Healthcare Video Production Tips from a 20 Year Pro

Matt Brannon / February 21, 2017 / Healthcare Marketing

Matt Dufilho Headshot.jpgWe recently had the chance to sit down talk to Matt Dufilho about some of his processes for video production. Matt is currently the director of media production for a 300 bed hospital. He is responsible for video content that includes broadcast TV commercials, staff training videos, and videos for online deployment on social media and websites. Matt is a mulit-ADDY award winning producer and director specializing video for the healthcare industry.

Below is a transcript from our interview with Matt.

Gravity Digital: We have been discussing healthcare video pre-production recently, but we know that you have a completely different perspective on pre-production from your side. You have so many more technical considerations, so many more people that you're dealing with, and I'd love it if you could talk a little bit about what your process looks like. 

Matt Dufilho: Sure, and you're right, it does start to get very technical as you start getting down the line in your pre-production process. But really, for me, pre-production starts with the first discussion with the department that I'm working with for the project. The department will typically say, "We want a video for XYZ." The first question I ask is, "Who is our audience? Who are we talking to? Is this for physicians? Is this for patients? Is this for everybody? Does this need to work for everything?" The answer to these questions will tailor what we're going to say, things we won't say, things we will say. I really try to nail down who we’re talking to, what we’re trying to say, and the main things we're trying to get across to the audience. That's a great way to start, because it will get your head in the right place as you're looking forward. I use this information as the guide, because I consider myself to be in charge of the project from there on out; and it's my job to make sure we accomplish the things that we said in that first meeting. Once we get into the project and more cooks start getting in the kitchen, and people are asking for xyz, it's nice to go back to that and say, "Okay, now remember, we said when we started this we were talking to these people and we were saying this.” I know that sounds like something very basic to start with, but for me, when you start working with more departments and more people, you've got to have that to go back to. So that's my key thing for pre-production. And then really every project is so different. Going down the road deeper than that, gets very, very technical. But for me, that is the essence of pre-production. And if I don't get that set first, I'm a little bit lost. Pre-production for me, is really setting our goal and figuring out where we're going.

Gravity Digital: That fits right in line with what we've been talking about, creating buyer personas and user stories. So, once you’ve completed your pre-production planning, how many people do you need to produce a video?

[Transcript continued below]

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Matt Dufilho: Okay, well I can say from long experience, you need one. That's how I did a lot of my work for the longest time. I was a one-man-band. Even working in a full hospital environment, it was just me for a while. And that's the thing, whether you're in a small environment or a large environment, you've got to start somewhere. And a lot of times when people are getting started, they ask the same question, "Well, how many people do we need? We need to pull a bunch of people in." And really you just need one person who's willing to learn, and willing to find things out. Getting more people is very nice, but especially today as democratized as video production is getting, a single person can do a lot more than they used to be able to do. It's nice to have volunteers too. You can always find a couple of people to come along and help out, but really you just need one person. It's a lot easier than people might think to do a lot of production.

Gravity Digital: That's great. I've seen you work, and I've seen you be that one man band. I’d like to move on to one of the things that impresses me about you when you work. In this industry, a lot of times we're not hiring professional actors or people who are very comfortable in front of a camera. You have a great way of working with people who aren't used to it, non-professional talent. You have a way of drawing out their expertise, making them feel comfortable, and producing a great product that I don't feel that everyone would be able to achieve. So if you could find some ways to verbalize how you do that, I think it would help some people out.

Matt Dufilho: Well, this is what I really consider my bread and butter, because working with non-professional talent, just every day normal people like us, that you're going to put on camera, is really what I've been doing for the longest amount of time. I've worked with professional talent, but I really like working with non-professional talent. The first thing you have to recognize is the challenge of it. The challenge is really that these are people who have either never been on camera or maybe they even don't want to be and they just have to. Or at the most, they've done it every once in a while, or they've done it maybe one, or two times, or something like that. It's definitely not something they do a lot. But what you have to see on the flip side of that is the opportunity for this. Because if you were doing a narrative piece, if there's a reason you are putting a non-professional speaker on camera, there's a reason. And it's usually because they're an expert in whatever you're talking to them about, whether it's a patient with a story, they're an expert in that story, or if it's a doctor or a nurse who's talking about an experience, or a process, or a piece of equipment. Whatever it is, they have the knowledge, and that's the opportunity, because they're really experts. They're not pretending, they really are the experts, and that's the opportunity to mine there. And the way I go about it is, number one, I try to put them at ease. I sit them down, we don't sit in the lights, we sit next to them. And depending on how different people shoot, it changes, but most of the time, I shoot from a documentary standpoint. Which means people aren't talking to the camera. I can tell them, "Don't worry, you're not going to have to look at this ridiculous camera. You're going to talk to me." And they immediately say, "Okay." I'll also say, "I shoot a lot of footage on top of this so you're going to be covered up a lot. You don't have to carry this whole video." And they say, "Oh, well that makes me feel better." So, they're not going to have to stare at a camera. They know they're not going to be on camera the entire time, and then the last thing I'll tell them is that part of my job is taking what they say and cutting it up into little pieces. And I even tell them, "We're going to just do this a little bit at a time." We're going to talk about this. I'm not going to pepper you with questions. I'm going to just generally ask you about this subject. When you run out of something to talk about, we'll talk about something else. And by the time we've had that conversation, people are pretty comfortable, but then I do one more thing on top of that. I've made them comfortable, let them know what they don't have to be scared about. But the last thing I do is I really try to get them as excited as I can about what we're going to do. I really try to give them a sense of ownership with it. We're talking about this piece of equipment because we're going to make a video that's going to go out on social media, and it's really going to educate people who haven't seen it before. And I'll give them a sense of who's going to be watching. I'll say, "You can be really generic, because this is for just your average Joe who doesn't know much about this topic." And they, "Oh okay." Give them a sense of focus, of who they're talking to, and what this is about, and really bring them in and let them know what this is going to do. And by the time you get done having that conversation, that person is at least relatively relaxed. They know what to expect, and now they feel like they are a part of this production a little bit. And if you start from there, you're going to get the best performance from someone like that. So that's my general process of taking somebody from beginning to end as far as non-professional talent goes.

