The Exciting World of Making Docs for Brands

behind the scenes branded content documentary filmmaking Mar 26, 2024
Jonny von Wallstrom

Telling Real Adventure Stories

I make documentaries for brands, like the ones for Craft Sportswear. It's super fun. I get to tell stories about big adventures. Imagine capturing how Tim Tollefson races up huge mountains like Mont Blanc.

But it’s not just about how far he runs; it’s about showing his courage and the hard work he puts in. These stories make people see brands in a cool, new way, like they’re part of these big adventures. Branded documentary stories are magical. Not just the stories themselves, but the fact that brands get linked to what their customers dream of being.

Sharing the Real Stuff

I love mixing my love for telling true stories with what makes a brand special. It’s not just about the happy moments. I think it’s really important to show the tough times too. This makes the story feel more real and gets people to care more. Like when Tim feels like giving up but keeps going. That’s the stuff that makes these stories super interesting.

Most brands fear this. They fear showing their realness or failures. I see this as a soulless pursuit of looking good. And who cares for a brand that lacks an identity?

Bringing You Along for the Ride

With Craft Sportswear, I make videos for their YouTube channel. We share all kinds of adventures. But we run the channel for them, doing everything from ad placement to managing the channel.

The best part of this is making videos that don’t feel like regular ads. Since I've made ads for over 20 years I know this industry far too well. I still can't get how people think that disturbing them with annoying commercials is the best way to do marketing. They are ads they want to click away from.

Most of the adcampaigns I've done, the agencies or brands don't expect to get more than 20-30 seconds average view duration. But how is it we can get 5-6 minutes of AVD on these ads?

Well, it's cause it's actually stuff people want to see. With the brand natively embedded into that. I try to make you feel like you’re right there with Tim, feeling the cold air and working hard to keep going. And since he's sponsored by Craft Sportswear, it's not brain surgery to get the brand into it.

But, making these stories takes a lot of work. I constantly need to look at the statistics and try to find new ways to share stories that touch your heart. That’s what keeps me excited about making more movies. So, if you like hearing about big adventures or running, you’ll like these stories. I’ve got lots more to share, and they’ll be awesome.

Making Awesome Movies with Brands

Telling Stories That Touch the Heart

When I get to make ads for brands that are like the cool stuff for Craft Sportswear. It feels like we're bringing real hero stories to everyone. What makes these stories super special isn't just what you see; it’s about keeping it real. This realness is what makes everyone feel connected. It's like they're part of the adventure too.

Finding Stories That Make You Excited

First up, we look for stories that are so exciting, you can't help but get pumped. It could be about Tim trying to beat his best time. Or, it could be a quiet moment where he's getting ready. You can see how focused he is. We start with a big question or a mystery to make you really curious about what’s going to happen.

Getting Into the Details

It's the little things in the story that matter a lot. For example, we should show how hard Tim works or how tough the race is, not just showing him running. Focusing on those tough moments and showing his grit helps you feel close to him. You feel every step.

The Brand Is Part of the Story

We also make sure the brand feels like it’s part of the adventure. For example, Tim shows how his gear from Craft Sportswear helps him face big challenges. This makes the brand seem important and helpful. It’s like the brand is helping him get through the adventure, not just something he wears. But we don't do much of the traditional ad pushing, the brand is just part of his life.

Tim Tollefson's Big Adventure: A Movie Study


Tim Tollefson and Jonny von Wallstrom hanging out between filming.

The Big Adventure Story

Making a movie about Tim Tollefson's huge race was like going on a big adventure with him. It wasn’t just a normal run; it was a huge challenge with mountains and everything. We wanted to show how brave and strong Tim was, not just with his legs, but with his heart too.

The Ups and Downs

We started the movie with Tim getting ready to race, looking excited but also a bit nervous. This was how we made everyone watching become interested right away. We showed all the hard parts of the race, like when Tim was really tired or when he thought he might not finish. These tough times made the story even better because they showed how hard Tim was trying.

Making It Feel Real

We used close-up shots of his face to make you feel like you were there with Tim when things got really hard. We also chose music that helped show how he was feeling. This way, you could almost feel his heartbeat and how much he wanted to keep going.

