Flesh and bones:
what makes a video memorable

Drive media house, october 2015


I am not a producer, a video editor, or a cinematographer, but I’ve been on enough sets to appreciate the amount of time, money, and manpower it takes to make even the smallest of video projects come to fruition. You miss one step in the production process and you’re left with an incomplete project—something that can pass but that will probably be memorable for the wrong reasons. But memorable for the right reasons? If you ask me, it’s in the emotion and the editing—the flesh and bones of a piece.

Though I am not a video expert, I am both a writer and an editor. As such, I’ve honed my ability to wrangle ordinary writing into something masterful. Forget the scalpel; the red pen is my surgical tool of choice. Editing allows you to tighten the structure and tempo of a story or article; with it, you can tell a compelling narrative rather than simply having fragmented pieces that vaguely connect. But it’s not just in the pacing and arrangement of words; it’s the emotion that gives flesh to the bones of a piece, that makes it live and breathe. Stories with grit, passion, a sense of realism, and imagination tend to stick with people.

And you know, I think the same goes for film. The videos that resonate the most with viewers—from TV commercials to feature films—are those that elicit a reaction, whether from the dialogue, the way it is cut, or the cinematography. And I’m not just talking about the ones that pull at your heartstrings and make you cry. (I’m looking at you, Budweiser.) I’m talking about the videos where you laugh until it hurts because a punchline is cut so perfectly with a character’s reactions. (Michael Scott, anyone?) It’s those that make your heart start thumping with anticipation as the music shifts into a minor key and the shadows get longer, that set your imagination free and cause you to see a bit of yourself, and your own human experience, portrayed on that screen.

In life, we’re always looking for things to connect with. So when we recognize ourselves in a film, an article, a book, or a commercial, we remember it because it’s as if someone is saying: “I’ve been there too. And wasn’t it hilarious/heart-breaking/inspiring/life-changing?”

It’s memorable because it moved us, because we believed it. But don’t just take my word for it—take a look at the following clips, which I’m sure will stick with you long after you’re done watching them.

Exhibit A: Nostalgic Narrative—Monty the Penguin

All of one’s childhood imaginings are wrapped up in this two-minute ditty. It’s proof that a video doesn’t have to be long to be significant or memorable. With no dialogue, a few choice looks from both boy and penguin, and an emotionally engaging soundtrack, John Lewis manages to tell a story full of imagination, love, and selflessness. This clip strikes a chord with me because I remember what it was like to have such a well-worn pal accompanying me on life’s adventures (Ace the Dalmatian in my case). Oh, the memories!

Exhibit B: The Funny Guy—Dollar Shave Club

This is a lesson in not taking life too seriously. It’s hilarious, absurd, and makes you feel like this company is in your corner. It compels you to take action because it makes you believe that life will be more fun with this guy in your life. Even though he’s not in your life at all, just on a screen, online. Regardless, excuse me while I go buy some razors.

Exhibit C: Stories of Substance—Last Minutes With Oden

If this video didn’t have you crying big, gushing tears by the end, then I must ask you this: do you have a heart? Are you a robot? The portrayal of unconditional love and the heartbreak of loss show up in the voice that cracks, in those puppy-dog eyes, in the drizzling rain and the music that swells and softens. This rips at our hearts because we’ve been there. There’s nothing in this clip that calls you to action—it simply makes you pause and reflect. It’s heartbreaking, but it somehow gives you hope, just for knowing that such love exists.

So, what videos have you found most memorable and compelling lately? Why?

P.S. Want a behind-the-scenes perspective from the real film experts—the directors themselves? I find the Anatomy of a Scene clips from the New York Times infinitely interesting.

See original article here.

innovate your brand

drive media house, april 2015


Consumers are no longer shopping for products, they’re shopping for stories. They want to know that what they buy is more than just a commodity. What else does it have to offer? If the choice is between a boot that was made in a factory in China or an American-made, leather boot, just like the one their grandpa used to wear, they will almost always choose the latter, even if it means paying a little more. Because stories matter to consumers today. They want to know the depth of what they’re buying. They want it to say something about who they are, that they care about locally made goods, sustainability, fair labor and honest sourcing. These things matter.

As a marketer, business owner, or both, we know that you take pride in what you’re doing and how your products are being used. But how do you sell story, rather than product? It’s a whole new kind of marketing challenge. That’s where we come in. Our production company has honed in on a style of videography that creatively speaks to brands that are not necessarily known for creative thinking. We want to refresh the image of long-standing brands and act as a springboard for new ones. Since we’re coming into your company from the outside, we offer a fresh pair of eyes and help you reimagine how to communicate your story. We love collaborating with our clients to craft that story, to tell it in an engaging way that allows your audience to see you in a new light. We help them meaningfully interact with your brand, understand what drives you and why they should get on board.

Because, for them, it’s not about the product—it’s about who it allows them to be. You’re selling them on a lifestyle by telling them your story.

In a world where we’re constantly consuming content, the only real way to connect with viewers is to show them something honest and authentic. We believe that clients come to us because they want something new—they want to create a piece that connects with viewers by tapping into their individual emotional experience through fun, moving narratives, helping them engage with your product or brand in a new way.

We want them to come away from our commercials with the sense that they can trust the brand that is represented. The best part? Once they’ve been moved by your story, they will become passionate ambassadors of your brand, because they have found something they can stand behind. The solution? Give them a story worth sharing.

See original article here.

Defining Your Audience

Drive Media House, January 2015

“Many organizations will take any customer, any time, and bend and writhe to accommodate money in whatever form it arrives. Other, happier organizations understand the benefit of optimizing for a certain kind of interaction, and they have the guts to decline the part of the market that doesn’t want to use their tool/organization the way it was intended.” — Seth Godin

We recently talked about answering the question “Why are we here?” We believe there’s great value in having an internal sense of purpose. But once you have defined that internally, it’s time to look outward. You can have great vision and passion, but if you aren’t reaching the right people, it will all go to waste.

With each new client, we always start with our Discovery Phase. This helps us learn exactly where you are coming from so that we can create a product that reflects your goals while speaking to your desired audience.  It’s in this sweet spot of coupling purpose and audience that your message will shine.

A clearly defined audience will not only drive the product and content you, as a brand, create for them, but it will help you more specifically target those people so that they are driven to pursue your company. This allows you to tailor your messaging to build a more meaningful connection between you and them. Product and marketing both hinge on this definition.

So, ask yourself, who are these people? Create demographic breakdowns of the types of people you are most trying to reach. Hone in on the age range, education levels or careers, location, and anything else that helps you pinpoint the type of person you are targeting. Maybe you have one very specific person in mind, or maybe it’s a couple of different types of people—either way, give yourself a tight focus. As long as you know who they are, you have a launching point.

From there, ask yourself what are my goals in reaching these people? What problem or situation in their life are you speaking to through your messages or products? Are you a coffee shop looking to attract trendy college students? Are you offering a cleaning product, career guidance or financial advising? Find the problem in their lives that you’re targeting and connect that with what you have to offer.

Sometimes you’ll know the answers to these questions simply by the nature of your brand’s vision or product. Other times you need to hit the streets and talk to actual people who meet your criteria and find out exactly what it is they need and want. Then, put it down on paper. Take the time to actually write out audience profiles so that you have a tangible statement to go back to, something through which to filter your goals and actions.

By connecting your target demographic with what you can offer them or want to do for them, you’ll find that you suddenly have a clearly defined path on which to reach those people.

See original article here.