THE IMPORTANCE OF ‘CHARACTERS’

‘CHARACTERS’ IN CORPORATE VIDEOS

The need for ‘good talent’ on camera is well known. We all want interview comments delivered articulately, with moments of effortless enthusiasm & insight. These ‘ping’ moments are vital for viewer engagement & best of all, genuinely lodging ideas in their memory.

But how exactly to achieve that impact when you’re not confident you have that ‘good talent’ amongst those closest to the project you want to highlight? Perhaps it’s still a safer option to revert back to the old corporate style of a professional presenter or voice over artist …??

Well, not if you want to use the power of an authentic corporate video story!

Your story WILL need to be told by those with first hand experience of the subject matter you want talked about. Vital to the success with this stylistic approach are characters that can be properly related to as people, not just ‘talking heads’ delivering expected corporate ‘blah’!

 

So what constitutes an authentic character then?

  • they need to feel believable, relatable, 3-dimensional (in the time allowed).
  • their comments need to feel effortlessly delivered

 

What type of comments are we looking for?

  1. expert informational insights into (a) a process that’s been undertaken or will be &/or (b) a summary of the intentions or outcomes for that process. These comments need to feel insightful, concise & an expression of first-hand experience.
  2. personal feelings & opinions on the value of the project as a result of their personal involvement. Often delivered by stakeholder types that are most relevant to the intended audience eg community members OR consumers OR staff of the organisation &/or partner organisations.

 

 

The limitations on delivering ‘characters’ in corporate videos

  • With standard video lengths of 1 – 4 mins, the available screen time for each ‘character’ is very short compared with ‘characters’ we know through our favourite TV show etc
  • the need to pass on quite particular information in the video

 

Despite these limitations, it’s still possible to shift interviewees away from appearing just as ‘talking heads’ delivering sound bites towards having a more human three-dimensional feel about them. We don’t actually need much character detail in a corporate video but we do need some for viewers to care about what’s being said.

 

So how to achieve these genuine & confident ‘characters’ for your corporate story?

  • share with your selected filmmaker the messaging & comments you have imagined when thinking about the purpose for your video.
  • settle on a shared understanding of the ESSENCE of this messaging with your filmmaker. It’s this ESSENCE that the final video should deliver. How exactly will need time to shape & create.
  • finally, determine with your filmmaker how long you can allow in your project timeline for them to get in touch & speak with your nominated list of contacts.

 

 

From this point on, your filmmaker’s process can get underway.

Here’s 5 opportunities for them to build & deliver authentic characters.

 

1) research through pre-interviews

  • Before pulling out a camera, it’s best your filmmaker has a decent, explorative chat with your nominated interviewees. This allows them to fully understand each interviewee’s opinions & experience without any great time pressure to ‘perform’.
  • The side benefit of this interaction should be to establish some rapport, which will help smooth any navigation of location or availability limitations for the filming.

 

2) identifying a desirable narrative flow upfront

  • Knowing the individual perspectives to have emerged from pre-interviews is a brilliant basis for piecing together a rough narrative flow full of authentic momentum.
  • Sometimes in the pre-interviews it emerges that there are other voices that should also be considered for interview. Your filmmaker should raise these ideas for your consideration.
  • Once all the characters (stakeholder perspectives) have been settled on, your filmmaker can submit an indicative script outline for you to consider in-house before the shoot.

 

3) final prep for the shoot

With script approval in place, your filmmaker will need to confirm interview dates, times & locations. Other logistics & location permissions may need to be arranged too so if a good rapport has been built with each interviewee, your filmmaker will have very helpful partners in doing this.

This final prep also allows your filmmaker to confirm what sort of answers they’ll want from the interview & how they will conduct the interview. This should go a fair way towards soothing any pressure the interviewee might be feeling – especially with those new to the filming process.

 

 

4) the shoot – capturing your ‘characters’

Assuming the first 3 steps have been followed, there should be a calm sense of purpose about the interview. This will help keep them light & loose. Interviewees will understand the gist of what they need to talk about & can focus on saying it in their own way & in their own time. After all, it is their experience & opinions that we want to hear.

Activity involving the interviewee is also important footage to collect, especially at locations relevant to what’ they talk about. It creates a more rounded sense of the person talking & so increases the viewer’s ability to engage with them.

 

5) the edit – finalising an engaging narrative flow with zing!

If the shoot has been based on following an approved script outline, your filmmaker will be well placed to edit together a final narrative flow with all the info needed . Hopefully there’s plenty of colour & emotion in the additional footage to flesh out the characters & strike the right balance between verbal & visual messaging.

Each new comment should move the narrative along without any sense of repetition. Appropriate music used sparingly – rather than as end-to-end like wallpaper – will further strengthen the emotional sense of the characters.

 

Summary

Authentic corporate video storytelling work best when corporate messages are delivered through the honest opinions & feelings of the actual people involved in work highlighted. The firsthand experiences they draw on & how they present themselves can generate in viewers that most valuable of commodities – trust.

Since some people can be apprehensive about appearing on camera regarding their work experience, it’s vital to step through a considered build up to their interview experience. In the end, you will want a cast of confident, articulate characters to deliver your story & messages.

I hope these ideas above help you to understand how that can be achieved.

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