Video on a Budget: What Marketers Can Learn from Indie Filmmakers

Posted on by Anna Ji

Creating video for everything from product news and explainer clips to employee recruitment and event promotion is now a daily part of marketers’ lives.

The digital video marketing industry has become a $135 billion industry in America alone, with the average business now spending $20k a year creating video content. It wouldn’t be uncommon to spend $10k on hiring an outside video production company to get a single two-minute corporate video, or thousands of dollars for a few Instagram clips.

Not every brand has that kind of money to play with, but marketers who embrace their inner indie filmmaker can master the art of creating great content on a budget. Here’s five tips to get those cameras rolling.

Know What You Want to Say

The first step is figuring out what you want to say and how you are going to say it. If you are doing an employee recruitment video, for example, what are the key messages you want to get across about the company? Who could you interview in the company to tell your story? What B-roll do you need to shoot, such as exterior office shots or footage of employees at work (or play)?

A look at Apple’s employee recruitment video shows they have shots of people working at a whiteboard, sit down interviews, scenes of people working at their desks, Apple’s products being manufactured, etcetera.

Not everyone is good in front of the camera, so consider who on your team is more natural on film. Prep your “actors” with the key questions you’ll ask, so they’ll have answers prepared to help convey the right message to potential employees, customers or investors.

Consider Your Brand Voice

The visual representation of your company should also be considered. Are you a young tech start-up that wants to appear hip and fun? Or, do you want to present the company as more serious and professional to get the attention of C-level execs and investors?

The legendary Fyre Festival Promotional video wanted to create an aspirational exclusive feel, which it did incredibly well. Even if the end results didn’t match the initial promise, their video got everyone wanting to go.

Figuring out your brand voice will touch everything you do—from the type of shots you take to the people you film and the music in the background. Consider creating a brand identity for your videos as early as possible so they all have the same look and feel, and provide a consistent image for your audience.

Before you even watch GoPro’s latest video you know what to expect. You know you are in for a slick action sports video that looks cool and makes you wish you were hang gliding over the Amazon. Successful Instagrammers and vloggers know how to create unique branded content that matches their personal branding. You can always learn something from the masters. Scour YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram looking for content you love and get inspired to create something with your own spin that works for your company.

Build the Right Video Team

Hiring a full-service video production company can be an expensive endeavor. But, if you assume the role of an indie film producer, you can individually hire the team members you need and get the same content done for a fraction of the cost.

A key person for creating great content is a professional cinematographer, also known as a director of photography or videographer. These professionals can help suggest creative ideas for your brand, including interesting shots and angles that will bring your product to life. Posting your job on Craigslist, ProductionHub or Mandy should get a lot of bids from local cinematographers hungry for work. Those on a microbudget can also consider college students who would do it for a minimal fee, to get the experience.

Another important consideration is sound. It is crucial to get crystal clear, good quality audio. If you can afford it, hire a separate sound person to make sure everything is loud and clear. If that isn’t in the budget, work with the cinematographer to find the best solution, which might be as guerilla style as getting an intern to record additional audio on their iPhone.


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It’s All in the Editing

It’s often said that the film is made in the editing room. When you add music, graphics and additional footage to tell your story, your video really comes to life.

While editing used to be something best left to the professionals, with the advances in technology editing software, it has become easy to do. With ready-to-use templates, anyone can be an editor. (Here’s a place you can tap into your in-house resources: In today’s social media-obsessed world, chances are high you already have someone on your team with fantastic editing skills.)

The trick with editing is to get the point as quickly as possible, in an engaging way.

Here’s what you need to incorporate in your clip:

  • Intro and outro music
  • Introductory graphics to introduce the purpose of the video, such as “Why you should work for us?”
  • The company logo
  • Captions to identify the people you interview
  • A call to action

As you are editing, remember that people generally don’t like to watch the same shot for too long. When using interviews, show the subject briefly and then cutaway to shots illustrating what they are discussing, to keep the video lively. If you don’t have original footage that does the trick, sites like iStockPhoto, Pond5 and Shutterstock offer stock footage that you can incorporate into your clip.

Create a Calendar

Once you have the hang of creating your own content, you can plan for the future. Set aside filming days where you can hire your cinematographer to film content that can be used across your various online and social channels for months to come. Consider the calendar—Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.—as well as events and times of year that are relevant to your industry, and create clips specific to your brand and audience.

Like most things, there is always a learning curve, but when you get beyond that, creating video can become one of the most fun parts of a marketer’s job. And who knows? One day you could be winning awards for a video you made for under $300, beating out agencies that had 50 times the budget.

Anna Ji is director of product and growth at Clipchamp.

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