Monday, November 5, 2007

Top Ten points for choosing film services company in India

This is my first post after I came to know as to how Blogs help us share important information with people, existing clients as well as prospective clients. The focus is on sharing the knowledge gained as well as grown with varied experiences with clients across the globe in all these years.

This post would help people who wish to do still-video production shoots in India by going through a basic check-list.

The tough part of work is to assess the quality of work that would be rendered to you. Here are few areas that would help assess the quality of the services that you may get from the required company.

Please do understand; India is an amalgation of multi-cultures. Though, English has been adopted as one of the major business languages but definition of quality would vary from region to region; so one has to be very particular about the requirements and objectives.

Once the objectives are set; one should be extremely cautious on the equipment that would be used. It is recommended to go in detail to an extent the quality of mic's or cameras (how old) being used.

Apart from the equipment; one should be very thorough on places that requires visit. One should extract out as much information as possible from the vendor regarding the place.

Vendors start filtering out as you start asking for more information to be captured in lesser number of shoot days. A good quality vendor company would still provide you information irrespective whether you give business to that company at that point of time.

The home work done by the vendor company on the above will help you get a feel about the company.

Continuing on the quality of work being done by Vendor Company; it is easy for you to assess the knowledge depth of the vendor company; some examples are :

What are the different options the vendor company is assisting you with - be it equipment, production services or locations & travel?

How responsive is the company to your emails?

How concerned is the company about your budget, dates of travel, hotel stay (if outsourced) etc.?

What type of queries does the vendor company have- is Vendor Company doing the effort to bring out the implicit requirements and changing them to explicit requirements so that you don't end up having difference of opinions and landing up into discussions/frictions at the time of shoot especially when every minute is important and needs complete dedication & concentration.

E.g. some clients assume not to have any extra Sound and Light assistants as they would help the crew in managing the equipment; whereas as per Indian environment it could be necessary (depending upon situation) to be a part of the crew to avoid pilferage & breakage of the rented equipment.

Being transparent is one of the most important aspects that the vendor company in India brings in. How would you as a foreigner to this country, would come to know about the level of transparency? Here are the few tips that would help you.

Is Vendor Company querying on equipment and assisting you with options if the equipment is not available at desired location at desired time?

Is Vendor Company helping you understand the place of shoot?

Is Vendor Company helping you locating the best hotel near to the place of shoot so that you spend quality time on the shooting details rather than spending time in traffic jams in metros like Mumbai or Delhi?

Is Vendor Company helping you understand the government policies and procedures, if you wish to shoot on historical monuments?

Once you have answers to the above three points, you would be able to make an impression about the vendor company. Indians are good in making friends and have a very high network of associations across the industry. In India, works gets done faster through personal channel of friendship than professionalism as followed in western countries. Therefore, it becomes very important for you to understand this aspect of cultural difference between the nations. You need to do a balancing act between personal & professional attitude of the vendor company.

There are companies who would act very professionally when it comes to query handling and response time. This good attitude is till the time payment has not been received. Once the payment is received,you may not get as what was committed and you finally end up paying up a huge amount for peanuts.

Then there are companies who may get little personal with you but would also provide good services. Western countries usually like professionalism over personal favors because of the home culture. Please don't hesitate in clarifying if there are too many personal favors being done upon. It is always good to ask at any stage than creating an image about the vendor.

Appearance and trust would build up during the interactions through email or phone calls or chats and one should encourage that. It is always beneficial for you and Vendor Company to know more about each other.

Swiftness & Flexibility
I am combining swiftness and flexibility in one as both are complementary to each other. One should always keep in mind as how flexible is the vendor company. You may come to know during your interactions as whether the company is swift and flexible in making changes to meet changing requirements at your end. Despite of the objectives being set,one can always query upon different alternatives with the vendor company. This would help you in learning more about how the vendor may react when something may go wrong during the shoot and it becomes a fire-fighting situation. Flexibility counts when there is a change of plan and swiftness counts the number of alternatives the vendor company has in fire-fighting situation.

As written above, Indians have the tendency to develop a network as personal touch over professionalism does count in our environment. A good vendor company would have a good reputation among its vendors with whom you may interact during the shoot. This would always help you in verifying the decision or change in style in dealing with the vendor company. A good vendor company would always hire (if required from external companies) associates who are friendly and courteous, provide effective consultancy if required. A good vendor company would constantly take feedback from you on the crew and services during the shoot.

Competency & References
Competency and references also go hand in hand. A competent vendor company would easily provide references.

It could be based on the type of shoot e.g. documentary, interviews, corporate films, advertisements, history.

It could be based on the companies of your country or continent.

One should always demand 1-2 references to gain an insight of the vendor company.

Apart from that; a good vendor company would be honest to refer you the right person incase the vendor company is not competent in the line of business that you are looking for.

The global rule of pricing is "Get More and Pay Less" which is usually never possible but the principle of "Get the best as per your budget' is always true and one should definitely go for the best option. We often get lured by lower prices but please do check whether the company who is offering lower prices understands your requirements. Usually lowered price companies keep very less flexibility when it comes to change in schedule or would charge you for all little expenses during the shoot. The vendor company would also put up charges despite of problem during recording or sound not clear which may be because of bad or malfunctioning equipment.

A good vendor company would provide you the best services at an optimal rate by doing the following -

Understanding your requirements; converting implicit requirements into explicit requirements so that everything is crystal clear before you land in India.

During the shoot a good vendor company is always ready to take the heat at any point of time. A pre-check is done on the equipment before the shoot and very quick in getting the replacement if an equipment malfunctions. They would happily bear the replacement cost as the commitment is of utmost importance to them.

A good vendor company is always looking forward to build healthy relations rather than focusing on the dollar earned from the shoot.

A good vendor company can also be the least expensive in pricing; may be because the equipment and the alternatives that you requested are owned by the company. Another example is; suppose you ordered for 50 tapes to be used in shoot but ended up using only 20 - in such a case a good vendor company would be glad to take it back and not charge you for the entire 50 tapes.

Payment Schedule
A good restaurant would always have a menu with prices before you take a meal and would present the bill after it has provided you good food and services. But unfortunately vendor-client business in our media world does not run on same business lines. A good vendor company would always present you a payment schedule and would be very flexible in receiving payments. Usually the payment schedule is 50% advance and the balance after the final invoice is done inclusive of any change of plans etc during the shoot.

There would be chances that the vendor company is comfortable to receive the entire amount after the shoot has completed based on the trust built up between you and vendor company.

Optional - Laptops or devices with video-shoot reviewing capability
Its good to carry apple Mac’s or laptops with video shoot review capability as it can always help you find problems ( if any) that can be rectified before the work of next day commences. A good day ends when you are completely satisfied by the work done by the entire crew and the shoot is going as per or above your expectations.

I feel all the above important points have helped me retain my business clients all these years and around the globe. During this tenure, I have felt and come across is - Business is driven by repeat customers and not new customers.

Lastly, Something about myself - I have around 8 years of work-experience in the media line and have provided still & video shoot services and consultancy to people, clients, client’s clients across the globe.

Kanika Raheja
Angles Unlimited India Production
"Bringing things to life. Bringing life to things."