Grass Man – 48-Hour Film Project (Camp) – 2015 Audience Award Winner

Amanda and I have wanted to try a kids film camp sort of deal where we could teach some ‘yoots’ the different aspects of filmmaking, from concept, writing, planning, costumes, acting, editing, all the way to premiering in a theater. When our friend Josh’s son Connor turned 13, we decided it would be a great opportunity to teach him film (he’s in theater and is just about the coolest, funniest, most mature kid we’ve met) via a 48-hour film project. After making the promise back in January of this year, we patiently waited for the 48-Hour Film event in Austin, TX—not to compete, but to teach.

Soon after making our birthday promise to Connor, we learned that there was another yoot in the family who was getting into film: Amanda’s cousin Carter. Carter had just signed up for a semester of film club at his school and he brought along his film fanatic friend John, who spent the weekend making the other boys watch the classics, like Forrest Gump and Tucker and Dale vs Evil.

So that was it, that was the plan, get some family/friend’s yoots, throw them into a 48hr, but help them with every aspect as a guide.

The teens drew their genre: Romance. But after making ‘ick’ noises and groaning, they pretty much immediately opted for a wildcard draw for a new genre. They then drew ‘Mockumentary,’ to which one of them replied, “What’s mockumentary?” Oh boy, this should be interesting, we thought… After a moment, Carter says, “Is it like SpinalTap?” Oh yes, this yoot wearing a Mumford and Sons shirt has seen SpinalTap… We’re good.

On the way home to plan and write the script, we began asking them what they’d want to do a mockumentary on. We pointed out to them that sometimes the most mundane things in life, when fully inspected, are the most funny. John blurted out grass… Grass? Okay, pretty mundane. That could work. Any other ideas? And so it went. We spent Friday night teaching/coaching them on what makes a story funny and complete, while getting them to whiteboard out as many different ideas as they could. Then they conversed with each other on why they liked one idea over another and combined ideas and tweaked things and then made a final whiteboard list and voted. Three kids, three votes. Grass Man, the idea that grew from the word blurted in the car, had grown into a mockumentary about an obsessed old man who steals people’s grass… and it won by a landslide. (2 to 1)

We had our concept, so we spent the rest of Friday night working with the boys on scripting out the story and the scenes, guiding them to keep in mind the resources we had (three yoots, one house, one neighborhood). We settled on a simple story about Hubert (played by Connor) an old man who quit his job due to health issues, who lost his meaning in life, and had become obsessed with grass. He is supported by two neighborhood kids (Carter and John), a neighbor (John dressed differently), and a locksmith named Walter Buckley (Carter dressed differently). The locksmith was a requirement of the 48-Hour Fest, along with the use of medicine as a prop and the line of dialogue “Where did you put it?”

On Saturday we took the boys to Party City and Goodwill so they could design/pick out their costumes. They then spent Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning acting, adlibbing some of the best lines, and spent Saturday night watching movies (as listed above). Sunday afternoon we had all the footage we needed and they then sat down and helped out with editing.

The next week they got to see their film on the big screen at the Alamo Drafthouse Lamar and enjoyed some pretty heart-felt laughs from the audience. In fact, the audience loved it so much, they voted it their favorite film of the night! (And the boys got quite a bit of interest from the other directors in the crowd.)

We’re super proud of the work the teens did, especially considering they had never done anything like this before. They each jumped right in and worked well with one another and stayed through to the end, not a simple feat for a yoot these days I’d guess.

Amanda and I have been so lucky in so many ways in our own lives, it’s nice to share our gifts and experience with the next generation.

Enjoy the film courtesy of Connor, Carter, and John!

2015 Austin Silver Addy award!

We’re happy to share that this week, we were informed that TheGrommet.com’s 30-second spot we directed and produced won a Silver Addy award here in dreamy-ol’ Austin Texas.

AddySilverAward

Watch it here if you haven’t seen it yet.

We’d like to thank Job Propulsion Labs for submitting the work. JPL is a well-known advertising training program started by Bart Cleveland in Austin, Texas. They offer a great mentorship program for young creatives working toward success within the ad industry. We directed and produced this 30-second broadcast commercial for some of JPL’s students to help them build their portfolio and find positions within the industry. We’re pretty sure producing a Silver-winning spot ought to help. 🙂

If you’re thinking about broadcast or even online commercial video production, contact us today to see how we can help with your advertising video strategy, writing, and production.

