If you want a film produced, but aren't sure whether to DIY or HIRE A PROFESSIONAL, our Film Checklist will help you decide the best way to take action.

DIY Film Production. Is it the best choice for you?

If you've already decided to DIY using your smartphone...

Know that smartphones capture all kinds of remarkable and unremarkable things. They can be a great tool in certain situations, but as far as professional looking promos go, it can take lotsa work to make it not look like smartphone footage. Know that in-camera audio is poor and even the 4K hype can be misleading.

All this said, if you want to film using your smartphone please consider:

  • using a tripod (not a selfie stick) whilst filming
  • shooting in landscape mode
  • lining up your shots so they are relevant to your message
  • sourcing a quality editing program to ensure you get the best end result (alternatively, you could hire a professional to edit your footage)
  • colour grading
  • adding sound design to lift your audio.

Finally, remember that quality is far stronger than quantity when it comes to promoting your business online, so keep your content relevant and shareable. You can find more tips on our News page.


Consider the following checklist to determine if your project is more suited to DIY or Hiring a Pro.

1. What is the fundamental 'thing' you want to communicate?  (e.g., Product, Service or Message)

Take Action - DIY

Generally speaking, if it is a message directly to camera or an update of some kind to staff or existing customers, you might get away with using the DIY method mentioned above.

Take Action – Professional

If you want new customers, to show off a new product, or a stronger marketshare in any industry, the competition is much higher. We suggest taking professional action for at least part of your production in order to lift it to a new level.


2. What is the purpose of your video? (e.g., Inspire, Educate, Promote, Entertain)

Take Action - DIY

There are many tutorials on YouTube that have been recorded using average devices. Despite the quality, these have helped us learn and be inspired. In such cases, the DIY system works just fine. Also, a crazy dance move or party trick is perfectly at home in the smartphone camera folder.


If you plan on putting anything on a website with your name or business logo attached to it, then think twice about cutting corners. The quality of video online is only getting better and people are very quick to judge a business when they see ordinary footage attached to a service or product. When something is placed on the Internet, it is difficult to remove all traces of it. Therefore, if you are serious about quality, then it makes sense that your content is also displayed professionally.


3. What do you want to achieve?  (e.g.,  Awareness, Sales, Trust, Goodwill)


Awareness, Trust and Goodwill might fall under the DIY category, but it depends on the complexity and audience reach you are trying to achieve. For example, If you are at an event and you want to share something live, you might use Facebook Live to connect more emotionally in the moment. This can often translate into trust because you have decided to share something while it's happening. Just be aware that this kind of filming is not expected to generate any interest in the medium or long term, as it gets swallowed up by social media.


If you are after sales growth potential, trust and long term awareness, we highly recommend seeking professional advice and filming services.


4. What are the key features/benefits of the product/service/message you want to highlight? (e.g., Sleek Design, Graphics, User Friendliness, Professional Service)


This can be tricky with the DIY option; however, it can still be achieved with a bit of planning. For example, a sleek design element could be as simple as a really good photograph of your product with a voiceover and word overlays to demonstrate key features. Ideally you would like the image to zoom in or pan to the relevant points of interest.


If you want to review your product or service in detail and highlight key points, it takes more than a quick snapshot and voice recording to do it justice. Another, thing to consider is professional testimonials in various locations to build market trust.


5. Who is your target market? (e.g., Mothers aged 25-35 who live on the Gold Coast, Business Owners, The Aging Population)


Although there is an exception to every rule in video production, it is generally recognised that people who use Facebook, for example, tend to share or engage with different forms of video content, and with different demographics, compared to that of someone using a professional Linkedin account. There are many selfie-styled mummy entrepreneurs on Facebook that appear to be doing well in business; but, the competition has squeezed out many newcomers, and accruing heaps of Likes does not necessarily mean quit your day job. However, if you only plan to use Facebook to advertise, then DIY might be for you.


If you have done the research and want a professional to help you formulate a plan based on media experience, and connect with the right customers, take action with both hands. Take some of the guesswork out of deciding which kind of content works more efficiently than others in certain circles. Quite often this saves you money because precious time and second guessing the market could leave you with no return and a sub-quality advertising campaign.


6. What type of video do you need? (e.g.,  Promo video, Book Trailer, Music Video, Crowdfunding Video)


It is time to consider what are you promoting and what is the best way to connect with your audience. Do you need a promotional video, book trailer, music video, showreel, crowdfunding video, or do you have an idea for a documentary? Different creative elements go into producing each of these videos, so it is important determine your intent and purpose early on. Let's take a crowdfunding video as an example. There have been a lot of DIY success stories in this arena. However, a huge majority of them fail, even when their product is exceptional. It all comes down to your message, how it is executed, how many people you know, and if the people who are most attached to your cause have the emotional motivation to help your vision come to life. If you are a great storyteller who can engage on camera with nothing more than a motivational smile, and don't need other footage to show your cause, then maybe you can get away with the DIY method. Remember to follow up with video updates and keep it professional. After all, people are investing in you.


It is easy for people to follow trends in video marketing styles, and these same trends can easily look cheesy a month later. Having a professional content producer on your team can help you avoid the downward slide of yesterday's news and reposition you near the beginning of the bell curve. No matter how many fads come and go, having a relevant story and style attached to your product is the thing that will keep on giving, and hopefully attract more customers.  





7. Do you have a CONCEPT for your video? 


Before any footage is recorded, there is usually some kind of planning done. Creating concepts gives a greater sense of the overall vision. Are you considering a humorous angle or something more serious? Will you source actors and can you find the right locations? Ask your friends, colleagues and family what idea they think would work best in your situation. If you DIY, try not to make it too complicated, as you will not enjoy the process as much and you could end up with only half the job done. If this seems too overwhelming, feel free to contact us for an obligation free chat.


8. Do you have a SCRIPT for your video?


Aim to keep the script natural. Quite often scripts are very 'woody' when they are delivered. Depending on your purpose for the video shoot, try adlibbing your lines too. Sometimes this can produce the best results. Remember to keep audio at the highest possible quality and stay out of windy situations when recording. If this seems too overwhelming, feel free to contact us for an obligation free chat.


9. Do you know how much it will COST to produce the video you envisage?


Having a small budget does not necessarily mean your production will suck. There are some stellar productions that were made on a shoestring budget because the filmmakers used innovation where possible. For example, if you want to record your voice without echo or other notable sounds, try doing it in your clothes wardrobe. The soft clothing protects your voice from bouncing off hard surfaces. Try new things to get the most out of your budget. Be aware of legal issues when filming, such as in public and capturing artwork etc. You might have noticed that even art on the walls of private houses have been blurred out on television shows, for good reason. Quite often you will save money and time by hiring a professional to help you with your production. For larger budgets the costs might be greater in the quality of camera that is used, such as broadcast quality, the use of digital effects in the editing process, permits and actors. A good filmmaker will try and work around your budget by offering the best quality solutions. A $500 promotional video can still look very expensive to make. If this seems too overwhelming, feel free to contact us for an obligation free chat.


Are you still unsure how to take action?

Nobody said it was going to be easy; however, Gothic Zen Studios can certainly make things a bit clearer for you with an obligation free chat about your options. This 1/2 hour coffee or tea break is a free service we provide for our Gold Coast clients. If you are interstate or oversees, please connect with us via email or we can arrange a Skype call.