, it’s vital that you give people a reason to want to watch your content over that of your other people’s.
When you try to make a film, you’ll quickly see why it costs so much to make one – movie production requires a huge number of people to get involved with them. All of those people need to be paid. If you’re going to make money from people, then it’s unethical to expect them to work for free. When you add up the value that you’re getting from the videos, though, it starts to make more sense to invest in getting the best possible content made – and that may mean a shorter video to keep costs down.