1. How much will it cost, and what does that price include? A company should tell you its prices. Does it charge an hourly, day or flat rate, or packaged prices? When you find out, ask what’s included. Producing a video often requires three steps: preproduction (script writing, location scouting, logistical planning, hiring actors or voiceover talent, etc.), production (shooting) and postproduction (editing, adding graphics, animation, typography, etc.)

2. How long has the company been in business? Some have many years of experience, and others are just getting started. A young company may have newer technology and more efficient ways of producing projects, but a more seasoned one probably has more expertise and has worked with more clients. Both may bring certain qualifications to the table. Decide which you value more.

3. What’s the company’s area of expertise? Avoid those who say they do it all. While being a jack-of-all-trades isn’t impossible, mastering that is difficult. A commercial or corporate video shoot is very different from a wedding or family reunion shoot. Moreover, regulations when shooting on the premises of an oil and gas company are very different from those involving a school campus around children or a hospital around patients. Most reputable companies specialize in a specific area or industry. If they focus on an industry other than yours, make sure they are familiar with and can meet your needs.

4. How does the company’s production process work, and what’s your role? Several companies explain their process on their websites. Ask those that don’t how they’ll plan and produce your project. How long will it take from start to finish? Do they have a team that creates the concept or narrative, writes scripts and handles logistics, or are you, the customer, responsible for these tasks? In what video format will they deliver the finished product — DVD, electronically via MP4 or MOV files, etc.? Will they market and distribute the video?

5. What other projects has the company produced, and will it show you samples of its work? Ask the company to identify some past clients and its capacity to handle projects. Does its website display samples its video work? Ensure that it can capably perform the work you need.

6. What other projects is it working on? The answer is important because you must be sure that your needs will be met. If the company is doing a large-scale project that consumes time and resources, will it have time to focus on you? Can it handle several jobs simultaneously? Who will be your primary point of contact? Make sure a company is prepared to give your project the attention needed for success.