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They Want You To Send Poop

Posted on by Hal Clifford

The American Gut Project is likely to change medicine as we know and understand it, and the film Redefining Human will be a big part of that. Our sense of who and what we are is going to be severely challenged -- and our shot at optimal health greatly improved. This is a great film project by some close friends -- check it out and support them if you like (hey, they want you to send poop!).

Why We're Working in Africa

Posted on by Hal Clifford

We have several clients who work in Africa, and we are especially excited to be teamed up with Zaina, which is launching the first high-end eco-lodge in West Africa in early 2015. The lodge, located in Mole National Park in Ghana, will cater not only to wealthy Americans and Europeans (who now typically travel to high-end safari properties in East and South Africa), but also to Africans themselves. Despite the steady drumbeat of stories about war and corruption that we see in the western press, Africa is making progress on many fronts. It's a continent made up of 54 countries -- any blanket statement about how it is "good" or "bad" or "corrupt" or "dangerous" is inherently inaccurate. Today the NY Times published this article about the economic expansion that is spreading through sub-Saharan Africa. Places like Nigeria and Angola are developing a middle class, which is critical to creating political, economic, and environmental stability. It's a nice reaffirmation that Zaina is on to something big, and we're thrilled to be helping them.

We'll be going to Ghana in October to collect materials for a big marketing push for the Zaina lodge. More to come!

This Is Your Brain on Story

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Here's a nice summary from Pacific Standard about the brain's predilection for story. We are, as one of the sources here says, "hard wired" for it. Story is the most effective, stickiest way to deliver a message. We've all known this intuitively for a long time; now, the brain science is catching up. Stories cause our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin (feel-good and bonding chemicals). They create visible and persistent neural changes in the brain. Stories, in other words, remain the most powerful tool for connecting with people.

Green Marketing Cage Fight

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Ted Page at Captains of Industry has put up a good post at Marketing:Green. As companies try to burnish their green credentials they're starting to bash their competitors. I agree with him that this is a good thing. It gets beyond greenwashing and means that companies are taking green cred seriously. If you're going to go toe-to-toe on your green chops, you'd better actually have green chops.

Our New Documentary Film Project

Posted on by Hal Clifford

We're delighted to be working with Ask Why Films to create a feature-length documentary about K-12 education in the United States. There's a lot of angst about education these days. Our film (still no title!) will hold up great examples of people and organizations who aren't reforming education—they're completely reimagining what it is. As Ask Why says in its overview, "Today, Google can answer almost any questions. So the 21st century needs thinkers. And we need an education system to produce them."

We'll post updates as we go.

What REALLY Goes Into a Great Video

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Tim Ferris, author of the bestselling book The Four-Hour Workweek, followed up with The Four-Hour Body. Ferris is a very driven person, and he set out to make a great book trailer to promote his book. Actually, in his own words, he set out to create "the best book trailer ever." He did end up with a great trailer, which clocked in at just under 60 seconds and cost him about $12,000. He notes that it could easily have run $40,000 - $100,000, given his vision. That's a bit steep; the point is he was willing to spend money for quality. And it shows. In a long and media-rich blog post, he tells, and shows, what went into building the trailer.

If you want to understand what it actually takes to make a good video, it's worth the read -- not because of all the the technical details, but because he opens a window on the nature of the collaborative effort and how much work goes on behind the scenes for things you might barely think about at the beginning (like music).

You don't need to spend $12,000 for a great video. But you'll make a better one if you understand what goes into making it great. 

Why This Is A Bad Blog Post

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Confession time: I started my career as a writer. I still love words and love to work with them. But the evidence is clear: words don't come close to visuals for sticking power.

If you want your audience to remember your message, don't rely on words alone. Check out this factoid: According to the Media Education Center, a 3M study found that humans process images 60,000 times faster than words. If you ponder that for a second, it makes sense. You can easily recall an image you saw yesterday, last week, or 10 years ago. But it's much harder to recall something you read. And that gets to the second point: not only do we process images faster, we retain them better than words. The communications expert Peter Temple says that information retention after three days rises from 10% to 65% if an image is added to words.

From an evolutionary point of view, you can see why this is true. We have been paying attention to our environments for hundreds of thousands of years, learning by looking. We have been reading for only a few thousand years. And even reading is actually the processing of images, since the brain learns letters and words as images themselves.

So why is this a bad blog post? For the same reason that PowerPoint is bad when the presenter reads the words on the screen out loud—it's just words. I should have added an image here, just as you should use compelling images in your presentations.