Read Our Guest Column for Kapost

By Amanda Farmer, Dreamtown Strategic Director

Dreamtown-guest-blog-for-Kapost

If you’ve ever turned to our benevolent overlord the Internet for marketing advice, chances are you’ve landed on a Kapost article. As a platform for content marketers, Kapost really practices what it preaches, running a highly strategic, consistent, quality content program that gives it excellent pagerank for most content-related searches.

Being a content writer and strategist myself, I was certainly aware enough of Kapost to feel flattered when its editorial team asked me to become a guest contributor to their blog, The Marketeer.

We started with a series of posts centered around frequently searched content marketing definitions and will be tackling some more in-depth issues in the coming weeks, including how B2B tech marketers can more effectively market to IT teams.

Until then, take a look at some of my recent contributions. Enjoy!

 

On content marketing:

The Content Audit: What Horrors Await?

Ask someone to perform a content audit, and it sounds pretty straightforward. Sit down to actually perform a content audit, and you’ll find yourself in a circle of hell that Dante dared not speak of. I exaggerate. But barely. You’ll be challenged by a number of beasts during your journey through Content Audit Hell, which always begins in the Valley of Inventory. The first beast you’ll meet, fittingly, has no specific name. We’ll call him “Ambiguity.” Read more

 

Content marketing definitions:

Content Strategy

You may think that writing a blog post on the definition of a self-explanatory term like “content strategy” is just an SEO ploy. Well… ok, you’re partly right. But before you get all smarty-pants smug, let me ask you a question. Does your company have a documented content strategy? Not an editorial calendar—a content strategy. Read more

Content Marketing Workflow

Are you one of those people who loves making lists? As a child, did you buy fresh notebooks and flip through the pages, inhaling the scent, before finally committing that first, perfect stroke in glossy ink, tingling in anticipation over the moment you’d later cross through it with a single, straight line? You sound like kind of a weird kid. Were your parents worried? Read more

Editorial Calendars for Brand Publishers

For centuries before the idea of “brands as publishers” came along and gave a generation of marketing writers renewed job security, traditional publishers used editorial calendars, or ed cals, to plan upcoming stories and help advertisers choose their insertion schedules. That hasn’t changed, but today, brands have co-opted the editorial calendar, in name and essence, as a way to plan and manage their content marketing programs. Read more

Content Production

Because the vast majority of any content marketing program relates to research, strategy, and analysis, some might call content production the “fun” part. It is, after all, the point in the process when your uptight, left-brained strategists finally unleash a horde of neurotic, right-brained creatives to turn your plan into reality. (Sometimes the same person is responsible for both strategy and production—take it from me, you don’t want to hear the conversations going on in that head.) Read more

Production Analytics

I’ve always loved mindless tasks. I remember the day a supervisor at my first job decided she’d reward me for good creative work by taking away all the mindless, entry-level tasks I’d been responsible for—reports, restocking paper, you name it. It was hard to hide my disappointment. Read more

Dessert Content

Content masters create campaigns the same way master chefs create multi-course meals. They think of each course as part of a journey through distinctive but thematically unified experiences. (Now re-read that in Anthony Bourdain’s voice. Much cooler, right? Feel free to have him narrate the rest of this post.) Read more

Content Pillar

You might have never heard the term before, but if you’re running a content marketing program, chances are you’ve worked with content pillars in the past. A content pillar is simply an in-depth piece of content, such as an eBook, whitepaper, video, or research report, that can be broken out into many smaller assets, such as blog posts, infographics, and emails. Read more

Microblog

If this is your first time hearing the word “microblog,” I know exactly what you’re thinking. [meme: What is this? A blog for ANTS?!] Common misconception. Read more

 

Client: RealMassive chooses Dreamtown as Creative Agency

RealMassive

We couldn’t be more excited to announce that Austin-based tech startup RealMassive has officially selected Dreamtown Creative as its agency of record for local and national creative marketing.

