Episode 02: The In-House Filmmaker with Tom Flanagan

By Rudy Bachraty
June 25, 2012

Recently, for our first WellcomeMat Enterprise Partner video interview, we talked to Tom Flanagan from Residential Properties, the #1 Independent Real Estate brokerage in Rhode Island about a growing real estate video trend we’re seeing, The In-House Filmmaker.

As the popularity and consumer demand for real estate videos continues to grow, more and more real estate brands and brokerages are starting to hire in-house teams to handle their pre-production, production and post production video content needs. It makes perfect sense, especially for companies that see video as a core part of their business.

Today, those who understand the power of video and how today’s consumer is craving it, are making video a must have. This is quite different from years past when some thought of it as an I’d like to have.

So with that, let’s jump in and get the inside scoop from Tom:

1. Why did you decide to hire an in-house filmmaker/producer?
Alexis Lamster, VP of Customers at Postling, created an infographic that stated, “73% of homeowners say they’re more likely to list with a Realtor® offering to do video, yet only 12% of the real estate industry currently have YouTube accounts.”

Residential Properties Ltd. understands the importance of video and the unique role that it plays in marketing. Video has become so popular with our clients and agents that we decided to bring Phil Retamoza, who was our part-time videographer, on full-time to meet demand.

2. Will this bring down your cost per video productions costs?
To offset the cost of video production, we charge our sales associates a one-time fee for a video and property website. We package the property video tour with a dedicated property website, which features the embedded video. The property website also includes a custom domain name, which is a great marketing tool for our sales associates.

Our video product is one of the most popular services that we offer in-house at Residential Properties Ltd. and the package is competitively priced, comparable to any virtual tour or floor plan product on the market today.

3. Will you now start to create more videos? If so, what kinds are you focusing on?
Absolutely. We hope to double our property video tour production, which is our main focus. Also, Rhode Island is such beautiful little State. We want to produce community videos that really showcase our unique towns and neighborhoods. We plan to produce recruiting videos as well.

4. How did you find your filmmaker?
Phil Retamoza, our videorapher, was working for us part-time. He also attended the same university as I did, the New England Institute of Technology. Phil has an exceptional background in the field, having worked for local television news networks such as Fox 25, ABC 6 and NBC 10 as a video editor. In fact, at NBC 10, his editing of “Does Gender Matter,” a story that examined how boys and girls learn differently in school, earned him an Emmy nomination and an AP award!

5. Talk about how an in-house filmmaker can help streamline quality across the board as far as look and feel goes?
As a brokerage, we are working extremely hard to streamline our materials. This includes print, web and social media. Video is such a natural fit with these other mediums. We want the “look and feel” and the “voice” of our videos to represent our brand and a filmmaker plays a critical role in this process.

6. What kind of camera gear is your filmmaker using?
The brokers I chat with are always surprised at how affordable gear is to produce professional quality video today. At Residential Properties Ltd., we’ve really embraced shooting video with DSLR cameras. We have a couple of Canon 60D’s in the department that shoot beautiful video as well as still photography. We also utilize the Glidetrack SD, which really gives our videos a cinematic flair and we have a Manfrotto tripod and a lighting kit with umbrellas.

7. What kind of editing software are you using?
Our department is a Mac shop. Our primary editing software is Final Cut Express. However, we also utilize LiveType for creating lower thirds and titles, MPEG Streamclip for codec conversion and GarageBand for composing music.

8. Do you think having an in-house filmmaker is just a passing trend or do you see other brands following your lead in the future?
I believe that successful real estate brands are transitioning into media companies and the addition of video is a natural extension of content development. I perceive the hiring of an in-house filmmaker as a unique opportunity rather than a passing trend. With that said, I certainly do not expect every brokerage to bring a full-time videographer on staff. The decision to hire in-house versus outsourcing really depends on the organizations resources and P and L structure. However, there’s no doubt that video is wildly popular with consumers and the medium is in its infancy in the real estate industry.

Jose Castillo, staff writer for OnlineVideo.net, stated in Zappos Stays a Step Ahead with Online Sales Videos, “that 170 million Americans (over half the population) will watch product videos in 2012. While percentages vary, sites have found that customers are up to 64 percent more likely to buy after watching a product video."

Now, I understand that homes are not sneakers or shoes and consumers do not directly purchase real estate online. However, real estate professionals are certainly embracing video and I believe that it will become the cornerstone of their marketing strategy.

Really great insight Tom! I totally agree. With the vast array of tools and technology out there today, the opportunity for a real estate brand, team or agent to become a media company that pushes out great hyperlocal consumer friendly real estate related content is just a few f-stops away.

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