THE BLOG

Behind The Scenes on a six-figure branded project

behind the scenes branded content May 23, 2024
Jonny von Wallstrom with GVM 650B

The Reality of Making films for brands

I've been working on a branded series for the past two and a half months. That's why I haven't been active on YouTube. I had to focus on this project to make enough money for next year, so I can relax and focus on YouTube.

In this post, I’ll share what I learned from this six-figure project. I'll give you some tips if you ever get a chance to do something similar. Unfortunately, I can't disclose who the project is for just yet, but I will once it's out and about.

The Scope of Deliverables

When you work on a big project, you need to create many different things. It's not just one video or photo; it's a lot more. Here’s what to expect:

Multiple Versions

Creating multiple versions of your main content is essential. You'll need to make different versions for all the various platforms. This is a hassle. It's not just the story that needs to be changed. They care most about the graphics and branding. So here you gotta be flexible, this could include:

  • Short Clips: a short versions of your content. They are 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or 1 minute long. They are ideal for social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

  • There are different formats. Some are vertical for mobile viewing on platforms like Instagram Stories and TikTok. Others are horizontal for YouTube and TV. Ensuring your content is optimized for each platform increases its reach and engagement.

  • But the big thing to have in mind is that they will be very picky about the branding. So these versions take some time to make.

Photography

High-quality photography is crucial for a successful big project. Besides videos, you need to take pro photos. They can be used for many things:

  • Advertisements: Photos for print and online ads.

  • Social Media: Engaging images for social media posts and stories.

  • Thumbnails: More important than ever.

  • Website Content: High-resolution images for the brand’s website and promotional materials.

Additional Deliverables

Think beyond the main content. Add value to create a full project package. Brands might request:

  • Behind the scenes: They are great for social media and engaging the audience. Detailed videos about the production process.

  • Case video: Brands want to win prices. Making case videos are the best way to show how great the project is.

  • Teaser Videos: Short and intriguing. They are made to build anticipation before the main content is released.

The Art of the Pitch

Getting a big project starts with a great pitch. The pitching process can take at least two to three weeks. Here’s what you need to do:

Developing the Story

Your pitch should clearly tell the story you want to create. A strong story is the backbone of your project. Ensure it aligns with the brand’s identity and message by:

  • Researching the Brand: Understand the brand’s values, target audience, and overall message. Ask a lot of questions to help you understand this.

  • Create a Compelling Narrative: Make a story that resonates with the brand’s audience. It should clearly convey the message. Base it on what they want but put your flair into it.

Creating Storyboards

Draw detailed storyboards to visually represent your vision. This helps the client understand what the final product will look like. Today I do this with AI. It can take some time to get it right, but it gets very close to what I imagine. I mainly use Midjourney and Dalle for this. Include:

  • Scene-by-Scene Breakdown: Illustrations or images depicting each scene to show the flow of the story.

  • Key Elements: Highlight important aspects like camera angles, lighting, and special effects. They care the most about the brand exposure so really focus on making that natural.

Planning Production

Explain your production plan in detail. This shows the client you’re prepared and capable of executing the project. Include:

  • Location Scouting: Identify and secure filming locations that enhance the story.

  • Equipment Needs: List all necessary equipment, such as cameras, lighting, and sound gear.

  • Crew Requirements: Detail the team members required for production, including roles like director, cinematographer, and sound technician.

Casting

Suggest potential cast members and explain why they’re a good fit. This could include actors or real people, depending on the project’s needs. Consider:

  • Talent Alignment: Choose individuals who align with the brand’s image and can authentically convey the story.

  • Diverse Representation: Ensure a diverse cast that reflects the brand’s audience.

  • Pre-Interviews: I always do pre-interviews on the phone so I can understand as much as I can about the personal stories before creating my story. Base it in reality and then make it cinematic.

Understanding the Brand

When pitching to big brands, you need to know exactly what they want. Here’s how:

Brand Identity

Research and understand the brand’s values, audience, and identity. Your pitch should reflect this understanding by:

  • Aligning with Brand Values: Show how your project will uphold and promote the brand’s core values.

  • Target Audience: Demonstrate how your content will appeal to the brand’s target audience.

Client Feedback

Be ready to change and improve your pitch based on feedback. This ensures you’re meeting their expectations:

  • Iterative Process: Expect multiple rounds of feedback and be prepared to make adjustments.

