How to tackle corporate and promotional films
Imagine sitting in a classroom with a pen and paper on your desk, listening to the endless garbage that is coming out of your teacher’s mouth. Starring at the clock for what seems like hours on end, waiting for the bell to ring, that signals your class finishing. It’s here, it’s finally here, the end of the day, you hurriedly grab your stuff and head towards the door without making eye contact with the teacher, you’ve made it, almost. You reach out to grab the handle of the door, when you suddenly hear your name. Everything seems to slow down, you turn round awaiting the hell which might follow ‘Oh I nearly forgot, here is your next assignment. I would like you to produce a short promotional film, don’t worry, with everything that we spoke about in class today, you’ll have no trouble blitzing through this one’ Who, what, where, when, why, how; you can’t remember anything that was spoken about, not because you didn’t understand it, but because you decided not to listen to anything. You turn around towards the handle of the door. What once seemed like it was inches away, now feels like it is a world away.
Perhaps that is exactly how you feel as well. You need to understand something which you can’t and don’t understand. And you worry that what you do produce might be completely wrong. You believe that you don’t need to be an A* student to produce Distinction grade work, and your right, you don’t need to be.
Much like you, we were in the same position. So in this article, we will be guiding you through the various steps of how to create a corporate and promotional film, without getting inside and twisting your head.
So let’s start off with the simple question you want to know ‘what is corporate and promotion’ with a fairly basic answer, which later on will have expanded into something that we fully understand.
Corporate and Promotion is the production of a promotional material or form of media for a corporate company (in our case a film). As simple as that. Seeing as this is a promotional film for a ‘professional’ company. You have to act professionally. So their are several things you have to bare in mind about this creating a corporate and promotion piece.
Codes and Conventions
Some of the biggest challenges when producing a piece of corporate and promotional media are understanding the areas that are most important throughout the production process. Some of the most important areas that you need to understand are legal rights, ethics and advertisement.
Legal rights are issues predominantly based around things such as copyright and music. You can’t use somebody else’s work as your own. So in the case of music, you can either ask someone you know if you can use their music, or you can scout the internet for royalty free music. For example, ‘Soundcloud’ is a good one that you can use to find music to use or modify for commercial purposes, but you need to make sure that the music has been declared ‘free to download’ by the provider. And remember to all ways credit your musicians; we all know who delivers the post, so why shouldn’t we know who provides the music. Copyright is very similar to the issues with music, this may occur if you want to use pictures or footage. You want to make sure that you aren’t using somebody else’s work.
‘Beats by Dre’ – ‘Hear what you want’ advert
Obviously you wouldn’t be able to go and just download the song and place it on your video. Even if you did pay for the song by purchasing the CD or purchasing the song on iTunes, you still wouldn’t have the consent of the producer to use or modify the song as you so wish to.
Yes, I know what you are thinking, everyone modifies or uses songs/footage without consent and publishes them on ‘Youtube’. That is because the video will probably be for someone’s entertainment purposes and will not be for a company. Those video’s are extremely unlikely to be seen by the original artist/publisher, so copyright probably won’t be inflicted on them. However if you are making a video for a company then you need to have the rights to use the song/footage, seeing as you are advertising them and you could get them in trouble. Similarly if you have a Youtube channel that is viral, then you will probably need to make sure you have the right to use the song/footage as many people will view your videos’ and you could get in trouble.
However seeing as you are making a video that is for a professional company, by professional standards, then it would be advised that your video gets published to ‘Vimeo’ instead ‘Youtube’. Vimeo is a more professional video company than youtube. And you can use it to create a portfolio of all the work that you do.
Here you can see that I am on ‘Souncloud’ and I am searching for music that I can use in my promotional video.
- Click ‘explore’
- Type in what your looking for
- Click ‘tracks’
- Click ‘to listen to’
- Click ‘to use/modify commercially’
- Make sure it says ‘free download’
Just a quick note to add, make sure that you are not downloading a song that you know, that says ‘free download’ because quite often people will make covers/remixes of famous/viral songs and will give others the consent to use their remix. However they probably never got permission to modify the song in the first place.
You need to be really careful when facing ethics. You need to make sure that you balance out those within the film. So you should include a variety of races, religions, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. So basically another way of looking at it is ‘DON’T BE BIASED’. Don’t just keep using the same people over and over again. You need to show the viewers what they are buying into, and you don’t want to give the impression that your clients are a segregated, racist or sexist company. The alternative way of looking at it is, you are at a party and you have five other people alongside you, and they each chip in their share (buying into the business) to order in some pizza’s. You only like pepperoni. But if you only order pepperoni, people are going to look at you (your client) as non diverse. So in order to avoid those problems, you order a variety of pizza’s, to keep everyone happy and give a good impression. While this isn’t the best metaphor possible, you get the idea.
In my promotional video (scroll down to see somewhereto_ promotional video) I tried to make sure that those onscreen were varied. So I featured clips of male white performers, female white performers and black male performers. As far as I am aware their were no female black performers, which is the reason that none of them feature on screen.
‘Dollar Shave Club’
This video is about a company that advertises razors, in particular a monthly razor package that you can subscribe to every month.