RealMassive is one of those rare companies that’s equal parts brilliant ideas and amazing people. Founder & CEO Joshua McClure started RealMassive when he recognized the need for a completely open, real-time commercial real estate (CRE) hub. Up to that point, the only online CRE listing services that existed were full of inaccurate, outdated, and missing listings, and worse still, people usually had to pay a small fortune to access them.

RealMassive’s free, accurate search and CRE management hub was so fresh and so desperately needed by the industry that the company was quickly able to raise funding from private investors, many of whom were CRE property owners and professionals themselves. In a matter of months, the company grew from a two-person startup to a team of more than 25 employees.

Notably, RealMassive was also chosen as one of Austin’s “Best Places to Work” for 2014 (because, again, brilliant ideas + amazing people), receiving an average of 14 employment applications every hour. Wow.

In the coming months, RealMassive will expand outside the Austin market to Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and New York, with Dreamtown building out the corporate branding strategy and supporting launch efforts.

Among other duties, Dreamtown will handle the following for RealMassive:

  • Branding strategy and development
  • Video marketing strategy and production
  • Writing of site content and incremental customer communications
  • Strategy, creation, and production of printed marketing materials
  • Strategy, research, and writing of thought leadership articles
  • Graphic design support

Dreamtown will also have the pleasure of working alongside Blast PR, who has been handling public relations.

The official relationship was won after the completion of several successful projects, including the creation of RealMassive’s FAQ knowledge base and the company’s introductory explainer video.

As you know we’re a small shop and we’re very proud to call Josh and his RealMassive team a part of our creative family! We look forward to all that we’ll accomplish in the future!

 

The Different Styles of Corporate Branding Video

Remember the old adage “It’s not what you say, but how you say it”? When it comes to video marketing, a lot of business owners know what they want to say but aren’t sure which video style will help them say it best.

To help you sort through the options, here’s a list of the most popular styles of corporate branding videos, along with some of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Animated Explainer

    • Good for complex, or new, services and technology
    • Relatively low cost
    • Ability to keep consistent style with website or service branding
    • Best for brands who want to portray energy and excitement, youth

Live/Graphical Instructional

    • Can be more personal/friendly that animation
    • On-screen personality holds attention longer for dull or complex learning objectives
    • Provides value beyond the brand/service for shareability
    • Best for brands who need an extra jolt of friendly/conversational tone

Slice-of-life/Branding

    • Highest production quality
    • Most similar to traditional branding
    • Better at getting attention for initial launch of new products/services
    • Best for consumer-facing brands selling a life improving or time-saving product

Many brands decide to combine live-acting to “host” the video and move the target audience through the different topics their brand story requires, while dipping into shorter animations and graphical explanations for individual elements, like showing how a product is different from the competition.

Would your brand be best suited by a friendly host sharing the value of your brand in a conversational tone? Maybe your product needs a visual explanation or breakdown? These are all aspects that need to be determined and developed during your concept and scripting phase. It takes a lot of work to develop a strong branding campaign, especially one that hits on all cylinders with the words it speaks and the images it shows. It’s worth spending the extra time in the beginning to hone and focus your strategy.

Dreamtown Creative offers all of the support you’ll need to accomplish this lofty goal. We work with startups and businesses in Austin, Texas to ensure that the time and energy they spend toward their visual branding and marketing campaigns bring the largest return on investment. How valuable is a strong branding campaign? You could ask Apple, Google, BMW, or any of the market leaders throughout the world.

No matter how big or small you think your business is, if you rely on clients, you rely on how they interact with your brand. Don’t let the marketplace define you. Use branding to define yourself.

Journal: Dreamtown goes to NAB2014

When I was a teenager during the ’90s, there was one week a year I could always count on spending with my father – the week of the world’s largest B2B media show, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention.

The 90’s

Dad was an inventor and entrepreneur, and for much of my childhood his focus was on a product called the Tentelometer, which helped VCR repairmen gauge the tension of magnetic tape in order to diagnose problems. It might not sound sexy, but the fact is it was the only product of its kind, and it paid my way through private school.

Dad had employees, sure, but none quite as cost-effective or eager as his eldest son. So I found myself each Spring Break in the exhibition hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, awkwardly chatting with he dolled-up models Dad hired to attract convention-goers to our booth (I’m sorry, but it happened).

