Dental practice videographer Jeremy Tuber shares his expertise on the logistics of filming a promotional video
You have decided to have a promotional video filmed for your practice. Great, right? Well, often the communication and coordination responsibilities of putting the video shoot together fall directly onto the front office staff. Maybe that’s the position you find yourself and your team in, and you’re not certain how to manage it all.
If you’ve not worked with a video production professional or company before, it can be a little nebulous and perhaps even a little intimidating. However, with a little insider information, you can make the process easy for your team, other dentist(s), and any patients you might have come in and participate.
Covering all aspects of working with a video crew is beyond the scope of this condensed article. However, one of the first questions the front office staff has is, “Who should we include in the video?” The answer isn’t as obvious as you might expect. The answer is, “Whomever you select, choose wisely.”
If you have team members who are beyond just being a little camera shy — they’re either terrified or ticked off about being on camera, so don’t force them. Adept videographers can do a lot to make people look and sound their best. However, there’s very little they can do to hide if someone is self-conscious or annoyed about being on camera. Choose team members who genuinely want to represent the practice in the video. If you have a larger office, it might not be necessary to include everyone in the video. In fact, trying to ensure that everyone gets into the video might be counterproductive and time-consuming.
An additional question routinely asked is, “What happens if we had a video filmed, but one or more dental team members are no longer with the practice?” It depends on their role in the video. For dental team members who are just featured in some of the non-speaking/action footage part of the video, (also called “bRoll” by video professionals), it’s not a big deal. However, if you had the team members being interviewed on camera, you might need or want to remove them if they leave the practice. Therefore, be wary about asking the dental team to speak on camera. Most dental practices typically just have the dentist(s) speaking on camera — on a rare occasion a long-time office manager.
Patients or “patient stand-ins”
If you’re interested in having actual patients come in and help out with the video (either providing a video testimonial or just being in some of the bRoll), choose wisely.
Choose patients who are comfortable on camera, who love your practice, and who have the time to come in for an hour or so and participate. If you’re asking patients to provide a video testimonial, it may feel like an unnecessary step, but consider initially asking them, “What do you enjoy about the practice? What might you share about this practice on camera?” Your goal in asking them these questions is to learn ahead of time what they’ll say on camera and to get them to start thinking about what they’ll say.
All too often, well-intentioned patients blurt things out on camera like, “I love this practice because they are so cheap,” or “Dr. Smith is great because I can call him on his mobile phone over the weekend, and he responds!” Yikes, both statements might be true, but they should be kept on the DL and not included in the final edit of the video. Of course, statements like this can be easily edited out, but you want to ensure you don’t invest time in having a patient provide a testimonial that is bland, flat, or even one you can’t use.
Gently suggest to patients offering a testimonial that they do a little thinking about what they’ll say before the cameras start rolling — maybe even practice what they’ll say in front of a mirror or a friend/family member just a little bit. Patients, dentists, and just about everyone who haven’t been on camera sometimes assume that they can just “wing it.” And in truth, some can. However, for most of us, doing a little preparation and visualizing what we’re going to say ahead of time will help tremendously.
You don’t need to give patients the third degree about what they’ll say on camera — let it come from their heart, but guiding them a little and helping to clarify what they’ll say might make a mediocre video testimonial a great one. Just asking them ahead of time, “What do you think you’ll share/say?” is enough to get them to do a little thinking before they get on camera, and that often results in a better testimonial.
If you do ask patients to appear on camera, ask them to sign a media release form. Yes, every patient who appears on camera should sign one of these forms. Your video professionals should provide you with one to hand out. If they don’t, ask for one. More important, provide these to patients before the day of the shoot so they have time to review, sign, and then return them via email. Having patients sign one of these forms right before they jump in front of a camera just adds a layer of stress, so it’s best to have them sign the form before the day of the shoot.
It’s important to note that if you don’t acquire signed media releases, anyone who is not an employee of the practice could potentially change their mind about being in the video long after it’s been uploaded and on your website. They can request that you remove them from the video, which means you’ll need to contact the video professionals and pay to have the video edited to delete the person who no longer wants to be in the video. Having non-employees sign a release form can help guard against this, so it’s worth the bother.
