Gear is Secondary – Emotion is Primary

February 8, 2021

My heart sank. Everything we had asked them not to do, they’d done. Shaky footage, poorly exposed, the list went on! Crestfallen, we watched through the whole of the footage and at the end I emailed the client: “This is going to be a great story!”

The University of Bradford’s ‘Big Move In’ remains one of our proudest pieces of video content to date. The footage is, by any professional standard, terrible and yet we can comfortably post it here, with our chests puffed-out because it’s a wonderful story that brilliantly captures the feeling of leaving home for the first time to start a new life at university.

It contains many universal themes that the viewer can relate to. The young person leaving home for the first time, that combination of wobbly-legged nerves and the excitement of freedom out in the unknown. Then there’s the point of view of the parent, reluctantly seeing their little bird fly the nest.

This film was made in 2014, before everyone carried a good video camera around in their pocket. So we sent a camcorder to four students who were going to start as freshers.

The brief was simple: capture what you were taking to University, your feelings prior to leaving, saying goodbye,  your journey to campus and your first week at uni. It was an interesting experiment, as much of a step into the unknown for us and the University as it was for the students on their journey.

We also gave the students some basic instructions on how to film good footage, none of which they really adhered to! When we received the footage back from the students, we took it away to review in the edit suite. I was nervous. This could be garbage. Aesthetically the footage was poor. But shining like a beacon through those underexposed scenes were nuggets of pure emotional gold.

Nowadays there seems to be an obsession with new camera gear. Go on some forums and camera-users proudly flaunt pictures of their new gear as though displaying “the one” to their parents for the first time. It’s as though the next new piece of tech will make the next Oscar winner a non-contest because the footage is so cinematic one can’t help but weep at its beauty. And all the while forgetting that the look is secondary but story is primary.

Without a good story at the core, you are left with a thing of beauty that has no soul. It’s as disappointing as receiving a beautiful plate of food that has no flavour.

It’s a given that when we work with our clients, we are always going to try and make it look beautiful. It’s a massive part of our product. But far more importantly, we will work hard with you on that first step of making sure you have a strong story to tell because if the viewer gets to the end of the film and thinks “so what?”, or worse still, feels nothing, then the video is a failure.

Maya Angelou perfectly summed it up when she said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”