Gravity Digital: Well, that's good insight, Matt. So one thing I picked up on a few times there, you talked about looking at the camera, and I've realized we haven't addressed gear at this point. So now before we jump into that, let me say, I'm sure someone who's been doing this for a while, and is maybe working somewhere where there's a department devoted to doing this kind of thing, might have budget for gear, and may already have gear. But let's talk about what's necessary to produce a good high quality video. And understanding that a lot of folks are now walking around with iPhones in their pockets, and how does that come into play? If you would, talk a little bit about the gear that's necessary.

Matt Dufilho: Right, that's exactly what I was about to do, I was about to hold my phone up and say, "There you go right there." Now it is true, you could do a lot more with this than you used to be able to. And in general, because we could talk about gear and we could go very deep down that rabbit hole, but what I would say in general is that you don't healthcare video - go digitalneed as much as you think. But there are some key things to make your video more professional. The first thing is not so much the gear, it's just pick something. A lot of people sit there and they worry so much about what kind of camera they're going to get. What I would say is, try to use something, whether it's your phone or a camera that you have, that you can borrow from a department or something, but digital is what we want to stick with. The days of us using tape are dead and gone. If somebody brings you something with a tape, any kind of tape in it, you move onto the next thing, use your phone. The next thing to move to is lighting. Now, we could go really deep down this rabbit hole as well, but in general we're looking for ambient, general, and soft lighting. And what I would say to that is, often times office environments can provide a decent amount of that. I do a lot of shooting in corporate environments. Just be wary of where you're standing. Don't put healthcare video flourescent lightingsomeone directly under that fluorescent light that gives them that horror show downlighting with the big nose shadow, and the big eye shadows. Move them back and away from it. So it gives full lighting to their face. You don't have to go buy a bunch of lighting, just be mindful of where you are. Find an office that's got a lot of natural light, and put it off to the side with big curtains in front of it, it will give you great light. The last thing though, the kicker, is audio. Bad audio will ruin a good video. Audio makes up about, I think the last study I read was 75% or 80%, of our viewing experience. You have a good video, a good looking video with bad audio, you'd much rather have a bad looking video with good audio. And there are lots of ways to tackle that. You can buy very small recorders. You could set a phone to record and place it very near them. The idea is just we have to get something, whether it's a lapel mic that's hooked up to a little mini recorder you could buy for $80 or $100, or a big microphone setup that hangs in. However you do it, there's so many ways to record it, and that would be a whole other talk. But record good audio and then you can always, in post production, put those together: a couple of tutorial videos and you're off to the races. So digital camera, look for good lighting and audio are the holy trinity there, I guess.

Gravity Digital: That's awesome. Thanks, Matt. Well, if somebody wants to dive into this and give it a shot, are there any resources you can recommend to help educate themselves?

Matt Dufilho: We could go down another rabbit hole here, but a couple of resources that I found useful over the years… and these are free plugs… but there's a site called They have training for production, post-production and motion graphic training. But they have a slew of other things as well. But it's $25 a month, and it's full access to every bit of training they have. And I've gone yearly to post-production conferences, week-long post-production conferences, and the people teaching those are teaching Lynda courses. I've gone to Lynda courses, and I've said, "Oh, this is that three-hour course I took at that conference." And they're great, great courses. And you can get in there, and search it. They have annotations and transcripts, you can follow along. I mean it's really, really high class stuff and not very expensive at all. So that's for training and then you can go online, YouTube. Go on YouTube and type what you're looking for video production wise, and you'll find a ton of stuff out there. But when you are ready to start getting some gear, everybody's going to get to the point where they need to buy something. I've spent years going, and bidding, and looking, and searching out different places. B&H, out of New York, I've never could beat their prices and I've just stopped trying. I spent a couple years looking and then stopped trying. It was just pointless, I saved myself money. They link up really nicely with corporate environments. You can do POs and they work great. So, yeah, for training and B&H Photo for getting gear. That'd be my two main resources to start looking at.

Gravity Digital: Well Matt, I guess we'll wrap it up there. We really appreciate you joining us, and that was a gold mine of information there and I hope people appreciate the 15, 20 years of knowledge you just imparted to them. So, we really appreciate it, and thanks a lot for joining us.

Matt Dufilho: Absolutely, my pleasure.

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About the Author Matt Brannon

Matt graduated from Baylor University in 2003 and married his college sweetheart Ginny. They moved to Austin and Matt began working for Governor Rick Perry, first as an Advance Man and then later as the Governor’s Executive Aide. In 2007, Matt and Ginny moved to Los Angeles where Matt worked in public relations for an independent film (and Toronto Film Fest winner), “Bella”. His primary role was implementing grassroots efforts on a new online network called “Facebook”. After the promotion of Bella came to an end, Matt worked various jobs in entertainment and also spent 5 years working at Cedars-Sinai hospital. in 2013, Matt and Ginny moved back to their home state of Texas and joined the team at Gravity Digital. Matt’s distinctive value for his clients is his ability to bring out-of-the-box ideas and solve problems creatively.

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