As a last note about who is and isn’t in your video, many practices don’t recruit actual patients to come in. Instead, they opt for friends and family members to pose as patients while bRoll footage is filmed. (No, they don’t ask friends and family members to provide fake patient testimonials.) Friends and family members usually are more willing to help, and they don’t often require any compensation! Nevertheless, it might be nice to provide anyone outside of the dental team with a gift card, free whitening, or some small token of appreciation for taking time out of their day to help you.
Bonus Tip: Consider bringing in a veggie/fruit plate or some doughnuts for people to nosh on while they are not on camera.
Being prepared on the day of filming
It usually takes a film crew about an hour or so to set up, so if you’re filming first thing in the morning, perhaps plan on having at least one person arrive an hour early to let the crew move their gear in and set up. Note: Expect the video crew to need 20-40 minutes to pack up their gear after the shoot has wrapped up.
Video crews typically have a lot of gear, so they must find a safe out-of-the-way place in the practice to store it. Before the video crew arrives, consider a lower-traffic area of the office where they could store their gear. Make certain there isn’t any printed/digital sensitive information (or valuables) laying about.
It might be tempting to squeeze a few patients in, perhaps schedule a patient or two, during the shoot, but it’s not recommended. You won’t be able to give your full attention to your patients or to your video crew, so outside of an emergency patient, avoid scheduling production during the video shoot.
If you are conducting interviews (often called “aRoll”) or patient testimonials, make sure you can mute the phone, background music, or anything else that might interfere with the audio recording. You might even consider making sure local landscapers aren’t working during the time of your video shoot. (Yes, this has happened to other practices.)
To make the best use of everyone’s time, ask the video crew to provide you with a schedule for the day. Ask them when you, the team, the doctor(s), and perhaps the patients need to be available. Review the schedule for the day, and make sure there aren’t large time windows when people are standing around doing nothing. Gently remind the video crew that you want to be respectful of everyone’s time, which means getting them in and out as efficiently as possible.
Make certain that everyone who is going to be on camera is aware of (and has agreed to) their start time and finish time. Nothing derails a video shoot more than someone showing up late, announcing they suddenly must leave early, or someone just not showing up at all. Ensuring everyone shows up on time is like oral care: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so consider sending out gentle reminders a few days before as well as the day before the shoot so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities.
In working with a video crew, it’s important to recognize that they don’t know the details of your profession — most don’t “get” dental. To be fair, you might be unfamiliar with the video profession as well, so it’s important that you respect one another’s expertise, you communicate (even over communicate) so that everyone’s on the same page, and that you politely ask questions or raise concerns if they arise.
At the very least, consider at least one “pre-production” phone, Zoom, or in-person meeting so you can discuss your vision, logistics, etc. If it’s possible, ask if the video crew would be open to visiting the office before the day of filming to “scout” the location. The truth is, something always goes sideways during a video shoot, and that’s okay. An accomplished video crew will easily be able to manage any hiccups in the process. However, having discussed a plan of attack for the day before you begin filming will go a long way in reducing the likelihood that something will go sideways on you. Most offices have a morning huddle before the day begins — consider applying the same approach to having a video filmed for your practice.
In the end, the video crew and the dental team should have the same goal: to film a compelling promotional and/or educational video for the practice. Communicate, be honest (be open when you’re confused or need advice), and work together.
Reprinted with permission by Inscriptions, a publication of the Arizona Dental Association.
Jeremy Tuber has served as the Arizona Dental Association’s Director of Marketing and Managing Editor since 2010. In 2014, he opened DDSvideo.com and has filmed more dental practice marketing videos in Arizona than anyone else in the state. He has filmed for Dentsply Sirona, ATSU/ASDOH, Diversity in Dentistry, AzDA, and is slated to film a PSA for the ADA in February 2023.
Besides dental promotional videos, Dr. Kyle Fagala writes about how to use seven other methods to market your practice. Read about it in our sister publication, Orthodontic Practice US here: https://orthopracticeus.com/7-marketing-musts-for-orthodontists-in-2023/