Our core philosophy at Good Eye Deer, is show don’t tell. This system of thought will allow you, as the film maker, to engage the emotions of the viewer and keep them interested in what they are viewing, no matter your content. An audience wants to be involved. They need to be able to think. They need to feel. This show don’t tell philosophy has worked for us on many occasions. Most recently we were asked to produce a promotional film for a Childhood Cancer Research Foundation. Early in development on this project we met with the client to discuss ideas about how to move away from cliche imagery and to show that there is hope for children with cancer.
In this article we will share our experience with the production of The Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation – promotional film. Our goal is to share our experience with this production in order to give you tips for how to show and not tell in a corporate video.
How do you portray a story of hope on the topic of childhood cancer? First we did some research with our client, The Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation (ALCCRF). During our research and creative development stage, we discovered that medical researchers are using the funds raised by the ALCCRF to strive for a 100% cure rate in childhood cancer. There were many success stories of children overcoming cancer due to the latest medical research. One story that stood out for us (and our client, the ALCCRF) came from a little girl called Ava, and her father Tony. Ava was diagnosed with cancer at six months of age – two years on, she is in full remission. Ava’s story of survival is thus a story of hope for other children with cancer. We then blended Ava’s story with expert interviews who each discussed the vital role ALCCRF plays in helping achieve a 100% cure rate for childhood cancer.
There are a number of visual techniques that you, the film maker, can use to convey a sense of emotional integrity. Here are a few examples from the ALCCRF shoot:
– We sought permission from Ava and her parents to film in their home to give weight to the personal touch for this story.
– We filmed clips of other children in the hospital playing with toys or talking with family. We showed what it looked like to be in hospital for a child. We showed that their situation is not ideal, but at the same time, life is not doom-and-gloom. There is colour, life, and hope, even in a hospital.
– We also needed to give the doctors we interviewed status and a sense of connectivity to their patients. We worked within the confines of the doctor’s busy schedules and the time restraints of the hospital. Together with the hospital media staff we turned drab interview rooms into a space that connects the doctors with the patient – the hospital provided us with beautiful patient photos, which we placed behind the doctors we interviewed. This not only left us with directoral integrity, but also a sense of warmth in the shot. Perfect in sustaining the positive message for this film.
– Ask yourself: What is my content? Who is my audience? What is already on the market place and how can my story be different?
– Talk to the client about who they are and how they operate. With questions like this, you are discovering, not what they want, but what they need.
– Research your subject – talk to the client about ideas on how to visually enhance their story. It’s always best to create something that fits inside the client’s ethos – don’t just make something up for the fun of creativity. Make your ideas work for the clients needs.
– Remember that the client is an expert in their field – collaborate with them to enhance the content in your film. Ask them, what contacts do you have? Who is the best person on this topic to interview and why? Then call that recommended participant and make a judgement for yourself – is this the best person for the film?
– Remember everything on screen has purpose, so think about what the story needs to see.
– Ask questions relating to the human side / find the personal story for the topic, don’t just relay the facts.
– And always show your audience the story; don’t tell us what’s happening/happened. To show is to inspire!
– Bob Buckley, ALCCRF, Chairman 2013