Production Q&A With Marteen Cleary

Production is a huge component to Epic’s recruiting strategy. Capturing original photos and videos helps promote your department and all it has to offer while also building your individual brand. I sat down with Marteen Cleary, the lead producer at Epic, to learn about the production process and how to create professional high quality content. Epic creates sworn recruiting videos, content for social media and professional still photography. When all of the production content comes together it helps attract new hires to your department.

Q: Do you have to secure permits and location permission before filming?


It depends on where we want to film. We’re not only showcasing the agency, we use the area they specifically live in or work in, but also like the surrounding areas as well to help show what the police department has to offer outside of just what the agency. A lot of times we like to film those kinds of the more iconic places that the state or city has to offer. So there are some state parks we need permits for depending on the city. There are some other public places like in the middle of the street, luckily you know, we work with cops and so most of the time when you’re getting a permit you have to hire cops. So we already have a hand up and that we are already working with the cops

Q: How long does the production process take?


I get involved usually around the discovery process. So from when we go out to meet the client for the first time in person and get to interview all those people. I’d say it always depends on the client and how fast they want to move and their availability. I’d say the process from pre production to production is usually a month or two. We spend three days concurrently on location, and they’re really long days. You know, we usually start at like five or six in the morning to get sunrise shots and then after a little bit of daybreak, we usually go until 10 o’clock at night. So they’re really, really long days. We get a lot done and try to always use the best light. So we try to schedule and organize everything to get the most beautiful shots. Shooting when the sun is directly overhead is never good, so during the day we do some inside shots. It’s a very long day but they are rewarding.

Q: What is the best process to make sure the department gets everything set up?


Like I said, this relationship is the most important part of the process of making sure that the shoot is successful. You know, we’re only out there for two or three days. So if things aren’t set up, or there’s gaps in time, or people are just sitting around because something fell through, that’s all time wasted where we could have been getting footage. The process before we get there is important. Making sure people know their schedule and where they need to be and when. It’s important we know what permits we have and where we are going before we get there because we have such little time. It’s also important to double check to make sure things are confirmed and that they’re ready for us. Just being in constant contact with locations and people within the department is really what makes it successful.

Q: Is there a committee of people or just one person from the department that has final say?


I’d say generally, we work with a recruitment team or leadership team with one person being our point of contact. Also, that person usually is on set with us every day all day. I’d say that it’s generally a team of people, but there’s always one person that’s like our main contact that kind of follows us all the way through the project. 

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Q: Are you taking photos and videos at the same time?


Yes, so sometimes we split up to do photos and videos at different times and sometimes it’s at the same time. We will send some of the team to take photos and we’ll send some to do video but we always make time for both. It’s really important for social media and for creating our recruiting website to get both photos and video.

Q: How do you decide who you will be filming?


Part of the process we use is called discovery day or the discovery process. During that process we will meet with the department and their executive team or leadership team, or the people that are involved in recruitment. We speak with anyone who wants to have a say in how the process is going to go. So we meet with them and the same day we meet different types of people within the department. We like to meet with a diverse set of people, you know, people new in their career, people who are about to retire, someone who’s been a lateral, women, men, different backgrounds, people who have changed careers, so that we can get like a really good picture of the different kinds of people that work in that department. We work closely with the client and whoever contacted us to pick all these different kinds of people. Then we interview probably 20 to 40 people while we’re out for discovery day. Based on those interviews, we decide not only who we want to focus on, but the creative direction of the project as well. So talking to as many people as we can is really the key point of our discovery days.

Q: How do you choose locations?


We’re trying to show off the beauty of the area that they live in and the surrounding area. There are certain scenes where we try to find beautiful areas to showcase along with the specialties of the officers that we are trying to film there. Apart from that, we look for how a certain area or location looks during sunrise or sunset and where the lights are going to hit or reflect. Also we think about the environment and if it’s  going to be busy or loud. Those are all things that we need to keep in mind when we’re looking for locations. We also have to consider different locations for SWAT or crime scenes as we try to make it look as dingy as possible, or super run down. I mean, that’s kind of what you would expect from a crime scene location or like a SWAT location.We mostly just want to consider what every location has to offer

Q: What type of filming equipment do you use and why?


We have a lot of equipment, like a lot, and we are always getting new equipment. I think one thing that’s really stood true with what we use is we’ve almost always used canon cameras. We’ve always upgraded as they have new stuff available, so right now we have the Canon C 300 Mark III, and we’re using two of those as our main cameras on set. Apart from that we have Canon C 70s. We have drones and we have 360 cameras. We also have GoPros and action cameras. I mean, we probably travel with like 20 bags of equipment. So there’s a lot of stuff that it takes to make the production. We have lighting, we have audio, we have stands to hold everything, and little gadgets and accessories. I mean there’s  really a lot of like investment behind the equipment that we’re using to make sure we get the best quality on set.

Q: Does the client have input on what and who you film and why?

Yes, definitely. So we work really closely with the client from the beginning. We try to tell them exactly what we’re looking for but they ultimately are helping us pick those people, they’re helping us pick the direction of the video. They’re looking to us to help them put the best and most unique content out there. I’d say, the best projects, the most successful projects are when we have a really great team or client contact who can help us get things done. 

Q: What can departments tell its staff to help them prepare for the filming days?


I think the biggest thing is to be flexible. You know, most people are early to show up for their specific scene, which is awesome, because on our end sometimes things take longer than expected or go by faster so to have people show up on time or a little early is extremely helpful. For when we are interviewing somebody on camera, I think it’s best to tell people to just be relaxed and 100% themselves. We are only asking you questions about yourself, your career, your past, what you’re doing and your ambitions or career opportunities. So it makes me feel better knowing that I’m just talking about what I already know about myself. So I think that’s what I like to tell people going into interviews.

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