5 Tips from Hollywood Directors to Help you Create Better Corporate Video
As video becomes more prevalent as a learning tool in the business world, we’re all trying to get more adept at creating better corporate video.
We’re always looking for ways to get better at it ourselves, so we started looking at some tips from big-time directors that we could use to help us shoot better video that will resonate with internal audiences.
Take a look at these five tips that we’ve put together from Hollywood directors and see how you can start creating better corporate content right now!
Give your talent room to be themselves
Kenneth Branagh has been making films for a while now, and has acted in or directed some of the most popular films of all time. Take 2011’s Thor, for example, which has raked in almost a half billion dollars—so far.
As someone who has been in front of the camera before getting behind it, Kenneth would know the importance of allowing actors to be themselves. In an interview with Deadline in 2017, Branagh said:
…one smart thing for the director to do is to get out of the way, and just try and capture the bare instincts because their intuitions are going to be so strong and so creative…
How does this apply to your corporate video? Obviously, you’re not directing Murder on the Orient Express with an accomplished cast of seasoned professionals, but you do want your on-screen talents’ personalities to shine through. You want them to feel comfortable, and to be themselves when in front of the camera.
There are few experiences worse than watching a video of someone who is tense and nervous while in front of the camera—someone who can’t relax. It’s your job to make them feel at home and to help them speak naturally to their audience.
One of the things that we do here when recording corporate video is to have a conversation with the presenter, in which someone will ask a series of questions—interview style—and have that person respond to the camera as though they were just responding to the question.
As you go along, you’ll find they get more and more comfortable and, as long as they’re well-versed in the subject matter, the information they provide gets more interesting the further along you get.
Let your talent be themselves, and watch them shine!
Make sure your corporate content tells a story
Richard Linklater is no stranger to storytelling. He famously took 11 years to shoot his movie Boyhood, which follows a family over the course of that many years of their experiences.
With filmmaking, story is everything. And for corporate video, it’s imperative that you find your story and how you’re going to tell it. Why?
Stories can put people in the place of the story being told, and can help them to better understand the company’s needs, and the path to get there. Here’s what Linklater has to say about story:
There are a million ideas in the world of stories. Humans are storytelling animals. Everything’s a story, everyone’s got stories, we’re perceiving stories, we’re interested in stories. So to me, the big nut to crack is how to tell a story, what’s the right way to tell a particular story?
One of the ways that you can communicate compelling stories to your employees is by using customers as examples.
The common case study has much the same structure as any other story. It introduces the characters, outlines a problem, gives an idea of the struggle involved, shows what the solution to the problem was, and lets you see how the “hero” of that story was able to have a better life as a result of the solution.
Above is an example of masterful storytelling in a video. It’s meant as a marketing tool, but its structure could just as easily be used to rally the troops internally. And the amazing part is that they never mention their product even once. Take a look, and start thinking about what your stories are, and how you can tell them. (Bonus points if you can get through this video without feeling like someone nearby is cutting onions.)
Big things can come from small productions
Victoria Mapplebeck is the maker of the first short film to be shot with an iPhone X. Her film focused on a series of conversations with her son. She wanted him to feel comfortable. Victoria says:
For Jim, being filmed by his mum with an iPhone wasn’t a big deal. When he looked into the lens on the iPhone X all he saw was me. When I first began directing for TV, subjects would struggle to pretend that a five-person crew (largely made up of men) were just part of the wallpaper.
She was able to capture an element of intimacy and spontaneity with her iPhone that she would not have been capable of creating with a film crew, or even a large camera. And with a small portable camera capable of capturing up to 4K video at 24, 30, or 60fps, you can manage to get some really great looking shots on a budget!
Victoria says that shooting alone with a smartphone allows her to create video at a fraction of the cost that it would if she were to work with a conventional crew and kit. And with the ability to create video on the fly, anywhere, with almost anyone, it’s a great tool for creating ‘guerilla-style’ corporate content that helps you to get deeper into your company’s story.
A word of advice for those who will use this method. While we will, from time to time, employ the same tactics internally here, our Video Producer and Creative Director Jahanzaib Bitou Mirza cautions that you need to consider the rules of video aesthetics, such as the law of thirds, smooth camera movements, and great sound quality. Also, it is imperative that you pay attention to the lighting. Bitou says:
Video quality matters a bit less when all the other rules are applied and respected. The whole video message can come across nicely.
So, shoot away with that iPhone, but remember to pay attention to the rules.
Focus on the audience
The first thing that anyone who is shooting film of any kind should ask of themselves is, who is this for?
John Heijligers, Art Director for EIT Digital at Eindhoven University of Technology writes the following in an article called Tips from the Art Director’s Studio:
In our training programs we highlight the importance of enthusiasm and focus. The learner should always come first! A good way to shift an instructor’s focus to learners is to ask key questions. Who are your learners? Are they beginners or experts?? What do they hope to achieve?
This information helps you to refine your subject matter, and even the manner in which it will be presented. Corporate communication is not so far away from marketing in some respects, in that it is imperative that you know your audience, speak to them in their ‘language,’ and demonstrate fully that you’re able to solve whatever problems they might be having.
It’s easy enough to do a survey of your target audience and ask them questions that will help you to create content that is increasingly useful to them. So, not sure sure what they need? Ask!
Perseverance is key
This is important to everyone. And it’s so important that it bears repeating. Regularly.
Patty Jenkins is a film and television director who is probably best known for the 2017 Wonder Woman film. She also wrote and directed the 2003 film Monster, which received awards in multiple categories at the Golden Globes, the SAG awards, and others.
When asked what advice she would give to an aspiring filmmaker, she replied,
Humble perseverance and the ability to observe and grow, in pursuit of making what you love and believe in. Really. THAT is the secret. https://t.co/cnFwbZwK3d
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) 16 November 2016
There’s actually a lot to digest there, but let’s focus on “humble perseverance.” How can that help you make better corporate videos?
The idea of humble perseverance would mean an ability to continue learning, and to continue to get better all the time. Those who are willing to believe that they already know everything about what they’re doing will never get any better at it, and the audience will suffer as a result.
By adopting this attitude, it means that you’ll be willing to put in the work, to learn from your mistakes, to see what good you’ve done, and to strive to get better with each and every video shoot.
As a result, your audience will continue to be engaged, and will get more out of the stories you’re telling them with video. As important a tool as video is for ensuring the continued growth of businesses today, it’s crucial that everyone involved in the process be able to proceed with the same humility and perseverance as someone like Patty Jenkins.
It might seem like a bit of a stretch. The sentiment might even seem a bit too sincere. But try to apply it to your work for a while, and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Ready for more?
If you’re hungry for more content on creating great corporate videos, check out this next post, 5 Steps to Creating Corporate Video That Employees Will Actually Watch.
We break down tips from experts that focus more succinctly on the process of creating video. Check it out here.