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How to Approach Shooting Bar and Restaurant Promo Videos

Jourdan Aldredge

In this short guide, we round up some advice for filmmakers and videographers shooting promotional videos for restaurants and bars.

In the professional video world, clients come in all shapes and sizes. Traditionally, bars and restaurants have not used video much in their marketing efforts — unless they’re at the chain level, or for the occasional TV spot. However, with the rise of affordable videography, and the need to use video content as part of grassroots advertising and social marketing measures, video is suddenly making sense for many bar and restaurant owners.

Let’s look at some tips on how to approach these potential clients and how to start shooting strong promotional video content to help them grow their online brands.


Get the Most out of the Investment

Image via wong yu liang.

If you’re going to approach bars and restaurants to shoot promo videos, you need to talk in terms of investment and returns. What is the ROI on paying you to shoot these videos, and how does that add money to their pockets? You’ll want to quickly show them all the ways video will help maximize their investment.

Typically, bars and restaurants can use video in more ways than most owners realize. It might take some creativity on your part to capture all the necessary elements and create some targeted edits, but here are a few ways video can help restaurants and bars:

  • Website landing page video: add flash to their website with a ready-loaded video showcasing their establishment.
  • Yelp videos: a short video on a professional Yelp page can be more powerful than any user-generated content.
  • Social Media videos/campaigns: these days, social media channels like Facebook and Instagram are some of the biggest drivers of small local business. Having a smart sizzle reel to go along with their targeted marketing efforts can be a huge boost.
  • Stylized photos: while not a necessity, if you’re a videographer that also knows a thing or two about photography (and has a good two-way camera), adding 20-30 stylized photos to your deliverable package can go along way toward landing a good contract.

Maximize Your Production Day

How to Approach Shooting Bar and Restaurant Promo Videos — Maximize Production

Image via Alexei Zatevakhin.

Once you have your client onboard, you’ll want to set up a tight shooting day. Unless your bar or restaurant opens early, they usually operate on an afternoon-to-evening schedule. In my experience, I’ve always found that roughly a noon-to-midnight day is usually what I need for all elements of production. If you can get in before they officially open (but have still cleaned from the night before), you can get a lot of your stylized food and drink shots before they’re too busy. You can carefully lay out table elements to showcase some of their best dishes.

From there, as the establishment opens and customers begin to slowly trickle in, I’d recommend moving to recording patrons enjoying the food, drinks, and establishment for a few hours. As the evening goes on, I’d recommend moving more to the wings to stay out of the way during peak business hours — but be sure to get the majority of your wide and establishing footage when the establishment is in full swing to capture the most life.


Consider Adding Talent

How to Approach Shooting Bar and Restaurant Promo Videos — Adding Talent

Image via S_Photo.

When shooting people, sometimes it’s best to go with talent. While you can certainly hire professional actors, you could also just bring in coachable friends of the establishment — or your own. Very often, these people will be happy to model eating and drinking if it’s free.

You can take your talent through a shot list of wides, mediums, and close-ups of them enjoying the food and the atmosphere. You can also get them to set your shots by repeating bites and sips under your direction while you tinker with lighting and camera settings.


Make Your Workflow Repeatable

How to Approach Shooting Bar and Restaurant Promo Videos — Repeatable Workflow

Image via ImageBySutipond.

Finally, if you’re looking to make this a steady production stream and a reliable source of income, once you’ve worked with one client, you can shop your services around to the next. If you’re confident in the prospects of making a steady job out of this, you can always do your first client for free or for bartered services — i.e. free food and drink over a set period of time, or up to a price point. You can create a case-study of your first client and show how your video efforts improved marketing and promotion, and even increased overall revenue. 


Cover image by lapandr.

For more advice, tips and tricks for finding success in the film and video world, check out some of these articles below.

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