In this opinion piece, Mike Cardillo (pictured below), co-founder, executive creator director and resident frustrated soul at Sydney-based production company Sixteen Corners, argues why making a video for the sake of making a video will never do, and offers some words of wisdom to those looking to create a clip.
So, the solution to every marketing, comms, HR and business problem ever is to create more video, right?
The beautiful, wonderful thing about the internet is that anyone can publish content. And the awful, maddening thing about the internet is that anyone can publish content.
There is so much audiovisual noise out there already that your Facebook News Feed auto-plays videos with their sound off, lest you be perpetually inundated with the blare of The Voice auditions, prank videos and Carpool Karaoke. We are digital shipwreck victims, clinging to our mobile devices like lifebuoys, floating on an open ocean of endless damn video content.
The only rational response – stop making shitty videos.
Why you watch anything, ever
When it comes down to it, there’s only one reason why anyone wants to watch your video. Irrespective of the subject. Irrespective of the channel. Irrespective of what anyone else thinks.
To feel something.
Michael Hauge said it best: “People do not go to the movies to think; they go to the movies to feel. You can make them think, but only after you’ve given them an emotional experience.”
The reason why you go to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night and plonk down your hard-fought earnings – whether you realise it or not – is because you are procuring for yourself an emotional experience. Tonight, I want to laugh. Or cry. Or be thrilled, scared, awed. It doesn’t matter what you watch – you’re there, aching to feel.
It’s why the question we inevitably ask our loved one/flatmate/Tinder match/friend whenever we fire up Netflix is, ‘What do you feel like?’ Feel being the operative word.
And your feelings, whilst tickled occasionally by the savvy marketers behind Old Spice or Dove or Heineken, are so neglected by the vast majority of content creators that you’re more likely to enter a speed-clicking competition on that ‘Skip Ad’ button than watch an entire YouTube pre-roll commercial once those five seconds are over.
We are but slaves to indifference
Martin Weigel, in his iconic presentation The Conquest of Indifference, says that “Our task is not nurturing enthusiasm, but overcoming indifference”. And amongst the chatter of 300 hours being uploaded to YouTube every minute, that indifference is growing exponentially.
The antidote to indifference will always be to shake people awake with sheer, impassioned appeals – but to the heart, not the mind.
Student of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume declared: “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”
No matter how great your product, brand or fun new workplace initiative, making a video for the sake of making a video will never do, no matter how well articulated the greatness of said thingy. Explanations are best left for textbooks and people sitting in the exit rows on airplanes.
Don’t storyboard – interrogate
Before creating any piece of video, there are essentially only two questions worth asking, and neither has anything to do with budget or brief.
- Does the subject inherently connect to an emotion?
- If not, can it?
If the answer to either question is yes, then congratulations, you are soon to be the proud parent of your very own video. If no, then you probably have yourself a PowerPoint deck or email newsletter.
The first question is always the most crucial, as it connects not with a product or list of features, but rather with the beating heart of why. Why we want it. Why we need it. Why we use it.
But not all subjects lend themselves to obvious emotional entry points, so our job – as artists, clients, creators –is to craft one, whether it has a damn thing to do with the subject or not.
Because a great video provokes, tantalises, enrages, overjoys. It makes you glad for watching, rather than watching the progress bar.
A great video demands to be watched… and a great video will be.