  • Open Communication: Maintain clear and open communication with the client to understand their needs and preferences.

The Importance of Flexibility

Flexibility is crucial when working on big projects. Although this project was supposed to take one month, it ended up taking three months. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Extended Timelines

Projects often take longer than expected. Even though the budget seems big, the longer timeline can make it feel like you’re not getting paid as much:

  • Time Management: Plan for potential delays and have contingency plans in place.

  • Budget Management: Ensure the budget accommodates extended timelines and additional costs.

Overlapping Tasks

Be prepared for tasks to overlap and change. Flexibility helps manage these changes better:

  • Adaptive Scheduling: Be ready to adjust your schedule as needed to accommodate unexpected changes.

  • Multitasking: Develop the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously without compromising quality.

Managing Expectations

Keep the client informed about possible delays and changes. This helps maintain a good working relationship:

  • Regular Updates: Provide frequent updates on the project’s progress and any potential issues.

  • Transparent Communication: Be honest about challenges and how you plan to address them.

Personal Experiences

What was your favorite part of this project?

This was a fun project because I was working with athletes, which I like. They inspire me, and I work out a lot, probably between 14 and 20 hours a week, which pretty much makes me an elite athlete. Not in results, but in ambition. So working with athletes feels like working with my hobby.

Did you face any unexpected challenges? How did you overcome them?

Dealing with athletes, artists, or any celebrities is usually a huge logistical nightmare. It’s hard to book meetings, get them to answer, and get them to prioritize you and what you’re doing. That is always the main issue with these types of characters. This project was no different. It was hard to get answers and archive footage. It was also hard to get them to go the extra mile in delivering what we needed to tell the best story about them.

What inspired your story idea for this project?

Since I am an athlete myself, I draw a lot of my own inspiration from my experiences. I know a lot about endurance sports, which this campaign was about. I understand the complex details of athletes' lives. I know how they prioritize, train, and what they value—all those things. This view makes it easy for me to talk about these projects. I'm talking to my former self, from before I knew these things.

Can you share a funny or memorable moment from the production?

One funny moment during production was disastrous. I dropped my loupe in the lake where we were shooting. It was a bright summer day, and we were out on the lake. Just as we were taking off, my loop, which was magnetically attached to my screen, fell into the lake. Initially, it wasn’t a problem, but as the day got brighter, it became difficult to see the screen. I had to adapt and rely on my experience to manually focus despite barely seeing the screen. It worked out, but it was a challenging and scary moment, especially with clients and a lot of money on the line.

How did you manage the extended timeline?

Unfortunately, this often means that my YouTube channel takes a hit. But I knew that if I only do this project, I will have a safety net for the next year. The budget is big enough. So, I can just relax and focus on the YouTube channel afterward. I had to just accept that reality.

What did you learn about the brand that surprised you?

It always surprises me how little brands and marketing agencies know. They know little about the intricate details of working with social media. I know so much about all the levels of social media because I work with both YouTube and Facebook. I create organic content, tell stories, edit, and publish. I market with ads, work with brands, and manage regular stories. The new era of filmmakers will understand all these levels. They are social media-centric. But, traditional agencies control much of the promotional budgets. They know so little about these things. Realizing that you are ahead in this knowledge can be quite surprising.

How did the feedback from the client shape the final product?

There’s always a challenge when you’re telling a story and trying to minimize brand exposure. You want it to feel natural, so people notice the brand without it feeling like an obvious commercial. I plan for brand exposure in the script and storyboard to make it feel natural within the narrative. However, brands often push for more exposure, which can make it feel too commercial. The challenge is to get them to understand that subtlety is better for organic content. In this project, it became easier because I put it in the story. But, there was still too much brand exposure.

What advice would you give to someone pitching their first big project?

The key thing is to learn to pitch and to understand how long and hard it can be. You need to know the language to use and what the brand and agency are looking for. Capture the aesthetics and philosophy of the brand in your idea. Your pitch has to satisfy both the brand and the agency to get approval. Balance these needs and learn to pitch the right way, as that is the key to landing big projects.

Conclusion

Big projects offer great opportunities for creativity and growth. Understand the scope of deliverables. Master the pitch. Align with the brand’s identity. Then, you can succeed. Remember, it’s all about delivering great quality while staying true to the brand’s vision.

I hope these insights help you if you ever get the chance to work on a big project. Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes content and tips from my experiences!

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