How to write a video brief

By April 29, 2014how to guides


A good brief will help you refine your ideas and guide you through the planning process.
Here’s the key information to get you started.

1. who is the audience?

Understanding who your audience will be is key to making a successful video. Is it for existing clients to tell them what you do? is it to attract new donors or funders, or is it to tell the world about a new project ? Film content can be designed to appeal to different audience.

If you make this clear at the start, a good production company will work with you on the treatment to make sure the film delivers the results that you want.

2. where will it be shown?

It’s important for production companies to know this because it can have an impact on the way a film is shot – something that’s designed for Facebook needs to work without sound or if it’s for mobile then shots need to be bigger and bolder.

You may even need a couple of different versions because Twitter and Instagram have limits on the length of video you can play.

3. what are the key messages

A brief description of the subject matter and who is likely to be in it. A few lines on the backstory of a planned video and how the film fits within a wider communications strategy can really help a production company.

Keep it short and to the point- a paragraph or 2, maximum. Now’s the time to be realistic about how much you can fit into a short film. Sometimes we get a 10 page outline for a 2 minute film: a good rule of thumb is that a page of script takes up a minute and a half of screen time. Don’t try to include everybody – it’s better to have 2 good interviews than 5 rushed clips.

Give a brief idea of who is going to be in the film and what they’re going to be doing. For example, is it going to be an interview with a chief executive in their office or film of volunteers in action.

4. how long does it need to be?

For on-line and website use, most people aim for 2-3 minutes. If you’ve got a lot to say, then perhaps aim to make a couple of short films rather than a single long one.

If you let the production company know the length, then they can work out how long the film will take to make, what resources it’ll need and help them come up with a more accurate budget.

5. where are the locations?

An idea of locations will enable the production company to estimate how long the job will take and enable them to factor transport and overnight accommodation into their budget.

6. what’s the time frame?

You may have a launch date in mind to coincide with a campaign, or have airtime booked with a media buyer. A time frame not only allows clear planning and preparation but will also alert a production company if it needs to re-schedule staff, book freelancers in a hurry and juggle their production schedule to accommodate your job.

7. what’s the budget?

A tricky one, but thinking about this before you contact production companies and letting them know the budget range will pay dividends. Many people are wary of this question because they’ve never commissioned video before and might be worried that they’ll be over sold. Like Magneto, like most production companies, can tailor their work to fit a budget. So give your production company a price range and let them know that you’ll be getting several quotes – that way you can be sure that you’ll get a competitive quote that will give you the most bang for your buck.

[vc_cta_button call_text=”If you’d like some free advice on commissioning film or preparing a brief then give Gaby or Jeremy a ring on 020 7274 2986 or drop us a line…..” title=”email Magneto for free advice” color=”btn-warning” href=””]

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