Film is a medium that everyone can relate to. Film can be captivating, challenging, engaging, or simply relaxing. It’s up to the filmmaker to navigate the story and anyone with a story to tell can benefit from the use of film. As a marketer or entrepreneur it’s important to recognize the use of film and the advantages it brings in selling you or your product or service.
Who to Film
Some stories will hold up better on film than others. If a company has a strong visual element, this is something that will translate well on film. Examples of businesses with filmic features might include:
- Fashion designers
- Interior designers
- Architectural firms
- Antique stores
Additionally, if a place of business has something physically eye-catching, like a unique facade or other architectural features, this is great to incorporate into film. Anything different or intriguing can be successfully branded by film making.
The Slice Media Process: Brand Films and Mini-Documentaries
To make a successful, communicative film, it needs charisma. What you don’t want is a film that ends up feeling perfunctory, like so many company intro and safety videos do. My company, Slice Media, makes mini-documentaries and “brand films” for our clients.
The brand film process goes like this: We go into a client’s place of business and document who they are and what they do by observing them, taking notes, and picking out story arcs. Next, we go in and interview the key player (CEO, Founder, CMO, etc.), and then we film the person in action. This process gives the audience an honest look into the company by using the place of business as our set.
The latest brand film we’ve done is for Mizzen+Main, a young and budding fashion brand. We filmed interviews with the founders, CEO, and CMO while on the set of a photo and video shoot we coordinated for them. The finished product is a two-minute video that sums up the day of the shoot and the brand characteristics of Mizzen+Main. Because of where it was filmed, there are amazing visuals that frame the brand video. Now Mizzen+Main has a concise and entertaining film to pitch their product.
Our other brand of unscripted advertising is what we like to call mini-documentaries. These are different from the brand films in that it doesn’t focus directly on a company’s products or business model, but rather on a person who uses its products. For Mizzen+Main’s mini-documentary, we’ll be filming Rich Froning, the 2011 and 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Champion, as he goes about his day in Cookeville, Tenn. We will also interview him so he can talk about his life story and reveal how Mizzen+Main fits into his lifestyle. Because this is still a product piece for Mizzen+Main, we will subtly include some branding by filming a few shots of Rich using the product in his daily life.
For a young brand like Mizzen+Main, especially a new fashion label, transparency and honesty are crucial marketing tools. Why would I try this shirt I have never heard of and order it online when I can go to Ralph Lauren and get the same shirt I’ve always worn? As a creative filmmaker, I have to find ways to use the transparency of the M+M brand and process to motivate people to click, learn more, and hopefully buy a shirt. Once they get the shirt and wear it, they’ll be hooked. I know I am.
Film is a temporal medium, which means it takes time to appreciate it. You can’t get an instant reaction from it, like you can with words or still pictures. Getting a potential client to sit down and watch even a two-minute reel — so they can see the applicability of our work to theirs — can be a real challenge.
People are busy. If this is the case with a possible client, just pitch yourself — forget about taking up precious face time by showing a video reel. People don’t hire us solely on our reel. The emotional bond that often comes from a good first impression will sell you further than your talent will.
In any case, you can always send them a reel via email. In fact, that’s often better. If they watch the video when you’re present, one of two things can happen. If they hate it, they’ll lie to make you feel good — and never call you again. If they love it, they’ll downplay how they feel because they won’t want to pay you what they now know you’re worth. So let them watch it on their own time.
If your personality and talent are a good match for the project, they’ll soon be a client.
It Gets Even Better
Thanks to the Internet, especially social networking sites and YouTube, film is pervasive. We get plenty of exposure, and clients often come directly to us. And once we proved ourselves profitable for businesses, the projects became even more amazing. However, the focus remains on telling stories; finding the best way to build a compelling, cohesive narrative is a great way to develop any business, in the film industry or not.
David Redish is the co-founder of Slice Media, an award-winning creative studio located in Dallas, Tex., that conceptualizes and produces fresh content for TV, the web, and social media through a pioneering approach.
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