TOP 5

THE TOP 5 RULES FOR EFFECTIVE FILM COMMUNICATION

Film-making isn’t cheap. Or quick. And there are so many variables. Click below to reveal the top 5 rules to getting it right before shoot day.

1. Show, don't tell.

Film is first and foremost a visual medium.

“Show, don’t tell” is the foundation of all effective film craft.

At script stage, many corporate communicators consider the visuals as simply the platform for what they want to say. So they over-focus on what they can control: the facts, the core messaging. Almost always, that’s carried in the sound.

The true test of any film is to watch with the sound off. See what the pictures are saying to you. If the basics of what’s happening are not coming through without sound, the film’s communication is flawed.

Film is the only medium that engages 100% attention. Together, sound and vision create a unique mood and dynamic that anchors and embeds content with viewers.

Viewers always remember more of what they saw than what they heard. But more than anything, they remember how the film made them feel.

2. Frame your message in a story.

Stories are equipment for living.

They’re fundamental to the way humans learn and relate.

An audience viewing a film (any film, whether it’s a movie, documentary, TV ad or corporate video) keeps watching because of one thing only: the desire to know what happens next.

So that desire must be set up. Sustained. And paid off, through story. If not, you lose your audience.

The best films arrest attention surprisingly, interestingly. Then deliver a compelling and empathetic story in a way the audience didn’t expect.

There is no more effective vehicle for your messaging than well-constructed story.

3. Focus on out-take, not input.

A good brief for a corporate film or ad will list communication objectives (input).

But over-focus on features, benefits or the corporate message risks talking AT audiences, not TO them.

So a good writer will approach the task focused on delivering meaning (out-take).

He’ll start by defining the audience. Understanding them. And knowing exactly what he wants them to think, feel and do as a result of the viewing experience.

Consider this analogy:

A good salesman (of cars, for example) will always engage and “qualify” a prospect, by asking her questions. In doing this, he is mapping the prospect’s emotional touch-points: her tastes, preferences and priorities. This enables him to shape his presentation of the features and benefits of what he’s selling, in a way that has the most meaning to her.

Persuasive communication via film is no different.

4. Don't under-develop the script.

The hardest part of effective film-making is not the shoot.

It’s getting to a tight, strong, final (or “locked”) shooting script. Even in Hollywood. Especially in Hollywood!

In corporate communication, there’s only one way to make this step easier: start with a brief that’s robust, coherent and concise.

Such briefs are all too rare, usually due to time poverty. So successive drafts of the script are often used to refine the brief. But this elongates the process and distracts from craft, so a good writer will always help refine the brief before starting the script.

Hemingway said “the first draft of anything is sh*t”. Hence the truism “all writing is rewriting”. Few scripts are polished with less than 5 or 6 drafts. Often more.

You need to allow time for proper development.

A lean, concise script, honed and stripped back over multiple drafts, is like a perfect sculpture patiently exposed from within a block of stone.

Invariably, it translates well to film in the hands of a good Director.

5. Invest in production values.

Production values are all the subtle elements of film craft that help keep you watching:

The lighting. The framing. The camera moves. The sets. The props. The music. The actors. All are carefully chosen to support the meaning of the film.

Everyone who watches your film has a vast visual frame of reference. They’ve seen all the big-screen blockbusters. And the Oscar winners.

So visually, the viewing experience you offer will generally pale by comparison. That’s a given.

The only question is to what degree.

So to make your film well worth watching, don’t under-fund it.

Structure your budget to put the most possible money on the screen.

The elements that make up production values take time to set up.

But the better they look, the better you will ultimately look.

VALUE

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Film Communication adds value. Intellectually. Practically. Creatively.

And economically, by combining the functions of Writer and Director.

We’ll develop a deep understanding of your corporate and commercial culture.

We relish subjects that are complex, contentious, cross-cultural, political or otherwise charged or sensitive.

We invest time and effort in defining, refining and understanding your audiences.

We’ll working directly with you (or your specialist issues management consultants) to develop, write, direct, produce and deliver the vision.

We’re flexible. We can work with your existing production supplier in the realisation of a vision. Or introduce new production options and outfits best suited to your particular task.

Our networks are local, regional and global.

EXPERIENCE

Film Communication was founded by Julian Smith, whose approach uniquely combines 3 roles:

Communication strategist. Writer. And Director.

Encouraged to direct by the legendary Bruce Beresford while an award-winning Advertising Creative Director, Julian’s experience doing voice-overs and stand-up comedy gave him an excellent understanding of performance and timing.

Eliciting superior performances from non-actors, presenters and kids in both commercials and corporate videos is a particular strength.

Film Communication works in all screen genres of persuasive communication, for internal and external audiences: corporate, public awareness, orientation, publicity, sales, training, and information films.

And, of course, TV ads, virals and short-form films.

Based in Sydney Australia, we serve companies and organisations seeking to influence their internal and external audiences, throughout the countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

And beyond.

ASIA

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Asia is different.

Different sensibilities. Values. Ways of doing business. Interpersonal relationship cues.

We are sensitive to the mores and protocols of creating effective communication for, and in, Asia. We understand when and why Asians can often say “yes”, when they actually mean “no”.

