Filmmaking is an art,

we have it down to a science.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions we get about how we work. If you don’t see your question here, please email us at hello@storytellerstudios.com and we’ll add it to the list below.

Are you available on ... ?

Planning and scheduling a professional video production can be challenging. In fact, just the scheduling is often the hardest part. We make it as easy as possible through our always-up-to-date, cloud-based booking app. You can check our availability at any time, day or night, using this calendar link.

What's your process like?

There are 5 phases to our typical project.

Discovery – All of our work is tailor-made to help you accomplish your most important goals. It begins on a discovery call with Executive Producer, Josh Hester, and Production Manager, Lydia Stuemke. Choose “Get Started” from the menu, answer a few initial questions for us, and we’ll reply in one business day with an invite. On the call, we’ll talk through your vision and how we can best help you fulfill it. It all gets written up in a formal proposal. Once the budget is approved and our service agreement is signed, you’ll begin pre-production with Lydia. She’s your concierge every step of the way. 🥂

Pre-Production – Every great video starts with a great plan. Pre-production is arguably the most important work we do. It can also be the most challenging. Lydia and Josh will personally coach you and your team through securing buy-in from key stakeholders, clarifying your message, and scheduling your production day(s). We bring over 20 years of experience to your team and our thoughtful planning tools make it simple. ✔️

Production – Most of the hard stuff is behind us. It’s time to work with our Emmy-winning production crew to follow-through on all we’ve planned. And they do. We are now a team of 7 talented mid-Americans. We’ve worked in 23 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and one Canadian province, but more importantly, we’ve helped small businesses grow, non-profits to raise thousands of dollars for their cause, and national brands land global contracts. Let’s roll!

Post-Production – Video editing is magic. You can expect to receive private review links to your edit(s) within 4 weeks of wrapping production. You’ll have the opportunity to provide feedback and requests for changes. Two rounds of revisions are included in every budget. We’ll work with you until the edits are perfect.

Delivery – Once fully approved, you’ll be provided a secure download link to a zip archive that includes all of the final edited video files and a set of custom thumbnail images you can use when posting to websites, streaming services, and social media channels. We archive every frame we shoot for a minimum of 2 years. Our team is always standing by to assist with any hiccups in getting your videos published. We enjoy following up and hearing our clients tell us they are seeing stronger, more meaningful engagement than ever before. 😉

How long should marketing videos be?

Every effective modern marketing video is three things; brief, authentic, and valuable.

By brief, we mean 3 to 5 minutes for event videos, 4 minutes or less for website videos, and 2 minutes or less for online videos. Our shared goal is to create a story that reaches the right people, connects them to your mission, and moves them to action. We have no hope of accomplishing that if viewers don’t click play in the first place! All of the latest research data shows that modern audiences are much less likely to watch a video online that is longer than 2 minutes.

By authentic, we mean the video features real people, speaking in their own words, and from the heart. We avoid traditional production techniques like scripted voice-overs, on-camera hosting, and unmotivated graphics. Audiences have been marketed to with those techniques for over 50 years. They no longer trust them.

By valuable, we mean your video is teaching the audience something they didn’t already know, showing them something they don’t usually get to see, or entertaining them in some way that is unexpected.

How do we get started?

There are 4 key questions to consider when beginning to plan an effective marketing video or marketing video campaign.

Who is your target audience?

In what ways do you plan to show your video(s) to them?

What message do you want them to hear?

What will your video invite them to do next?

We’ll work toward clear answers to these questions with you in pre-production.

What is pre-production?

Every great video starts with a great plan. We call this “Pre-Production.” It’s the critical work that takes place before the cameras roll. In fact, it’s so critical we’ve created a messaging and planning guide. The guide is intended to help you establish the following:

  1. Your target audience.
  2. Your message.
  3. The “cast.”
  4. The interview content.
  5. The shooting locations.
  6. The cinematic covering footage.

Of course, Lydia is always here to walk you through the guide in detail should you have any trouble. She’ll also collaborate with you to establish the production schedule.  🙋🏼‍♀️

How many people should be interviewed for my video?

The most effective modern marketing videos are brief and the most effective way to limit the final length of the video is to also limit the number of people interviewed. Our rule of thumb for deciding on how many people to include is to figure on one minute of final screen time for each person interviewed. That means if we’re making a 2-3 minute video we’ll aim to limit the number of interviews to 3 people or less.

What if others on my team want to add interviews?

