Can Your Nonprofit Make a Video for the Price of Pizza?

By Bix  |  April 16, 2012  |  Messaging,Nonprofit Communications

When we made the video Sh*t Men Say to Men Who Say Sh*t to Women on the Street (which we wrote about going viral recently), we had a million ideas, a ton of enthusiasm, and zero budget. But we were determined to do it, and it ultimately cost us:

2 large pizza pies for planning meeting:   $30.00
Snacks / beverages for day-of shoot:   $27.00
Transportation (donated by Fivel Rothberg):   Free
Equipment rental (in-kind by M.Ink Productions):   Free
Cinematography and editing (in-kind by Fivel Rothberg):   Free
Talent (Donated by various wonderful men):   Free
Music (via Creative Commons license):   Free
Total:   $57.00

Script development time: 8 great minds x 3 hours = 24 hours
Filming time: 6 hours x 3 people = 18 hours
Editing time: 24 hours x 2 people = 48 hours
Total time: 90 hours

If you were to hire professionals, this 120-second, no-frills video would likely cost between $3,500 and $6,000. In general, it’s absolutely worth it. We recommend working with professional videographers and editors – especially if you are showing your film at a gala or a professional setting, like a conference. Or on your website. Everyone today has a smart phone and some type of editing software, but these two ingredients maketh not a good video.

But you can do it for little more than the price of pizza if you:

  1. Have a director – a staff person who coordinates it all.  This needs to be someone with experience in video/ multi-media and an ace project manager who keeps all the different pieces integrated.
  2. Develop a strong script. Then, cut it down by at least 10 percent. A team can work on it, but have a main writer, who can chop one too many “You knows”.
  3. Invite your volunteers and supporters to help. You can often find great skills and resources among your pool if you only ask (nicely, and once in a while and then thank, thank, thank them). Students are a great resource as long as they have technical skills – and clear directions from… the director.
  4. Recruit acting/ voiceover/music talent among staff, supporters, friends, and family (which is what we did). If you can’t find your George Clooney among the near-and-dear, you can find actors on Craigslist who will donate their talent, but you’ll need an audition to find exactly the right person/ people. Plan an extra day or two for this.
  5. Acquire equipment as an in-kind donation – usually possible if you credit the company. Ask the videographer and the production/rental company what you’ll need. The minimum will be a camera, good microphone, and an editing studio.
  6. Scout out your location in advance, preferably on the same day of the week and time you plan to film. This way, you’ll know if there’s construction work taking place before your entire film crew shows up. If you are planning on filming outdoors, you will likely need a city permit. Also, if you have a long shoot, scout out a restroom. Someone is bound to need it.
  7. Don’t forget to get release forms granting permission from whomever you film or photograph. Without them, you cannot use the footage. Yes, even if it is your great-uncle.
  8. Get dependable day-of assistance, like a few interns or volunteers who have specific roles and can also pitch in as you need. You’ll need help with everything from giving directions to having a guard for the pricey equipment.
  9. Have a clear plan of who is doing what and when. This might seem obvious but we cannot emphasize it enough. It’s what will keep you and everyone else on track. And if it helps, you can carry it around on a clipboard and feel Hollywood-esque.
  10. Bring an extra-large dose of humor with you. Seriously. A lot can go wrong on a video shoot (people running late, a very loud helicopter hovering, parking problems — need we go on?), so be ready to roll with the punches and have a lot of fun.

Happy moviemaking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *