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 'kobox'. 

 

(promo, 2018)

Company: Guar Collective

Synopsis:

Kobox isn't just a gym, it's a lifestyle. That's why we decided to work with them. We wanted to help them show the raw intensity of what a work out there will put you through.

This video was the centre piece of our work with them, but we also put together 13 personal trainer social videos, team headshots, and a variety of gifs and photos to bulk out their media pack.

 

Sony FS7 Mk i

Samyung Cine-Primes

  • Writer's pictureGeorge

Story is key: Elevating Your Corporate Message through Compelling storytelling and video production

Updated: Feb 13


 


Myself (George) on location filming the documentary 'End to End' (2022)

KEY TAKEAWAYS


  • Prioritize storytelling as the cornerstone in corporate content creation.

  • Dive deep into your narrative's roots, exploring the context and the individuals influencing it.

  • Commence your storytelling journey from the heart of the story, progressing organically towards delivering the message.


 

Over the past decade, I've been involved in diverse projects, initially beginning as a camera assistant for low-budget short films. Subsequently, I transitioned to camera operating for IMG Media's InCycle division. As time progressed, I further shifted my focus to the director's chair, collaborating directly with clients on their respective projects - throughout my time you can see what sticks and what doesn’t quite work when it comes to content creation.


I come from a world of fiction, predominantly immersed in the creation of short films and music videos; after all it is what I studied at university. In my role as a Cinematographer within these productions, my responsibility was to enhance the narrative through thoughtful approaches to lighting and camera work. Is the scene meant to evoke drama? If so, how can I use lighting to enhance that? Where is the setting, and what emotions are the characters experiencing? These questions, and many more, always revolved around serving the characters and, more crucially, the overarching story.


Transitioning into the realm of factual projects like documentaries, corporate films, and promotional content posed a challenge in maintaining this artistic principle. In the early stages of my career shift, delineating the boundary between serving the story and adhering to practical constraints proved to be quite elusive. Frequently, I found myself navigating through dynamic, rapidly evolving situations where capturing the shot took precedence over storytelling. On the flip side, some projects didn't demand an intense focus on the narrative, as they were merely "just a piece to camera."


This is a juncture where, in my opinion, many people tend to make missteps.


CORPORATE VIDEO PRODUCTION VS CORPORATE DOCUMENTARY STORYTELLING


For several years, I've chosen to label corporate videos production as corporate documentary storytelling. The rationale behind this lies in my approach to corporate filmmaking—I consistently adopt a storytelling perspective. Commencing your filmmaking journey by delving into your company's essence and progressing towards the desired message is far more effective than working in reverse. 


Consider this scenario: In 2019, I collaborated with a client named American Wind. While initially briefed about their unique wind turbine, instead of merely capturing picturesque footage in Alabama and asking technical questions, I took a different approach. A brief research dive uncovered a captivating backstory. Intrigued, I initiated a call with the clients, urging them to narrate their story in their own words. Through a series of follow-up questions, I aimed to understand who they were, their origins, and the inspiration behind developing the product. This method not only provided valuable context but also unravelled motivations and added a human touch, resulting in a much more engaging film. I would say more details but you would be better served by watching the finished piece:





SO…WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?


In essence, does rephrasing corporate video production to corporate documentary storytelling truly make a significant impact? Not necessarily; it's essentially just a phrase. However, it serves as a starting point for creative and client to engage.


This is also why I prefer to identify as a filmmaker rather than a videographer. It's not a critique of videographers, as I often function in that role myself. Yet, the term "videographer" might conjure an image of someone with a DSLR on a gimbal, capturing weddings or testimonials. While there's nothing wrong with that, my inclination has always been to approach projects from a storytelling perspective, leading me to adopt the filmmaker label.


The way we phrase things holds substantial weight. It can alter initial preconceptions associated with our work, and importantly, it can influence the approach taken by those involved in a given project.


MESSAGE VS STORY


While some may argue that message and story are synonymous, I very much disagree with that notion. 


In my perspective, a message represents the primary objective of a video, while the story serves as the cohesive thread that binds everything together, rendering it digestible for viewers. It takes them on a journey that ticks all the boxes, ultimately enhancing the coherence and impact of the message.


A compelling illustration of this concept is my work for Volvo. Being a Volvo owner myself, the clients found amusement in my genuine enthusiasm for the brand, rooted in fond memories of journeys taken in my Grandpa’s old Volvo Amazon along the Surrey B-roads.


When Volvo approached me to create a film detailing their commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral company—encompassing not just electric cars but an entire decarbonization of the production process—it presented an intriguing topic with broad appeal.


My task was to decipher how to frame this narrative from a storytelling perspective, and the solution was apparent to me. Recognizing Volvo's historical significance as the pioneers of the three-point seatbelt in the late 1950s, with an enduring reputation for safety, I saw the perfect angle. Volvo, synonymous with safety, was now aspiring to be synonymous with sustainability.


The story unfolded as a natural progression: a brand known for ensuring the safety of families on the road now aiming to be a leader in environmentally conscious transportation. The idea was to associate Volvo with green vehicles in the minds of consumers.


Admittedly, I'm not a marketing expert, nor do I belong to Volvo's PR team. Despite the prevalent association of sustainable mobility with Tesla, I realized this narrative was about Volvo's ambitions to become that defining company. It aimed to carve out an exclusive niche in the market, drawing on their rich history of compassion for customers and others on the road. Despite the unique challenge of shooting the entire video remotely, I felt gratified with the outcome, showcasing Volvo's commitment to sustainability and weaving a captivating story from their legacy.



TAKEAWAYS


On my inaugural day at film school, a room filled with slightly hungover, adolescent students was posed a question: "What is the most crucial element of filmmaking?" Various responses emerged, citing aspects like "the look," "the tone," "the directing," and "the performance." However, no one hit the mark. After a brief pause, our course leader uttered, "Story. Story is key."


In the realm of fiction, every department - be it camera, lighting, makeup, or set design - is ultimately present to serve the story. Likewise, in corporate communications, your story should be the focal point of your creative endeavour. When executed effectively, your story seamlessly complements your message, and in turn, your message enhances your story.


Never underestimate the significance of placing a story at the core of your creation; without it, anything produced lacks substance. While you may create a video that travels from point A to B, it's the nuances in between that transform it into captivating storytelling.


If you have some work you would like to discuss with me, please get in touch!


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