We also showed how Tim’s gear from Craft Sportswear helped him a lot. It was like his special tool to help him beat the mountains. This made the brand look super cool because it was like a hero helping Tim. But again, not in a pushy way. I believe that just making your brand logo visible and appealing on your clothing is enough to pique interest. Otherwise, in my opinion, you have not succeeded.

Making an Ending, You'll Remember

And the ending? It’s got to be something that sticks with you. Seeing Tim finish the race with a huge smile or feeling that sense of victory is what we aim for. We want to leave you feeling inspired and maybe even thinking about your own “race” or challenge.

But for that to work, he needs to suffer. Otherwise, the audience won't care.

In making these branded content, it’s all about telling stories. The stories are full of real feelings and big adventures. We want to make movies that show off what makes a brand cool. They should also share stories that make you feel something deep. This is the point of making movies with brands. It's about sharing great stories that everyone will remember.

Making Friends with Brands Through Cool Stories

How to Make Stories Brands Love

Getting a "yes" from brands for our stories can be super exciting. It’s like finding the perfect puzzle piece that fits just right. If a brand is all about making super strong shoes, I’ll find a story about someone doing something tough. For example, running a very long race. It’s like telling the brand, “See, this story is just like what you’re all about.”

But beware, most brands I've worked with over the years don't want to tell great stories. They just want to sell stuff. Understand these dynamics and that you're a tool to do just that. A marketing manager might love what you do. But, that doesn't mean his boss can convince the board it's a good idea to waste money on your story.

Talking and Making Friends with Brands

First, I talk to the people at the brand. I try to feel how much they understand this world and what they want to accomplish. I try telling them, “People love stories that are real, where things get tough but we keep going.”

I explain that these stories make us feel close to the person in them. They also make us remember the brand in a good way. This is because they feel true and brave. It’s about showing the brand how real stories can make people care more. Then you just listen to their answers. They will guide you in how to structure your idea so it fits them and your artistic vision.

The Brand Is Like a Helping Hand in the Story

Then, I make sure the brand fits into the story in a natural way. It’s not just about showing a pair of shoes; it’s about showing how those shoes are part of the big adventure. For real, they have to actually help the runner keep going when it gets really hard. This makes the brand look like a hero that’s helping out.

Making a Story Everyone Wants to Talk About

Many brands don't fully understand the algorithms. They are used to buying traffic. I showed Craft Sportswear how we can target specific search terms on YouTube. These terms have high traffic.

I did research to show how much people are interested in these topics. Then, Craft Sportswear identified which ones are relevant to their brand. Our back-and-forth discussion led to the creation of a content plan. Rather than guessing what will work, I base my decisions on thorough research.

This analytical work is then mixed with my experience in telling real stories people want to buy. I promise the brand, “This story will be so good, everyone will share it with their friends.” Brands love this because it means lots of people will see their name. It’s about making a story that’s so great, it spreads like wildfire.

Turning Simple Stories into Something Amazing

In the end, getting brands to like our stories is about making magic happen. It’s taking a simple story and turning it into something that shows how amazing people can be. It's about making stories that are so real and touching. They make the brand and the viewers feel something special. When we do it just right, everyone wins. This includes the people watching the movie, the brand, and the amazing stories we get to tell.

How to Start Your Documentary in a Super Cool Way

Jonny von Wallstrom

Jonny von Wallstrom

Making the Beginning Super Interesting

Starting a movie is super important. It's like the first step on a big, exciting adventure. I've got some secrets for making everyone want to watch right from the start.

Think of something cool or a big question that makes you wonder what will happen next. Like, when we show Tim looking at the big mountains before his race, you start thinking, "Can he really do this?" This is how we grab your attention and make you want to see more.

But for these questions to work, you also need context. I need to explain in a simple cinematic way what is at stake and what is this race he's running. The more insane you can make that seem the more people will want to find out if he can do it.

Making Friends in Our Movies

How We Make You Cheer for People Like Tim

In making our movies, people like Tim are super important. They're not just people we talk about; they're like the main part of our story. We want you to cheer for Tim and feel like you're right there with him. Here’s how we do it, with some easy tips for anyone making movies.

