Posts Tagged ‘fundraising video’

Corporate Video Production: An Idea A Day: Day 11

December 13, 2011

Another way a Corporate Video Client Utilized the Documentary Genre

Yesterday I talked about a client who came to us anew with a documentary in hand that still needed a good amount of editing. Today I want to focus on a long-time client that recognized the value that a short documentary might bring.

Here’s how it started: A nonprofit staffed with creative folks had the idea to sponsor a three-day bike-a-thon along the Jersey Shore in honor of the birthday of one of its staff members. It was a last-minute idea which they shared with friends. Unfortunately, it was so last minute that only a handful of people agreed to participate, with each raising funds from supporters for the organization.

Having a fundraiser unbeknownst to an audience of funders is not a particularly promising formula, which is where the idea of a documentary arose. We sent two cameras to follow the bike riders in a shooting style that was reminiscent of reality TV shows. Our cameras were perched on the open window of our car driving adjacent to the bikers; they were sitting on tripods that had been positioned before the arrival of the bikers in specific spots as well as set to capture shots that were tracking them from behind. We had hand-held shots from every different angle and even miniature cameras attached to bicycles. At the end of each day we interviewed the bikers about the experience, why they chose to participate, and the importance of the cause.

We wove the story together chronologically, replete with little dramas that unfolded, like a flat tire in the middle of a huge rainstorm. We created a 15-minute documentary that was fun to watch but also packed with information, albeit in a subtle way, about the value of the nonprofit that motivated the event.

Our client used the film for internal fundraising purposes as well as to generate interest in future trips. Based on other experiences we have had, we imagine they would have had success at some local film festivals in the “short documentary” category, but their limited resources precluded them from diving into those time-consuming waters. At the very least, the fundraiser reached a lot more ears and hearts than those of the small number of riders and their supporters. With all the fun that potential bike riders learned they missed, I’m guessing the next such event will be sold out!



Corporate Video Production: An Idea A Day: Day 9

December 9, 2011

Last in the series of nonprofit video productions that I have written about this week, today’s blog is not accompanied by video because it focuses on a client who runs a battered women’s shelter. This is a sticky area for video: Always reliant on substantial funding, organizations like this require video to make emotionally moving points, yet ensuring the absolute privacy of their beneficiaries is paramount. Our video production company was delighted to have the challenge of aligning these seemingly contradictory needs.

We advised the client to focus solely on the stories of three of their clients. We understood that the video would have impact if viewers got wrapped up in the unfolding of events as told by the women who underwent them. No statement by an executive of the organization telling viewers in a third party way about their clients’ tales of violence or directly making a pitch for funding would be nearly as effective as hearing the obvious needs from the victims.

Finding the spokeswomen, of course, was up to our client. They opted for two women who had already had successful outcomes in their experiences with the organization and were now on their own as well as a third who was newly admitted to the shelter. The first two were comfortable being seen on camera with the understanding that the video would only be screened to a select group of donors. They were extremely grateful for the help they had received and felt that they would have talked to the contributors in person if asked, so video was a natural extension. The third woman wanted to remain anonymous. For the purposes of the production, however, we did not want the screen to simply be black while viewers listened to her voice. Rather, we interviewed her in a room that we set up with bare lighting that put her in a dark shadow, completely unrecognizable. We knew that in the final video we edited, the viewer would be able to see some movement as she moved her arms, for instance. It would be enough to keep an audience fixated on the screen at the same time as they heard her relate the frightening circumstances that had given rise to her decision to reach out to the shelter. Indeed, the shadowy backdrop would add to the drama of her story.

We were also cognizant that for this video to be successful, we would need the women to open themselves up in emotionally challenging ways — on camera! It is a complex art of interviewing to get beyond the superficialities of a first meeting in a short time and dive so deeply into a person’s heart that she (in this case) feels comfortable enough to reveal some of her most vulnerable memories. That was the task before us, for which we are able to lean on our vast experience in documentary production around the world interviewing a broad range of people in different cultures who confront countless types of situations. Yet every situation, every person, is different. Sometimes the right approach is difficult to gauge. Particularly in situations like these, each person must be treated tenderly and empathetically; at the same time, we need to be focused constantly on getting the sound bites and eliciting the emotions that will be effective in the final script and expressed in a way that will ensure smooth cuts in the editing stage.

The video we ultimately created had three segments of under two minutes each, one segment for each of the women. The opening faded from black to the name of the first woman the client wanted to highlight. Dissolving out of the black to a close-up of her face, the viewer was able to see the intensity of her eyes as her story unraveled. At its end, the screen again went to black, then immediately up to the name of the second woman, with the same pattern for the third, whose identity was written in an anonymous way. Some necessary cuts to accomplish the storytelling succinctly yet passionately required b-roll cover-up with the two women who agreed to be seen on camera. We were able to videotape a small amount of b-roll after each interview, and they provided us with a few personal photos to use. Cuts with the woman cast in shadows did not require b-roll cover; the dissolves between shots were so subtle that they were unrecognizable, and the viewer stayed focused on the scary screen image.

We received excellent reports from our client about the effectiveness of this fundraising video after they screened it privately to their select group of prospective donors. We are confident that it was successful, since a few weeks later, a member of that group called us for a quote for another organization with which she was involved!