We have specific experience in communication around politically (especially environmentally) sensitive enterprises and projects within, and beyond, Asia.

We have created films in Japanese, Mandarin, Indonesian and Korean, for audiences in those markets – often from Australia.

With considerable experience in shooting in many different parts of Asia, we can save time and money by tapping into local production resources, while initiating and controlling the process from anywhere.

All of which makes Film Communication the logical, flexible and prudent choice by multi-national companies operating throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Invitation: “How Asia is different” is our brief, insightful outline to the peculiar protocols of communicating in Asia. For a copy, email us via the Action (contact) tab.

WATCH

Julian’s dialogue montage

If you watch only one thing, watch Julian’s DIALOGUE MONTAGE. Key moments from 25 different, unrelated TV commercials all written* and directed by him are woven into an entertaining narrative that demonstrates a breadth of experience. *Julian did not write the Holden commercial.

Shell

Filmed in Brisbane Australia. The “Dick and Barry” campaign for Shell oil was one of the most enduring and successful campaigns with automotive enthusiasts in the fuel/oil category. Julian wrote and directed the last 5 commercials in the series.

HCF

Filmed in Sydney, Australia. Despite being blighted by a surfeit of mandated supers, this is a simple, charming and economical TVC.

Mainland Cheese

Filmed in Takanaki, New Zealand and Sydney Australia. Julian Smith conceived, wrote, cast and directed the original series of Mainland “Cheesemakers” TV commercials, in a campaign that went on to establish Mainland as Australia’s number one cheese brand. It became Australia’s longest running, best loved and most successful dairy campaign ever.

Famous Grouse

Filmed near Perth, Scotland. One of a series of TVCs shot on a rapid “hit and run” production schedule in Scotland, this spot was written opportunistically, the night prior to shooting. It utilised two local amateur talent (a farmer and a forest ranger). Completed in just 8 takes, it demonstrates that, in the right hands,…

Dr LeWinn’s

A cosmetic commercial in which the talent, Murray Bingham, had no previous experience as a presenter to camera (unlike his wife).

Forest Industries

Filmed in NSW, Australia. Julian wrote the original two-tiered Forest Industries communication strategy, all the Forest Industries TV commercials and directed most of them. On a resources-to-results basis, this was the most successful public awareness campaign in Australian corporate communication history, elevating public support for Forest Industries from 34% to 76% in 6 years (Source:…

Synthes
(corporate video excerpt)

Synthes Employee orientation video. (Filmed in Australia, China and Japan. Post-produced in Sydney and finished in English and multiple Asian language versions) Synthes (now DePuy Synthes, following takeover by J&J) is a fast-growing multi-national Swiss/US medical supply company supplying implants for broken bones to surgeons. This film was designed to orient new employees to the…

APP
(corporate video excerpt)

Filmed throughout Java and Sumatra, post-produced in Jakarta in English and Bahasa versions. Asia Pulp and Paper, an Indonesian multi-national company, commissioned Julian to write and direct a series of factual films to persuade their global audiences that APP’s Indonesian paper products were sustainably manufactured, from renewable resources (APP tree plantations).

PLAUDITS

“I’ve had the great pleasure of partnering with Julian on a number of film projects. His grasp of any audience, together with his unique blend of creativity and sensitivity, enable him to create films that are both powerfully emotive and delightfully unexpected. Julian is an artful scriptwriter, a talented film director, an astute communicator… and his Donald Duck impression is priceless!”

Alison de Lorm,
Regional Communications Director,
DePuy Synthes Asia Pacific

“Julian? More ideas than Scheherezade. And usually they’re better.”

Michael Williams, Founder,
Serendipity Brandmakers London.

“We acknowledge your professionalism and focus on our business and have no doubt that clients in future will be well served by your talent!”

James Atkins,
(former) Marketing Manager,
Shell Australia.

“His well-developed sense of the ridiculous underpins a sound knowledge base in a way that invariably holds the attention. For truly effective communication, get Julian involved.”

Melissa Richardson, Founder,
Horizons Unlimited, Sydney

“Julian’s ability to get to the heart of the message and then tap emotion resulted in a film that was pivotal in the outstanding success of our capital appeal.”

Roni Faktor, Director,
The Montefiore Home

“If you can’t get Clive James, get Julian Smith.”

Peter Perkins,
National Farmers Federation.

“Writer, Film Director, Creative Director, communicator – brilliant at all of them, and funny too. Julian’s record speaks for itself.”

Ron Barnacle, Director,
Clemenger Group Ltd, Australia.

“Julian is one of the few astute and truly creative communication strategists in Australia today who specialises in film. He brings good will, flair and intelligence to the task.”

Brian Tanti, Founder,
Autohorizon Foundation, Melbourne.

“Julian did an outstanding job as Writer/Director – especially as the goal posts kept changing.”

Stephanie Shaw, (former) Director of Staff and Customer Education and Training, Synthes Asia-Pacific, Singapore.

ACTION!

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Let’s discuss your most pressing communication issue and your most difficult audience.

Or write to Julian Smith direct:
julian@filmcommunication.com

Call +61 419-103234

Film Communication Sydney Australia.

Your story, told better on screen, by a Writer/Director.