First, we show you all about Tim. Not just him running, but what he loves, what makes him nervous, and what he’s dreaming about. It’s like getting to know a new friend. Tip one: Share everything about your main person, like their hopes and what scares them. This way, you're not just watching someone; you're getting to know them.

Next, we let you see the real Tim. Like when he laughs or looks really focused, it’s like seeing a friend being totally themselves. Tip two: Show those true, honest moments. It helps you feel closer to Tim and understand him better.

Talking and Sharing Feelings

Listening to Tim is also super important. When he talks about why he runs or what he’s worried about, it’s like he’s talking right to you. Tip three: Let your main person share their thoughts and feelings. It makes everything feel more real and special.

Seeing Tim do nice things, like helping another runner, shows he’s a really good person. Tip four: When you show someone being kind or brave, everyone likes them even more. It’s like finding out your friend is also a hero.

Making Stories That Feel Like Real Life

Making sure you feel a connection with your main characters like Tim, means showing you who they really are. We want our films to feel like you're journeying with a friend. You see their challenges and cheer for their wins. We share real stories and true feelings. Our documentaries aren’t just stories; they’re like making new friends.

By following these simple tips, we ensure that our movies make you feel something big. You're not just watching; you're part of the adventure, feeling it all alongside people like Tim. Making movies is not just about making us all closer together, one story at a time.

Making the End of the Movie Super Special

How to Finish a Story Perfectly

Finishing a story the right way is super important. It’s like putting the last piece of a puzzle in place. When we tell a story like Tim's big race, the ending makes it all feel complete and amazing. I want to share how we make the end of a movie something you won’t forget.

Making the Big Moments Shine

We use music and slow motion for the big moments at the end, like when Tim is about to finish the race. They make it feel even more epic. The whole movie builds up to this point, and we want it to feel super important.

We also want to leave you feeling really inspired, like you can do anything if you try hard. So, we might show Tim celebrating or just having a quiet moment to think about what he did. Make the ending uplifting. This way, everyone feels good and maybe thinks about their own dreams.

Asking Big Questions

At the very end, we sometimes ask a question or say something that makes you think, like “What’s your big challenge?” It's a way to make the story keep going in your mind, even after the movie is over. Use questions at the end to get everyone thinking about their own stories.

More Than Just The End

Finishing a movie is a big deal. It’s not just about ending the story. It’s a chance to inspire and leave a mark on everyone who watches. By using these tips, we don’t just say “The End.” We make the ending a part of your journey, making you feel like you can do great things too.

We try to make every ending so good that it stays with you and maybe even helps you start your own adventure. That's the magic of making movies. They don't just tell stories. They spark something special in everyone who watches.

Discovering the Magic of Making True Stories into Documentaries

Jonny von Wallstrom

Jonny von Wallstrom running on volcanoes in La Palma, Spain.

Starting Your Adventure with Filmmaking

Making documentaries is cool. This is especially true for ones about real adventures like Tim's big race. It's a chance to show everyone the real, wild adventures and feelings people go through. We get to make brands seem like heroes of their own exciting stories, not just companies.

Your Chance to Be a Storyteller

Hey, all you storytellers and filmmakers out there, this is like a shout-out to you! Thinking about making your own documentaries or just getting better at it?

Start by downloading my free Doc Hero's Journey Cheat Sheet. It will help you tell a better story.

And if you want to learn how to pitch Netflix, grab my free Pitch Perfect: Your Guide To Pitching Netflix.

Making Movies with Brands

When we make movies with brands, it's not just about being good at telling stories. We need to really understand what the brand is all about. When you want to make a movie about a brand or even pitch your movie idea to big companies, remember to keep it real. Find out what's special about the brand and show that in your movie. This makes your movie not just a story, but something that can light up the screen with truth and feelings.

Let's Make Amazing Documentaries Together

Now is the time to grab your camera. Start telling stories with real feelings and big adventures. You're just starting or you've been making movies for a while. There's always something new to learn and explore. Check out my $4 Mega Course Pack to get started. Yes, that's right, three full filmmaking courses for just 4 bucks. But hurry, it's gone soon. Click here to get started.


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