Have you ever walked away from a theater and thought, “Man that movie sucked! How could they spend that much time and money and not know it was going to suck?!”
Have you ever asked yourself why the movie didn’t succeed? What makes a movie succeed in the first place?
Rather than tackle a full length film, it would be easier to answer this question by dissecting small films that we see dozens, if not hundreds, of everyday. I’m talking of course about commercial advertising. After all, ads need to have a story in order to tell their message. The fact is, it’s a lot harder to tell a full story in thirty or sixty seconds than it is two hours.
First, lets watch what I would label two unsuccessful ads:
Technically there is nothing wrong with these ads. There are well shot, good graphics, talent is friendly and not distracting and overall they are telling truthful information. So what’s the problem?
Before I answer that, lets look at what I would label two great ads:
What is the difference?
Let’s look at the cell phone ads first. In the Cellcom ad, we hear a bunch of information about apps and prices, which is fine, but nothing makes me interested in the product or company. In the iPhone commercial, I see practical applications of a specific feature on the phone. Notice how they don’t talk about how the phone is faster or has a better camera, even though that is all true. They focus on one thing that is emotionally relateable to their customer base.
In the car ads, the first one talks about pricing, APR, blah blah blah… The second one talks about what the passion and drive of the company is. They want to make an awesome car. They don’t care about trying to get you on the lowest price or best deal. They know what they are passionate about and that’s what they are selling. If you want an awesome car, buy a Lexus, otherwise go somewhere else. It’s a simple message but it stays with you.
You can take this simple concept and apply it to filmmaking as well. When telling a story, you need to be connecting in an emotional and relateable way. This should be evident in every level of the production: the story, cinematography, lighting, acting, props, wardrobe, makeup, music, edit, etc. You have to make an emotional connection with your audience otherwise they will not care enough to stick around or be interested in watching it again. So many videomakers fail by trying to shove pure information down people’s throat without running it through the filter of emotional relevance. Less is often more and if you can allow your audience to connect on one simple point, you’ll be much more successful than spewing out loads of content that they don’t care about.
Let me know if you found this article helpful and what your thoughts are in the comments below. I only lightly covered this topic here, but if you are more interested in making successful videos, especially for advertising and making money, check out our new training series Video Business 101: How to Make Money in Video Production.