How to Find the “Heart” of a Video Production

How to Find the “Heart” of a Video Production

Written by Rustin Hamilton, Illumina Filmworks

It all sounds a little sappy, doesn’t it? “Make sure you find the ‘heart’ of the project.” Since I’m not a sappy, or even highly emotional person, it’s easy to roll my eyes just a bit when I hear those words. However, to deny the importance of discovering the emotional component of a script, or a shoot, would be a big mistake.

Like most production companies, we work in all formats with a wide array of subjects. But two of our specialties are rural/agriculture and non-profit films … shot primarily in Africa.

These two areas can be especially “heart driven.” Africa is fairly obvious, but in agriculture, even when shooting the most sterile crop chemical commercial, you have to make a connection that goes beyond business. Yet you can’t be patronizing.

Using Agribusiness as our example, let’s look at a few ideas that help strike the right cord with viewers:

  • First, don’t confuse “heart” with “romance.” We’re looking to dig deeper and discover what lies beneath the obvious story. Which, in turn, will strike the heart of the viewer. Sometimes that requires sentiment, sometimes not.
  • Keep the story in mind. Storytelling is an overused buzz word for a reason. It always matters. Give the viewer a reason to stay engaged.
  • Don’t go overboard. Be honest. Hollywood will put our above-mentioned farmer in a 1957 Chevy pickup and overalls. But if you’re trying to win over your viewer, (who, in this case, is a farmer) that person needs to be in a newer model pickup. Anything else sends the message that you don’t know your audience.
  • Work the script. What are the buzz words, or “cultural words” that connect the script to the viewer? What are the triggers? Don’t assume you already know those words. Start with demographics. Do your research. That could mean interviewing people or visiting those areas in person.
  • Shoot meaningful imagery. Take the same idea above and apply it to your visuals. Example: A farmer feels connected to the land, not to chemicals. But you still have to sell chemicals.   What can you do with that?  The imagery must make that connection – because no one gets tired of seeing something that is both beautiful and compelling.

These rules apply to all genres. Some will be easier than others but that is the challenge that makes our jobs unique and fun. If you can strike the right tone, your client will keep coming back.

Written By Illumina Partner, Rustin Hamilton.