Soon the magnetic tape era ended, and we stopped going.

2013

After spending nearly a decade working within the creative video/ad industry, I had developed many close friends on twitter with various other directors, writers, and camera geeks. After some peer-pressuring and friendly “words” between online friends, I bought a ticket and headed to Vegas to see what was happening on the floor these days. In the years since Dad and I had attended together, my interests had shifted to cameras and camera equipment, and NAB offered the latest and greatest in both those categories, set up and ready to touch, try, and compare.

It was a magical week, spent hanging out “IRL” with a bunch of fellow directors, editors, and gearheads I’d previously only known on Twitter. The whiskey flowed, and I think we all relished the opportunity to talk to people who weren’t bored by our detailed discussions of LED lighting CRI (that’s color rendition index if you didn’t know), Lens MTF (Modulation Transfer Function, who knew making images was so geeky), and other elements that we could probably spend all day arguing about. It’s always fun to geek out and build relationships with those you share interests in and I left that week feeling inspired about my choice to be a part of this constantly-developing industry.

2014

A year later, I find myself back at NAB once again, browsing the acres of cameras, rigs, lights, and audio equipment from all of the world’s top manufacturers. Like any true cameraphile, I spend a good bit of energy to keep up with the industry’s every move on a daily basis, so very little of what I see on the floor surprises me.

Call me jaded, but it’s been a while since a camera has come along and truly revolutionized the industry. Maybe I’m partial (since I’m a proud owner/operator), but the RED One is the last example I can think of – a digital camera that produced an image close enough to film that legitimate directors started to switch formats.

This year, there are two clear trends dominating the new products at NAB:

  • 4K
  • Gimbals

Those things probably don’t mean much to the average reader, so let me explain.

4k

4K is a very high resolution format, one step up from 1080, which is the highest resolution most TVs can present at the moment. A 4K video won’t look very different from a 1080 video on a TV monitor, but on a movie screen or a 4K TV, it will look eerily sharper. Like the RED, a few more cameras are now able to shoot in 4K, which also offers some advantages for editors (you never want to rely on “fixing it in post,” but the fact is, having a higher-resolution image allows you a little more leeway if you have to crop or adjust it).

4k_comparison

Electronic Gimbals

Gimbals are a pivoting support that rotates around an axis. When you mount a camera to one, it enables the camera to balance at a steady angle, even when the operator is moving. This year, they’re appearing on remote-controlled drones and handheld rigs in increasing numbers. That’s a great thing, but we’ve joked that manufacturers have run out of ideas and have resorted to releasing the same products “Now with more gimbals!”

Camera Automation

Still, there are some notably cool things happening on the floor. The “Jigabot AIMe” system helps cameras capture people and objects in motion (think water skiers or flying baseballs) without using a human camera operator. Just stick a small dot on the object or person you want to track and another one on the camera, and the camera will automatically adjust to follow the action.

I also had a chance to play with the DJI Ronin remote-controlled Gimbal rig and found it to be a smooth ride and much cheaper than the others on the floor (although that’s mostly because it’s made in China).

Take Away

It’s a crazy thing to feel underwhelmed in the face of technology my dad and I couldn’t have even begun to imagine during the Tentelometer’s heyday. Analog devices have gone the way of the “booth babe,” both relics of an older and much more easily impressed era.

But the fact is, the magic of video never came from the gadgets and devices. With the playing field leveled by the much lower cost of entry into the film world, it’s become apparent that a person’s technology is not nearly as important as their creative vision. Not everyone with a handicam can become Darren Aranofsky.

Our equipment is just a tool, and our artistic vision is the only thing that can actually set us apart.

Growing up my father always pushed me to be as creative as possible. He wasn’t fooled by all the shiny new tech. He knew that no matter the job or the tool, success only comes with hard work and creativity. That’s just much harder to hold a convention on.


 

Love and miss you Wayne Graham, an amazing father and engineer. April 24, 1943 – January 20, 2013

How to Avoid Making McSweeney’s “Generic Brand Video”

This week, AdWeek posted a satirical video called “This Is a Generic Brand Video,” written by McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and produced by stock footage company Dissolve. From stock footage of “scientists” performing unspecified lab research to a list of buzzwords dissolving over a cloudy sky, this video makes fun of dozens of video marketing cliches.

