Research Matters: Production/Fixing Services in 2019

Today I’m writing about research phase in video productions, especially for commercial and corporate.

Traditionally, filmmaking can be divided into three steps: Pre-Production, Production, Post Production. Yeap, it’s basic but pretty important to know about this process. It’s a blue print of all productions regardless of any video genre. My questions is: In which phase are we paid? An answer is absolutely “all phases.” Needless to say, production and post production are paid phases representatively, but also pre-production like location and logistics will be paid.

All clients are ready to pay for those three steps. There is an unpaid process, however, if we divide filmmaking into five steps.

1. Research
2. Pre-Production
3. Production
4. Post Production (Editing)
5. Distribution (Promotion/Exhibition)

The unpaid phase is the research, unfortunately.

What is the research? Simply, it is the process to make the entire production technically and financially feasible. For example, you cannot assume that your favorite star is in your final film if you are making a low budget film (and you are a total beginner). If you are starting your project in spring, and need to finish it by the end of summer in the same year, it will be problematic to put snowscape scene in your screenplay. You must make a blue print of possible solutions before starting actual pre-production.

In commercial and corporate video productions, research phase is also a proposal phase. Production companies come up with ideas and propose these to clients, seeking for approval and budget. However, unpaid process is unpaid after all, and production companies cannot assign good amount of resources to research. This fact suggests that not a few potential productions do not have sufficient evidence to make their ideas to the final video successfully. Production companies have to succeed their project, however.

DFS’s production services mainly target these production companies abroad. There are two kinds of projects as below.

1. Projects in pre-production (already budgeted)
2. Projects in research (not budgeted yet)

Both productions often have their own problems.

In No.1, their budget is often lower than necessary, due to inefficient research. As a result of unsuitable requirement for the budget, production quality is often low, or projects fail for the worst. Main cause of such difficulty is made by production personnels decision to hire inexperienced local fixers or PMs to save money. We often and often hear soundings like “please help, that didn’t work,” for example, before three days of the first shooting day.

In No.2, production companies in the proposal phase often beg for free information to us. To be worst, not a few companies try to make us do the research phase for free instead of them. If their proposals make a deal, we can get profit, can’t we? Therefore we tried to help these companies as possible as we could. Something goes wrong today, however.

It turned out that those companies whom we provide with valuable information (which includes necessary logistics of course) often hire other fixers/PM with cheapest pay, in the end. A trick is like this: A production company contacts multiple fixers/PMs like us in Japan for its potential project, which is before proposal to its client. The company asks information necessary for project success for free. The local fixers/PMs give it information and help research since they believe they’ll get a job if the project is approved. In other words, the more potential fixers/PMs the company contacts, the much information the company will get for free. After the production company gets enough information, it goes to the cheapest fixer/PMs with the information we provided with. it is not fair, isn’t it? Unfortunately, those companies are rude enough and they often stop respond after they got enough information from us. This is not acceptable.

From 2019, we newly start Research service for companies with projects in research/proposal phase. The difference from the traditional fixing/production services is below.

1. Projects in pre-production phase (already budgeted) - Fixing/Production or/and Location services
2. Projects in research phase (not budgeted yet) - Research service

We set Research rates very reasonable with some conditions. Please refer to the new service page for your project’s success and client’s ultimate satisfaction.