The people already “cast” in pre-production are the people we’ve thoughtfully identified to tell the story best and in the most economical amount of screen time. However, we know sometimes additional interviews may be suggested on the day of the shoot. We’re happy to accommodate these if it helps our client manage the project, but with the understanding that this additional content might not make the final edit. It’s a hard reality for all of us, but we can only include a few people per video given our limited screen time. Also- Any project scope changes occurring on the day of the shoot due to last minute revisions to the production plan or any other circumstances beyond our control will result in an overage charge at the rate of $300/hour.

How long will each interview take to film?

We recommend planning on about 20-minutes on shoot day to film each interview. Depending on the subject matter and content, most interviews don’t take longer than 30-minutes to film. In fact, many don’t take nearly that long, but we always prefer to spend a few minutes waiting between interviews or tweaking our lighting setup than to be rushed or to make people wait on us unnecessarily. That said, we’re making art, so setting the expectation that we may not run precisely on time is prudent! In some unique circumstances, interviews may take longer than 30-minutes to film, but typically we all understand this before they are scheduled.

Will you send the interview questions to the interviewees ahead of time?

No. We are generally not in the practice of sending written questions ahead of time. Naturally, if an interviewee has questions ahead of time, they will plan their answers, write them down, and maybe even attempt to memorize them, which turns the interview into a performance instead of an authentic conversation. The magic of film editing relieves those appearing on camera of the need to perform perfectly. No scripts, no storyboards, no pain!

What makes the best location for a video shoot?

We’re committed to producing the highest-quality, best looking and sounding audio and video we possibly can. We’ve invested in the very best tools to create our work. Our kit includes tripods, light stands, multiple cameras, a dozen lenses, microphones, mic stands, light fixtures, cabling, not to mention our typical two-person crew! The spaces we like best are large, relatively quiet, controllable in terms of foot traffic, and, importantly, help to tell our story visually in some way. We also need to have some idea of what this location looks like before we arrive. Please take a moment to snap a few cell phone pics and send them to us. We love getting these photos more than we love ice cream. And we really love ice cream.

Why don't you charge by the hour?

You can’t rush greatness! Quality work requires us to be thoughtful and to be thoughtful takes time. Planning on a half-day or full-day shoot up front ensures we will have plenty of time to get everything just right.

When should I tell people to be ready to start filming?

Once the perfect location is chosen, we need space and time to set and light our scene. This means we need the space for about 30 to 45 minutes and we need to limit the number of people on set with us to only those who are absolutely necessary. Don’t be offended if we’re less social than usual. We’re doing some sciencey math in our heads and it can be a lot! We will summon interviewees and other participants when we’re ready. It helps a lot to plan a separate room or area for people to wait in.

What should I tell people to wear on camera?

Our work is entirely about authenticity so, simply put, we want people to be themselves on camera. The best clothing to wear for a filmed interview is simple, solid, muted earth tones. Avoid bright colors, pastels, and tight, detailed patterns. They don’t reproduce well on video. We have a special affinity for blues. If you wear blue we’ll be fast friends.

When will my videos be ready to review?

You can expect to receive the first edit(s) of your video(s) via a private online review gallery within 4 weeks of the day we finish shooting. Two complimentary rounds of revisions are included at no additional charge.

Can you send us all the raw footage, too?

In short, yes, but it’s more complicated than it seems because of the way we shoot. The cinema cameras we use are designed to digitally capture the most dynamic range possible from total black to total white. This way we retain maximum flexibility over the color and quality of the image in post-production. What this means is that the video footage straight out of camera is not useable without professional color-grading. We offer two options:

  1. Include a line item in the budget for color-correction, grading, and delivery of all raw footage so that we can make sure the footage meets our quality standards when you use it.
  2. Simply reach out to us with the list of additional deliverables you’d like from the footage when you want them. We’ll scope that work and put it in our pipeline. We archive every frame we shoot for a minimum of two years and arrangements can be made to archive it longer or indefinitely if you’d like.

To see the difference between ungraded log footage (straight out of camera) and graded footage (from our laboratory) watch this clip.

Do you create and deliver vertical video?

Yes, absolutely! If vertical video is important to your marketing efforts we would simply include it in the project scope and list of deliverables. Results are much better when we know it’s important before we shoot. Making great horizontal video that’s already been shot into great vertical video is challenging at times and doesn’t always work well. This is a detail we recommend covering in pre-production and one of the reasons it’s so important to consider how you plan to show your video(s) to your target audience.