Anyone who’s ever made a branding video will probably snicker a few times watching that. We at Dreamtown certainly rolled our eyes and laughed at the sheer familiarity of it all.

But it got us thinking: Beyond avoiding those specific tropes, there are probably a few lessons to be learned from the “generic brand video.”

Three Lessons from the Generic Brand Video:

1. Understand where the cliches are coming from.

We’re all part of the same culture, living within the same zeitgeist, so sometimes we’re going to have the same ideas. It’s only natural. Often, cliches come about not because creatives are knowingly mimicking each other, but because they engage with similar media and customs, they have similar mindsets which lead them to similar conclusions.

To avoid this, we have to make sure we don’t just passively watch, but thoroughly dissect the latest advertising trends:


  • Have you noticed campaigns where an old man reads poetry while young people frolic on sweeping vistas? (Examples: Computers, Liquor, and Autos)
  • Take a step back and assume they weren’t trying to all be clones.
  • Then ask: What were they trying to convey? Where did the idea start?
  • How are they connecting the cultural theme to their personal brand?
  • What truth in today’s culture did they all identify, and how else could they have approached it?

It’s also a nice reminder not to use the first idea that comes into your head.

2. Write the script with images in mind.

Many times video editors resort to using cliched images because they simply don’t have much of a choice. Usually the problem is that the video’s script was written like a radio narrative – where the audio stands wholly independent of any action taking place within the video.

To prevent this, companies should develop scripts where the voice over is actually complemented by what’s going on in the images.


  • Can you use voice over ironically, where what’s being said is the opposite of what’s being shown?
  • Can the content of the voice over describe a metaphor for what’s being shown?

3. Use original video content, if possible.

There’s a reason stock footage is used and abused so often – it’s easy to get, and it can offer companies a level of production value they might not be able to afford otherwise. But the problem is, the more companies use stock footage, the more it starts to feel cheap.

A better option is developing a strategy that enables you to create and use original video content by narrowing the story’s scope while keeping the production value high. For example, you might spend the same amount on an original story that takes place within an office as you would have on a video full of stock footage of sweeping vistas. Maybe even less, depending on the production company.

And when everyone else’s stock brand videos are starting to feel played out, guess who suddenly looks like the big-budget trendsetter.

In the end, is having a generic brand video going to kill a company’s image? Of course not. That’s the point: It’s safe, easy, and allows executives to check that box they wanted to check. Many viewers might not even notice the content of the video.

But then, good marketing isn’t really about not being noticed, is it?

 Contact us for a free consultation

5 Steps for Writing an Exciting Explainer Video

As startups and big brands alike have become more invested in online video marketing, the animated explainer video has emerged as a staple on websites across all industries.

Writing a great explainer video

Typically 60-90 seconds long, explainer videos have the common-folk appeal of a buddy telling you about a great new product he just discovered.

They commonly feature an unseen narrator speaking over screenshots, animated characters, charts, and other images to explain a company’s offering in a visually engaging way that written content can’t.

When done well, explainer videos can be extremely effective, increasing conversion rates by anywhere from 15 to 75 percent.1 But just like buddies, some explainer videos are better at telling stories than others.

Recently, we created an explainer video for Austin-based startup RealMassive, a commercial real estate website (think Zillow for commercial real estate).

Here are a few key steps we took in order to make our video as engaging and exciting as possible, starting with a clear content strategy.

Five Steps for Writing an Exciting Explainer Video:


1. Identify the persona(s)

Before you start talking, figure out who you’re talking to. Do you have one audience for the video? Multiple? If multiple, should you create separate videos for each, or is there a way to include all the personas in one video?

For the RealMassive explainer video, we knew we needed to address three groups of individuals—business owners, tenant representatives, and property managers. We created a character to represent each group in order to show the pain points that each experiences and how those frustrations affect the characters’ dealings with each other.

