I don't know about you. I always thought that being in a movie would be fun. Many are in love with the idea of having their fifteen minutes of fame. So filming corporate videos should be a great experience, right?
Not quite. Many corporate videos do not bring your brand to life, says Director Tom. Your story is often not told in a clear and authentic way. Why is this important? So it can stick. You want your story to jump off the screen and into your customers' hearts.
Thomas R. Clifford, Director Tom, is passionate about enlightened corporate film making. He has been producing and directing corporate videos for over 22 years. Tom has won awards because his videos are energetic, engaging, compelling, meaningful, and authentic.
How does he do that? He sees himself as a documentary filmmaker who can capture corporate stories on video. He does that by sitting down with your best storytellers -- your employees -- your "heroes." I've seen boring and staged corporate videos; Tom promises short "PBS films on caffeine!"
He has directed videos that tell the stories of Deloitte, Honeywell, the Epilepsy Foundation, The Hartford Financial Services Group and Loctite, as well as local non-profits. The results have been memorable experiences that have strengthened and extended the recognition of those brands by igniting conversations and connections.
Customers do not buy products -- they buy stories about who you are and what you stand for. Tom’s passion is to help remarkable organizations tell their story and bring their brand to life. This is the transcript of a conversation I had with Tom by email. As we've done in the past, I look forward to including your take (pun intended) in Part Two.
Valeria Maltoni: Tom, despite the skepticism we've reached from most forms of advertising -- print, online banners, billboards -- and what some call internal propaganda -- newsletters, Intranets, memos -- there is one medium that continues to captivate us: video.
The success of YouTube is not accidental. It is anchored to the wonder we associate with film and the use of video narrative to tell a story. In 2003, BMW pioneered short films with its campaign The Hire (Fallon Worldwide) that saw the debut of British actor Clive Owen. The shorts were offered online only and managed to stir a lot of buzz.
The quest for talent is one of the challenges organizations face today. I receive at least two calls and three email inquiries a day from recruiters asking me to connect them with talent on behalf of companies -- I'm sure I'm not alone. To find and retain talent, companies need a new way, one that can convey messages that are energetic, engaging, compelling, meaningful and authentic. And you help them do that with film.
Tell me how you do it.
Before I tell you how I help companies communicate messages that are energetic, emotional and meaningful through the short documentary format, let me first "set the stage" with some quick background on corporate videos in general.
Over the years, corporate videos has had a bad rap...and rightly so.
Many corporate videos have been poorly executed simply due to a lack of story; not budget. I've worked with the tightest and largest of budgets, and I can tell you this: story rules.
Think about this for a minute. Story. Film. In many corporate films, what happens when two of the most powerful and emotionally engaging mediums collide? What gets produced? A talking head. Boring pictures. Dispassionate narration. How can a company possibly inspire anyone this way? They can't.
My films focus on people and their story. Sounds simple, but it's rarely done. Here's what I mean.
Pick a topic...let's say, diversity. And let's say, an organization is seeking a way to tell their story on diversity.
The classic corporate video approach is to write a script based on the marketing department's talking points. Then you might interview some senior level executives to pontificate what the voice-over has already said. Film some footage that is clearly staged, perhaps with actors, and call it a day. There's something terribly wrong with this picture...there is no story. No drama. No tension.
I actually had to produce and direct this film for Deloitte as part of their national kick-off campaign on embracing diversity. Here's a real-life example of what I did and how I typically craft a corporate film, no matter what the subject.
First, I spent time with my scriptwriter discovering four employees, or "heroes" as I call them in my films, who had very diverse backgrounds and who could really articulate their personal views on diversity. I pre-interviewed them over the phone to get a sense of their story. When it came time to film them, I interviewed them at length with no script; no questions were sent ahead of time for studying corporate speak; no one over my head second-guessing everything the heroes said. What was captured was real, personal and from the heart.
But I also went out on a limb: I wanted to film our heroes not only in the Deloitte offices but outside the office. I really wanted to capture our heroes engaged in their hobbies or passions to showcase their entire self; not just the "office worker." After a week of filming, we captured some absolutely remarkable and unexpected scenes...all totally spontaneous, authentic, emotional and engaging.
In editing, the story told itself. I just enabled an invisible story to come to life.
Documentaries by their very nature are personal in their approach. The viewer cares a lot more about a personal story than a corporate story. So capturing several personal stories helps shape and tell the corporate story in a way that a narrator just cannot do.
To be continued...
Let's talk. Have you seen examples of corporate videos that light you up? Would your company go for the (personal) story approach?