Video production is an exciting undertaking—but mistakes can cost you. With any given project, we all strive for our best, aiming to improve process efficiencies each and every time, but we’re human. We think we’ve had conversations with one another that we haven’t. We check everything off the list—except for the one item that’ll be our undoing. Sometimes technology just decides to work against us. But like any creatives, we learn from our mistakes.
If you plan to pursue video, we want your experience to go as smoothly as possible. That’s why we’re sharing 12 of the more expensive and embarrassing video production errors we’ve made that cost us money, time, energy, or all of the above. May you never repeat them.
1) Getting the Tagline Wrong
Never forget: The devil is in the details. One time, on a project where everything was going smoothly, we realized the final scene used the word “got” instead of “became” in the tagline. To fix that tiny mistake, we ended up shelling out a five-figure fee (that we, of course, absorbed).
2) Shot List Mix-Ups
Small miscommunications happen. But when they go unnoticed and aren’t reflected in the shot list, small miscommunications become huge headaches. It’s happened a few times—sometimes minor, sometimes major—and each time, we need to adjust things on set in order to make new rental decisions. Before video production begins, check every little point in a shot list. You won’t like the alternative.
3) Bad Actors, Wrong Extras
Headshots can be deceiving. Usually, you get exactly who you expect, but that’s not always the case. Hiring talent based only on a photo doesn’t give you a sense of who they might be IRL on set. (We have actually had an actor scream, “Do you know who I am?!”)
Even if your main actors are good, extras, though background players, can still wreck a scene. In one instance, we had an extra who just simply was not the person she appeared to be in her headshot. We had to remove her, and while that wasn’t a terribly expensive issue, it was indeed a waste of time and energy.
4) Tech Issues
Whether it’s because we didn’t test the equipment until the day-of or we forgot something as small as a cord or adapter, tech issues can sabotage video production at every stage. It needlessly delays everything, and it can’t be solved by a quick decision. No matter what, somebody has to go back to an office, a warehouse, or a store to correct the problem.
5) Neglecting the Art Department
There are so many details to consider in video production that it’s not surprising when a seemingly obvious question goes unanswered.
On one shoot, we had an innocent mix-up about something very, very important: Who the heck was going to paint our set? We inquired about this detail the night before shooting and the answer was nobody. The result was our own team hand-painting materials until 1 a.m. We weren’t even sure if the sets had finished drying when we started rolling.
6) Bad Wi-Fi
A few offices ago, our Wi-Fi was always giving us trouble. It had bad days, and it had miserable days. While on deadline for video, the Wi-Fi was being particularly bunk. Everything was done with hours to spare, but the video wasn’t yet uploaded. Our computer informed us the upload would take days—and the final file was only 3 GBs.
The project’s producer and video editor had to rush to a cyber café to upload it directly to the client’s protected YouTube account. We spent a few minutes on the phone with the client’s security technician, who whispered the password to us over the phone and then immediately changed it when our upload started. It was like we were in an action movie about covert-op hackers.
7) Checking Tech Instead of Talent
Just because a video production agency has high-end cameras with the latest equipment to back it up does not mean they are the most qualified. Sometimes, in nightmare fiascos, they might not even know how to use the goods.
In one or two instances, we’ve been so impressed with what vendors bring to the table that we overlooked their previous projects. Big mistake. Remember: You need people with the skills to shoot quality footage.
8) Improper Permits
For your shoot to succeed, everything needs to be in order. If you don’t have all your proper permits filed, whether it’s city, fire marshall, or otherwise, it can drastically impact your day of production. Worse, you could be shut down or even fined. Make sure someone on the team has your paperwork totally in order.
9) No Parking
If you don’t block out proper parking for your equipment trucks, you’ll either be parking illegally or parking blocks away. One results in the police shutting you down or making you move anyway. The other means your load time is going to be stupefyingly inefficient and, therefore, wasteful.
10) Unqualified Art Directors
Not hiring a qualified art director can lead you straight into overtime. You need someone who will run production efficiently and keep to a schedule. Paying crew members overtime might be one of the most expensive risks, and it’s one nobody really plans for. Everyone thinks all will go fine.
11) Hungover Vendors
Yes, this is actually a thing, and it’s ridiculous. Even though you’re professional on set and expect others to be, your extended crew may think otherwise. When you end up working so closely, they may try to take liberties. Don’t let it slide like we did once with what had to be the most hungover production assistant ever—so lazy and a waste of our time and money.
12) “We’ll Fix It in Post”
This phrase is easy to throw around on set, but it should be avoided at all (inevitable) costs. Things that can be solved in 10 minutes can take hours to do in post-production. When you use this phrase, what you’re really saying is that you haven’t figured out the solution and want to deal with it later.
If you need a little help with your video production planning and want to find a good partner, read our tips on how to choose a video agency. In the meantime, no matter your next project, we wish you a mistake-free production.
The 12 Most Expensive Video Production Mistakes We’ve Made