What’s the story? Part 1: How to make a (good) promotional film
This is Part 1 of the How To Make A (Good) Promotional Film series. Click here to find out more about this series or access other chapters. New instalments will be released every Friday. Click here to have them emailed straight to your inbox the moment they go live.
So, you want to make a promotional film. Great! Well, where do you start?
What not to do
This is how a lot of (not so good) production companies or in-house teams will start:
“We need to look really impressive… Ooh and we need to make sure we get in that fact about being the fastest growing company in our sector… And we need to show the technology… We should show it in the lab and on a client site… And lets show the whole senior management team… Maybe we can have everyone talking to the camera? Which site shall we show? Let’s maybe show all of them because it shows the full range of applications…”
Stop for a minute. I’m not saying these are bad ideas, but you’ve got ahead of yourself. If you keep going with this approach you’re going to make rather boring sales-focused corporate film.
So what’s missing? There is no STORY.
People love stories
People do NOT love information overload. They do not love being obviously sold to. People love stories. And I mean all people – investors, executive level decision makers, journalists, customers… they’re all people. They all want to buy into a good story: your story. IF you tell it right.
Starting from the story
So let’s start that film brainstorming process again…
Now we’re getting there.
I’m not saying you don’t want to get across your key commercial messages (wait for Part 2!). I’m not saying you don’t want to show your technology in action, or feature your enigmatic CEO talking. What I’m saying is – Lead With The Story. What story can you tell that gets those messages across whilst convincing viewers that this is something worth paying attention to?
All three above examples are real films we’ve made. Let’s look at one of them in more detail…
Kite Power Solutions
KPS is developing technology to harness wind energy using large, automated, flying kites. They wanted people to take the technology seriously, to understand the basics of how it works, and to believe that it will one day (soon!) be a serious contender to traditional wind turbines.
So we told the story of the technology from the point of the passionate CEO. The story starts with the issue in the energy market – we need clean energy sources but renewables are currently too expensive.
We then introduce the solution but with a bit of history (a story)– the idea of using kites to harness energy is actually quite an old one, but the technology just wasn’t there to make it feasible.
And finally, we end with a vision – a large-scale system that is deployable anywhere in the world. And it’s not just a vision, it’s his vision. So we care, because we don’t feel we’re watching a company sales pitch, we feel like someone is sharing their story with us.
The visual story
In fact, this film has two stories. The story above outlines what you hear. But the joy of film is that you get to see and hear. So while that spoken story is going on, we tell another story – a visual one.
We follow the launch of a two-kite system. At first, we’re close up watching the preparations…it’s not quite clear what’s going on. But as the kite is launched, we go with it, soaring high above the airfield test area. The music lifts with us (music can tell a story all in its own right!) and from there we watch the kites fly. (We’ll look more at how visuals and audio can tell different stories in Part 3).
People engage because people love stories. And it works. The Kite Power Systems film is by far our most popular film to date. It has 20,000 views on our channel alone and is the most discussed and commented on film that we’ve produced. Take a look and see what you think…
Hold on to your story
Once you’ve got your story, don’t forget it. Because everything you do next needs to hang off that story. The visuals tell that story. The interviews or voice over tell that story. The music tells that story. Then, within that story, you can put your key messages that you desperately want your audience to understand.
Understand the importance of stories? Well as long as you don’t forget that, we’re now ready to talk about the key message. Read Part 2: Key messages
Want to know more about our film service? Take a look at our website.
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