2. Pick a relevant, creative theme

The CEO of RealMassive wanted to convey that commercial real estate is still done the old-fashioned way, and RealMassive will bring it into the modern age by placing commercial real estate data online in a collaborative, cloud-based environment.

To convey that theme, we mimicked the style of a 1950s newsreel or World’s Fair intro film, seguing into a more colorful, modern look when RealMassive enters the story. We felt this thematic choice would allow the script to carry a “cheekiness” that people could engage with, enjoy, and share.

3. Tell a story

Sometimes the best way to explain what a product does is to show a scenario where it’s being used (or should be used). For RealMassive, it was important to point out the pain points that existed in the current industry before explaining how the company’s service would solve them. This led to our decision to tell a relatable story about a typical transaction among the players in the commercial real estate industry, where it would be apparent that things weren’t going as smoothly as they could, given the benefits of modern technology.

4. Write for visuals

If you write the script without specific visuals in mind, you’ll find yourself scrambling when it comes time to animate. Ideally, you’ll have visuals that complement rather than mirror the narration. Even more ideally, they’ll do so in a funny (or at least entertaining) way.

For example, rather than just showing Andy working in a crowded room for the entirety of his segment, we had characters pop in absurdly, crowding him, as he sits at his desk for days, with the sun rising and setting behind him, the camera pushing in slowly before ending on a desperate facial expression. Meanwhile, Cindy rushes back and forth between her printer and her desk, papers flying around her, before one lands on her head to highlight her exasperation.

If you aren’t animating the video yourself, you’ll have to provide these kinds of detailed instructions to the animator, so it’s important to picture the video’s visual content as you write. Our director created a complete animatic (moving storyboard) of the video’s events to help the animator hit the story beats.

A “quick and dirty” animatic like the one above allows our director to share his vision with the client and get an approval on all the explainer video style and timing before spending the effort on animating the final version.

5. Get feedback & adjust

The fifth and final step is to share the script with a few people you trust, ideally a couple of whom aren’t familiar with the details of your business. After watching the video… Do they understand the information? Does it tell the whole story without getting bogged down in details? Would they be able to explain what you do to someone else after watching the video?

And finally, did it make them laugh? Smile? Is it worthy of the many hours of work you’ve put into your business’ mission and message?

By keeping these lessons in mind, your explainer videos will be more targeted, more entertaining, and bring larger returns on your marketing investment.

Dreamtown Creative offers affordable strategy, writing, direction, and animation of custom explainer videos that tell your company’s story in an exciting and engaging way.

 Contact us for a free consultation

10 Statistics on the Power of Web Video

From sleek brand ads to explainer videos, companies are using web video to enhance their web content, reach new audiences, and breathe life into their brands.

Web video statistics austin texas

If you’re new to using video as part of your marketing strategy, you might be hesitant to pull the trigger. Is it really any better at influencing prospective buyers than other forms of marketing content? And do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Here are five ways video has been proven to help companies reach their marketing goals, along with ten statistics that back them up.

1. Video Leads to Purchases

  • Shoppers who view web video are 174 percent more likely to purchase than viewers who did not. 1
  • 52 percent of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in their purchasing decisions. 1
  • Nearly 40 percent of consumers report that web videos increase their likelihood of making a purchase on a mobile device. 1

2. Video Educates

  • Approximately three out of five consumers will spend at least two minutes watching a web video that educates them about a product they have considered purchasing. 2

3. Video Engages

  • Video in email marketing has been shown to increase click-through rates by more than 96 percent. 2
  • 59 percent of senior executives prefer to watch a web video instead of reading text, if both are available on the same page. 2

4. Video Draws Eyeballs and Promotes Sharing

  • Web videos are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google’s search results than text content. 3
  • The average user spends 88 percent more time on a website with web video. 4
  • 66 percent of Twitter users regularly watch brand web videos, and 49 percent of users retweet web video content. 5

5. Quality Video Performs Best

  • Professionally produced web video outperforms user-generated video by more than 30 percent. 6

The ROI on video is indisputable. Whatever your goals for company growth, making video a cornerstone of your marketing strategy is a great way to make your content stickier, more shareable and, ultimately, more effective.

If you have any questions about producing and distributing web video to improve your marketing content, feel free to contact us.

 Contact us for a free consultation

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