Eight compelling reasons your company should hire a field producer (onion rings not included)
Not all corporate videos are shot in conference rooms. In fact, this assignment for an herbal
medicine company involved no neckties whatsoever...
One of the most frequent questions we field from clients at Award Productions is “Do I need a 3-person camera crew (with field producer) or a 2-person crew (just camera and sound technician)?”
At times, a client may submit a list of questions and request that the cameraman conduct the interview while operating the camera. We advise against this, but not because of the money.
We’re not in the business of “upselling,” the sales technique that prompts fast food cashiers to push the combo meal or suggestively ask — as a courtesy — if you have a craving for french fries or onion rings.
In fact, there are two situations where we suggest NOT hiring a field producer:
1. If you are covering a lecture or event where there will be no interviews interspersed into the mix.
2. If you are gathering only basic B-roll footage of your desired subject, with no additional interviews.
The critical factor: Interviews!
Whether you are doing a formal sitdown with dramatic lighting, or rough-and-tumble MOS “man/person on the street” interviews, an experienced field producer will ensure you the best results in both favorable and unfavorable circumstances.
Network news shows and entertainment programs routinely use field producers whenever there is not a “live” interview with the host. Here are some reasons why it makes sense to hire them for corporate videos, video news releases and other marketing projects:
1. Not All Interviewees Are Created Equal: Human beings are programmed with a wide range of eloquence that often has little to do with education level. Some people talk way too much. Some deliver nouns and adjectives like they are kidney stones.
A skillful producer can coax the blabbermouths to tighten their sentences and the silent types to be more expressive — at least enough to vividly communicate your message on tape. After the cameras are turned off, we’re comfortable with letting people revert back to their natural states.
2. Producers are Born Storytellers: How long would you listen to an audiobook or podcast if the narrator/host had a monotone delivery? More often than not, how something is said is just as important as what is said. Producers are natural conversationalists and can usually extract additional energy and enthusiasm from their subjects just by the way they ask a question and direct the course of an interview.
3. Producers are Born Journalists: If they’re doing their jobs right, field producers make your passion their passion. Their journalistic curiosity and drive will sometimes give you soundbites and anecdotes you never expected, perhaps encouraging you to explore new avenues.
4. Sometimes You Need a Velvet Sledgehammer: Many times in the public relations arena, there is no mystery to what an interview subject will say. Because you have written the line for them. Or they just need to elaborate on a theme that will fit perfectly in your script. But how do you make a scripted remark sound unscripted?
A diplomatic producer can ask a subject to repeat the same few lines dozens of times — amazingly without coming across as demanding or unreasonable.
5. You’ll Benefit from Bonus Media Consulting: On a corporate shoot, an experienced camera crew should be your advocate from the moment the camera’s turned on to the moment it is turned off. They should tell you if there is spinach in your teeth, if you stumbled during a key point, or if you unintentionally frowned in the middle of a soundbite. Not making consistent eye contact with the interviewer, for example, can make an interviewee appear shifty and suspicious.
The camera operator or sound technician will point these things out when they see them, but are sometimes inevitably preoccupied with the more technical aspects of their jobs. The producer, however, will be 100 percent focused on your every syllable — and can even assist you with shaping your message.
6. Producers Focus on Client Relations: A public relations entourage on a corporate shoot might occasionally get large enough to field its own softball team, but sometimes it is just the camera crew left alone with the client. Especially in these cases, the producer becomes an extension of your company. During set-up time for camera and lights, the casual interaction between producer and client can establish a positive tone to build on the entire day.
7. Be Prepared For Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it often will. Corporate producers trained in broadcast journalism don’t get flustered. They’ve been through it all: hazardous weather conditions, uncooperative subjects, dangerous neighborhoods, the most unpredictable circumstances imaginable. Seasoned producers improvise and make things happen, regardless of how convenient an excuse may be to fail.
8. Producers are Errand Boys (or Girls) with Superb Vocabularies: In between interviews, producers can also eagerly fetch coffee, donuts — or even onion rings — for the rest of the camera crew.
In all seriousness, there are other scenarios where it makes sense to hire a production assistant instead of a producer — we’ll save that for another blog post. In the meantime, check out some companies and nonprofit organizations that have been thrilled with our team of producers and HD camera crews.