Film like it used to be – for modern day

February 25, 2019

As the old folks would say, “’Memba film? That’s when the moving pictures MEANT something!” The days when artists would craft thoughtful, moving stories; capturing them on a medium that was delicate, expensive and fleeting. I’m thinking of Citizen Kane – Lawrence of Arabia – Metropolis! Singular accomplishments that even to this day, remind us just how powerful moving images can be.

Nowadays, anyone with a smart phone can be a filmmaker of some degree. That’s great for accessibility – it’s never been easier to breathe life into your creative visions! (We all know what that’s done to the definition of ‘acceptable level of quality,’ so I’ll save the snobbery.) But – I bet we can all do a little better even with minimal effort.

Working with clients, I’ve found it helpful to break down the core benefits of film and get back to the basics. Not only will it make your video more watchable, it’ll help you distill down what you’re really trying to accomplish.

Show us who you are

Imagine those old, gossamer close-ups from Casablanca. Like a photograph but more immediate, film is an intense conductor of emotional energy. So much about us is programmed into recognizing faces and expressions as a means of communication. The lesson – if you’re going to effectively communicate an idea, let me look you in the eye. You founded your company? Show me your face and tell me why. Don’t be a disembodied voice over a PowerPoint – or worse – a slideshow.

It’s about an Experience

Say you’re trying to recruit new employees, and would love to produce some testimonials. But maybe your operation isn’t quite as interesting as the cookie factory from Edward Scissorhands (SOMEONE had to be oiling Vincent Price’s robots, right?), so you park an employee in the canteen, put a cell phone camera in front of them and tell them to spill their beans. What’s produced is a four-minute monologue resembling a hostage video.  Remember: film has the power to take us somewhere unfamiliar. Take me into the life and experience of that employee – interacting with coworkers, family and enjoying a decent living.

It’s about a BRIEF Experience

Editing is its own category at the Academy Awards for a reason: with attention spans approaching goldfish levels, none but the most captive of audiences will hang around for your 10-minute yarn about… well, anything. As Rocky teaches us, you can do a lot with a brief montage. While professional editing comes with a professional price tag, we can ALL do a better job of trimming the fat from our content (myself included). In most, if not all cases, less is more. Keep it short – salient – and sweet.

In that spirit of brevity, I’ll leave you with the often-quoted words of Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, but will never forget how you made them feel.” Put another way: make a connection, share an experience, and get out before you become boring.


Taylor Kearns is a filmmaker at heart and a professional communicator by trade. Ever since he got his hands on the family camcorder as a child, he’s been using video and sound to tell stories. In college, he turned that love of moving pictures into a career in broadcast journalism. He went on to earn two regional Emmy awards for his work. With seven years’ experience as a photojournalist and reporter, Taylor sought out the feature stories he knew would resonate with viewers.

Originally published in Midlands Biz on February 26, 2019.

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