The Art of Filming C-Suite Executives
Over the years, I've filmed dozens of C-Suite executives including CEO's from the likes of Brooks Brothers, Tiffany & Co., Clinique, FOA Schwarz, Turner Construction, FTSE, Party City, Talbots, Warnaco, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and many more. From my experience, here are a few best practices I follow to ensure success:
Client – Many times, the client who brings me into the project has never produced a video before or they are apprehensive about working with a new producer. I make it a practice to take the time to explain to my clients how the process works. I want them to know that I have extensive experience and I want them to feel comfortable and confident that everything will go smoothly. This puts them at ease and I find that an educated client makes for a great production partner.
Crew - I only work with talented, experienced professionals who bring value to my productions. I’m producing important pieces and it’s imperative that each member of the crew knows their role and knows how to do it well. We always handle ourselves in a respectful, professional manor. We dress appropriately. I ask the client beforehand what is proper dress code and I make sure the crew follows suit. The last thing I want to do is stick out like a sore thumb and if you want the people you are filming to take you seriously, you have to dress the part. A collared shirt or button down shirt, non-ripped dark jeans, and dark shoes usually do the trick but I have been seen working in a suit - at least once or twice.
Proper Preparation – There is no greater recipe for disaster than having to rush. I always make sure there is plenty of time to unload, set up, test and tweak. Better off sitting around waiting than having to scramble. There are often variables that come into play that you need to deal with. Over the years, I've experienced street construction with jackhammers, police actions with sirens, power outages, cleaning crews, etc. When these things happen, you need time to figure out plan B so I always allow ample time for setup.
Time Factor- Corporate executives are busy people. More often than not, they are ready to leave before they enter. I like to know in advance how much time I have to work with them and I devise a strategy for getting through the script in the set timeframe. I like to remind my subject right off the bat that we have them scheduled for x amount of time but then ask them how we're doing with the schedule. What you thought was a thirty-minute session may now really be a fifteen-minute window before they have to run out and deal with a hostile take-over or something. I use this as an opportunity to gage how receptive they may be to direction and multiple takes. Also, by stating upfront the time they have committed, it sets expectations.
Multiple Takes - If I don't think the take was as good as it could be, I tell them - but in a nice way. It’s my job to make the people I film look great. When I need another take, I use phrases like, "not a bad first take, let's do another"; "definitely better than the last one but I think we can do even better" but I never push too hard. When faced with an impatient Executive who just wants to get the hell out, what I do is make it their decision. I ask them to watch the playback and if they are good with it, then so am I. 9 out of 10 times they are going to want to retake. The more footage I get, the more editing choices I have and the better the end product will be.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the client and making them shine. When they look good, I look good and nothing ensures success like knowledge and know-how.
Jay Zellman is the Founder and Creative Director of Corporate Video Concepts, a New York City based production agency specializing in Corporate Communications, Training and Marketing videos. For more than twenty years, Jay has been working with some of the world's most iconic brands, helping them communicate through the use of video. For more information, check out www.video-productions.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.