Those behind this video try to balance everything up by featuring a woman who seems to be of latino american origin. This is so the company does not appear to be dominated by white males. The video goes on to ask the woman ‘what were you doing last month’ ? to which she replies ‘not working’ which brings on the next question ‘what are you doing now’? to which she replies ‘working’. The video tries to make the company look like its a diverse one, although their are some questions to be raised about the way they handled it in the video, since they chose a latino american woman. It is as if they presume that people from South America or Mexico perhaps don’t work as often as other groups of people. So it seems like they wanted to do the right thing, but did it the wrong way.
This is all about style, sales and advertisement. So the key to this is understanding the needs and wants of your client (the company). You have to produce something which successfully sells them and their product(s). So the best way to do this is to liaise with your client either in person (face to face) or to stay in regular contact with them over emails or any other networking sites. But try to use emails or face to face conversations in order to look more professional. That isn’t always the case though, as your client may be young and technological for instance and may prefer chatting over Facebook or other social media, but make sure you properly understand your client first before you decide if social media is an acceptable form of conversation.
This part can be broken down into three sections:-
Style – This is about how you want the film to look. As you are making a film for a professional company, you want it to look professional, and you may have a few things in mind in order to give it that edge. For instance music might be one of them, you might want the film to be slow placed or you might want it to be fast paced. You might want to sync up the sound with the clips, so that it ‘feels right’ when you watch the video. This could also be about fonts, choice of shots etc. This is where your vision as a ‘filmmaker comes into it’ anyone who makes at least one film is a filmmaker. You have to be good at it to be considered successful.
‘This is a generic brand video’
This video is generally fast paced in both shots and music, but also goes quite slow at times. But one thing that the producer’s of this video, really thought about was the dialogue that you hear. If really puts their own style on the video because the voice has been recorded from right up close to the speakers voice, who just happens to be a fairly old deep voice that is meant to give the video this overall perspective as they are ‘wise’ and ‘knowledgable’. But the dialogue itself is simple but effective because you will hear phrases like
- ‘See how we’re part of a global economy’
- ‘Check out this wind energy thing in Indiana’
- ‘Here’s some powerful rushing water and people planting tree’s’
The video is all about stock footage but instead of just displaying cool shots (often slow-mo), with cool music and just say at the end ‘stock footage from…’ The producers have put their own twist on it.
Sales – The key to getting the sales point right is to understand the target audience. You need to know who the company are aiming to promote themselves and their products to. You will have to model your work around the people that you are catering them towards.
In my promotional video which was aimed towards young people, I had certain ideas about how I wanted to present the video, with the audience in mind.
I started off the video by using several methods to keep the audience’s attention. Typically young people have shorter attention spans and if they are not interested within the first 5-10 seconds, they won’t bother paying attention at all.
So what I did to counter this was that I placed several quotes on screen, but the quotes are all that you can see, so this hopefully leaves the young people curious about what the advert is about, and just what these people are describing.
Then once the footage comes in, several voices start saying ‘somewhereto_’ which is the name of the company. Hopefully at this point they are thinking ‘what is somewhereto_?’ And it isn’t until about 20 seconds in until someone actually describes just what somewhereto_ actually is. At this point they may be inclined to watch the whole thing as they have already watched a fairly long duration of the video.
Advertisement – Quite often this part refers to product placement. This is when a company that owns a brand e.g. coca cola, pays the producer of a film to advertise the product within. This won’t be extremely noticeable. Often it will have a short feature that sometimes lurks in the background.
For example AMC had a long running deal with Hyundai that meant that the Hyundai SUV was able to be advertised on AMC’s hit show ‘The Walking Dead’. The car would feature every now and then and would probably get up to 30 seconds at the most on screen at one given time.
Everything that you do needs to be planned beforehand, so you know exactly what you are doing. Some of the types of planning might be
- Research – Looking at videos produced by other people that are similar to what you are filming. You might get ideas and inspiration from them.
- Treatments – Talk about your aesthetic; what you want your film to look like. Tell your clients, how you are going to advertise their products and bring your vision to life.
- Shot Lists – write down what shots you want to capture when you are their. With no shot list, you are going to struggle on the day of shooting and you will probably take twice as long as you would if you had planned your film. This way you won’t forget to get any shots that you need.
- Risk Assessments – Take note of the potential risks and hazards when visiting a certain location or using certain equipment.
- Storyboards – Draw out how you want the final video to look. You don’t need to be good at drawing. Stick men will do. This help plan the shots you want.
- Schedules – This is like a diary in a way. It has times and places written down in it. You need to organise everyone and tell them where to be and when. This will really help.
- Clothing – This is about what everyone is going to be wearing. This may not be a critical in some films, where people can just turn up in whatver and you just film them naturally. But some times when you want the film to look a certain way, you might ask them to wear certain clothing. Colours and clothing can alter the viewers perception.
- Locations – This is about where you want to film and the locations are critical towards the look of your film. If you want your film to have the correct style, look and vibe then it needs good locations.
For additional support, here are a few examples of production documents and what they might look like.
All of these adverts have a strong comedic twist to them. One of the most important things about making a short promotional video is to draw the viewers in and give them something to remember. Adverts like these come to mind a lot quicker than most other adverts. And the important thing about them is that I can remember what they are advertising.
Their are many car adverts and within them their is a strong line between the successful adverts and not so successful adverts, but this particular advert remains among the one’s which I remember the best. It is really cool to see the inside of an Audi, although many other adverts show the inside of cars, but the constant roar of the engine would leave any car fan jealous at the sight of this…well unless they owned a Ferrari or something similar anyway.