Insight by Richard Thomson

As part of our series on the most effective video strategies for business, we have pulled together 10 tips to recruit staff with film – as well as engaging your colleagues. Part One deals with setting up your film for success, while here in Part Two we cover the business end of the process: shooting the film/s. In Part 3 we will look at getting the most from your recruitment films in the post-production stage.

1. Make it authentic

One of the most common errors in corporate film-making is writing the script for interviews in advance. Avoid this unless you are lucky enough to have colleagues who are brilliant actors.

So instead of telling contributors the exact words to say, use an interview setup to ask them questions that lead them to speak naturally.

Research is the key to ensuring that when the cameras roll, the director knows what they want the contributors to say. The director asking questions off-camera is a tried and tested way to interview. This applies to an interview on Graham Norton, to a talking head on Panorama and to your film.

The subject’s performance on camera is key too. The contributor must come across as natural, authentic, genuine. An experienced director will get this, and a really good one will get unexpected nuggets from the interview that will make the film feel really special. They could be moments of warmth, pain or humour that enhance the narrative like this film we made for Carphone Warehouse.

If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is. It’s hard to coax a great interview because most of us are not naturals on camera. Add corporate management structures into the mix, and you’ve got a risky situation where a senior manager might come across badly on camera, reflecting badly on you as the comms manager. You don’t want to go there.

This is why many experienced comms professionals prefer to use an experienced crew and director. The stakes can be too high to get it wrong.

2. Share feelings and emotions

Film is a great medium for connecting emotionally with audiences. It creates emotional bonds between your brand and the audience, and people are more likely to share emotional content.

But to do this you need to get compelling content from your people. Personal stories are a great way of doing this. People remember stories and the way they made them feel longer than they remember facts and figures.

In particular, ask people questions that about their feelings. How did that make you feel? Why is that important to you?

People relate to feelings. Also when people are talking about their feelings they tend to be more animated and expressive on camera – which makes the film not only more powerful, but also more watchable.

3. Location, location, location

We are often asked to film interviews, and are then given a small office room to film the interview, with the obligatory potted plant in the background. They almost always look dull and grey on camera and they won’t help you recruit staff.

Very few broadcast interviews are shot in small office rooms as TV crews know this will look dull. A better option is filming in unexpected office locations, like the office stairwell or the roof. It is less expected for the viewer, so it tends to keep the audience’s attention longer, even if what is being said is exactly the same as in the small dull office.

If must be a room in your building, then generally the bigger the better. Space allows the director to add more depth and perspective to the shot and potentially light and dress the room to be more visually interesting.

Another option is to film away from the office completely. If you can, make it somewhere relevant to the interviewee and the story, like their home or a place that’s relevant to a hobby featured in the film. This film we made for Middlesex University with one of their lecturers is a good example of where taking them away from their office environment added to the story.

4. Use cutaways

Without cutaways you could be relying primarily on talking heads. Pure talking heads can be watchable (more so if you make the background interesting as in point 3), and it is possible to jump cut or use quick dissolves from one sound bite to another. But general interview sequences are helped massively by additional cutaways.

Cutaways add pace and visual interest for the viewer – subliminally keeping them more interested and engaged with the film. They work because in real-life conversations, we don’t stare non-stop at the person who’s speaking. Cutaways mimic that reflex to look away briefly while listening.

Cutaways also enhance the story by giving extra information that isn’t offered by just the talking head interviews. Our brains are hard-wired to blend different sensory inputs simultaneously. Associating images and sound, when done expertly, is hugely powerful.

And, as with the interview, a really good director will spot moments and cutaways that bring something extra and special to the film. The best cutaways might not be the obvious ones because viewers are engaged more by surprising associations than predictable ones.

These are just some of the filming techniques you can use to recruit staff. For the full picture, click here to ask a question or look out for Part 3 of our blog series, which will show you what to do at the edit stage.

Richard Thomson

Richard is CEO of Kaptcha. He cut his teeth at the BBC, where he directed some of their biggest and most engaging shows including Top Gear, Crimewatch and Holiday. Bringing these skills to the corporate world, he then launched the multi award-winning HSBC TV. Today he harnesses the power of film to tell the engaging stories behind the brands, creating real change in the way audiences – internal and external - feel and think.

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