ON HIRING CREW: Taking a Lesson from Warby Parker

So, yesterday this happened.

And while it’s not a tragic break and yes probably an easy fix, it was a simple reminder of why my Warby Parkers cost twice as much.

I bought these readers because I thought they were cute—I was looking for a fresh pair of light frames and couldn’t justify plunking another $99 for a new pair (I already have a black pair that work fine). When I spotted these for ONLY $45, OF COURSE I bought them. I mean, they’re super stylish and super cheap. Win, right? Within one month, the arm broke off as I pulled them off my face and the frames fell to the floor. I thought, ‘Ohhhh, this is why Warby.’

If there’s one truth in life it’s ‘you get what you pay for.’ This principle never fails in most purchases, from paper towels (Bounty, always!) to toothpaste to batteries, tools, shoes, licorice—anything. Going cheap is usually closely followed by regret.

When potential clients ask us why we charge what we charge for our work, I always say ‘We’re not the most expensive, but we’re not cheapest either.’ You will never hire us on price, because the cheapest isn’t the best. Ever. You hire us because you want a bespoke, quality product at a fair price. You hire us because we will deliver a high standard of stylish, professional video production effectively and competitively. You hire us because we understand preparation, storytelling and creativity are equally as important as production.

While Warby Parker isn’t by a stretch the most expensive glasses retailer, they certainly aren’t the cheapest either. So why do people pay more for Warby? Their promise is not to be the least expensive, but they do promise and deliver quality and style at a fair price. They care about the customer experience of trying, buying and wearing as much as the product themselves. You want to wear them and be a part of the experience.

So, as this applies to video production, what exactly are the things you should pay more for and why? Why should you pay a little more for the experience of working with someone like Shine versus working with a cheaper vendor?

First, and I’m not being a snob here, we don’t like to think of ourselves as vendors but rather partners. As a partner, we work together with our clients to use our unique set of skills and process to work for their needs. The following are a list of criteria that everyone should consider when looking for a creative video partner. The first rule of thumb—choose wisely.

Quality. If you are looking to do something fast and cheap, quality will undoubtedly suffer. Not all video demands high quality, so it’s a good question to ask yourself–is this important to my project? Is it necessary to my brand’s image to have high quality video?

Experience. If you don’t care about your crew showing up to set with stainy t-shirts and an attitude to match, take ‘experience’ off your list of criteria. A young/green crew (or your 17 year old nephew with a camera) can bring a certain youthful energy to a project, but there’s the off chance you’ll get a team who have never worked in a business environment before and may be unaware of subtle ‘client-relation’ nuances. Making great brand videos and quality work requires experience. Gear aside— life experience is extremely important (and highly undervalued) in communication, organization and creative execution. It pays to work with people who know what’s up.

Creativity. Set up the camera, point, shoot, edit. Capture this. Capture that. Try to make a story out of it. That’s the basic job of a ‘videographer’. On the other hand, if you hire a ‘creative video team,’ it may cost a little bit more, but what you’ll get is a structured creative plan before the shoot. You’ll get a story with an arc, a protagonist, a conflict and a purpose. You’ll get a brand tie-in that’s subtle and effective because the story is good and worth watching.

Chemistry. Making a film/video—especially about people—can be an intimate and personal experience. The crew really needs to be on point with the talent, the client and the story. One loudmouth PA who rattles on about his days spent with Kevin Spacey on the set of House of Cards or a rude director with a giant ego and bad breath can spoil the experience for not just the client, but the crew and the end product. Be choosy with whom you invite in to capture your world, for you will be working very closely and for sometimes many hours with these people. You should like your crew enough to want to break bread and have a few drinks with them—because you probably will.