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How to Cast behind the Camera of Your Marketing Video

You may be forced to use a crew that has little or no experience in making a marketing video. Do not be daunted by this scenario. A shoot using a simple three-person crew — a director, producer, and camera person — can make a good video.

The first crew decision you make for your video is which role you want to take — most likely, director or producer. Directors tend to maintain creative control, and producers run the logistics of the production.

Decide on a director

In the movies, the director is the only person whose name (sometimes) appears above the movie title, along with the names of the leading actors. The reason is that the director literally calls the shots by deciding where the camera should be positioned, setting up every scene, working one-on-one with actors on their performances, and making the whole production come together.

Good direction requires that you guide every action that happens during a shoot — and that you keep an eye on how it all looks in editing, decide which shots may be needed to make a moment work, and make changes on the fly whenever necessary.

Good directors work well with actors by putting them at ease, giving clear and specific direction, and setting the tone for the entire shoot. The job requires highly developed technical skills and skills for working with people.

If you feel that you best understand the content of your script, and if you’re comfortable choosing shots and working with actors, the director’s chair is the spot for you. The director has the most powerful role in a shoot — the one who gets to say “Action!” or “Cut!” and the visionary who answers to no one (except for the producer).

Procure the producer

The director may be “the big cheese” creatively, but the producer ultimately is the even bigger cheese. In Hollywood, the producer picks the project, hires the cast and crew, and, most importantly, finds the financing and writes the checks. Though the role of a producer is sometimes unclear (even to producers), a capable producer is truly invaluable. The producer assembles, or “produces,” all the elements that combine to create a film production.

In your video, the producer should be considered the supervisor of the project, responsible for following the budget, procuring the location, scheduling the cast and crew, acquiring props and costumes, printing scripts, providing food and drink for the ensemble, and ensuring that the director sticks to the schedule.

Though the producer doesn’t physically perform every job in a film, this person must ensure that every job gets done. (“Get it done” should be every good producer’s motto.) If you believe that you can turn the chaos of a video shoot into order, or if you know someone who can, you’ve found your producer.

Secure a camera person

On your shoot, you don’t need an artiste. You need a good camera person — someone who can make your scenes look their best and who can determine not only the proper camera angles but also break down individual shots. This person may see things you didn’t notice when you put your video on storyboard, such as the need for an extra close-up or how to break a single shot of two characters into a dynamic series of back-and-forth moments.

A camera person’s eye should be trained at all times on the camera’s LCD monitor — to see what the video will look like, to catch actors who “drift” out of the frame, to ensure that microphones are hidden, and to determine whether the lighting is too dim or too bright. The camera person should be able to look at a scene on a shoot and picture how it will look eventually onscreen. Like a painter or photographer, a camera person needs a good eye.

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