The Video You Don't Want to Make

Posted on by Hal Clifford

This is a brilliant, hilarious sendup of the generic, anodyne videos that too many companies and nonprofits are putting up on their websites and pushing out through their social media channels. Watch this to understand what NOT to do when you make a video: Don't be fake. Don't be inauthentic. Don't be generic. Don't underestimate your audience. And while it's a great advertisement for the stock agency that made it -- don't rely on too much stock footage.  

 

Colorado, Belize, Africa, Cambodia

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Jason and Hal slipped out of town for a few days over spring break. We went to slightly different places:

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Hal went to the high country of Colorado. Jason went to the low country of Belize. Hmm. Who made the better choice?

By now we've got the snow and sand out of our shoes and are back at it. The coolest new development for us is that we'll be headed to Ghana in the fall to help launch the first luxury safari ecolodge in West Africa. We'll be creating brand video, media kits, social media and video and still imagery libraries for the folks at Zaina, the firm launching the new lodge in Mole National Park. (Check them out here.) This will be Jason's fifth trip to Africa, his first to the western side, and Hal's first overall. We're delighted to be part of this team!

We're also thrilled to be moving forward with our project "Capturing The Killing Fields," a planned documentary film about Mac & Simone Leng, survivors of the Cambodian genocide of the late 1970s. We've raised the funds to conduct our initial on-camera interviews in May and June here in Colorado, with the goal of creating a development trailer for the full-length film. So Cambodia isn't quite on the calendar yet, but it's in our sights ...

 


 

Very Cool Post On Emotions & Decisions

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Over the weekend we saw a great post on the blog Buffer summarizing a lot of the science about how emotions drive actions on the web (like sharing), and how we use emotions to make decisions (contrary to conventional wisdom, in which we believe we analytically decide things [we don't]). Herewith, my Clifnotes version (although you should check out the graphics in the original post):

- Happiness makes us want to share (thus brands use puppies and babies)

- Sadness makes us want to connect and empathize

- Fear and surprise make us want to cling to someone (and that someone could be a brand)

- Anger and disgust make us stubborn (watched Fox News lately?)

Author Courtney Seiter wraps up by quoting Google's Abigail Posner: "when we share a video or an image, we’re not just sharing the object, but we’re sharing in the emotional response it creates."

How To Get A Creative to Help Your Brand

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Photographer Thomas Hawk gave a nice interview to Content Marketing Institute about how brands can entice creatives to work with them -- especially creatives who are good and are in demand. Some if his tips: It has to be about more than money; make it interesting; give that creative something other people aren't going to get (like access). I would add, if you want someone to write about, photograph or film your stuff, give them room. Let them be authentic and convey what they want to convey. Their involvement with your brand will be a lot more real, original and compelling as a result.

Recent Work (We've Been Busy!)

Posted on by Hal Clifford

This week we wrapped filming for a fundraising video for The Friends School, in which we tried to do something different from the usual "cute kids" video. We're just about done with a multi-pronged video project for Emily Davis Consulting, which has been a blast (Emily is one of our favorite people!). We're in the middle of filming a home page video for Listening Impact, a consulting firm that does some really interesting work (but we won't show you their webpage now, because they're rebuilding it). We've been helping Penguin author Mike SanClements with a book trailer to help launch his upcoming book on plastic. And we're going into final edits on a short documentary film we did for American Macular Degeneration Foundation, about the artist Lennart Anderson

The only problem with all this? We have been unable to find time to go fishing in Colorado's awesome trout rivers yet this year. Maybe later this month ...

Projection: Online Video To Get Longer, Shorter

Posted on by Hal Clifford

'Tis the season for prognostication, and the folks at Content Marketing Institute have gone out on a limb (albeit a very short one) to say two things about video. First, we're going to see more very short ones on formats like Vine and Instagram, as part of larger branding and marketing campaigns. Second, we're going to see more long brands videos. Bounty, Jaguar, Patagonia and Coke have all been pushing the envelope in this regard. (Examples in the hot links.)

This is great for us here at Take One, since we make short and long videos! We love being ahead of the curve...

Optimize Your Video

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Trying to promote your organization without video -- that's bad. But creating video without a good plan to make the most of it is bad, too. The Content Marketing Institute suggests 5 steps to make sure you get the most from your video:

1. Build your video with your end goal in mind

2. Create calls to action and ways to follow up on leads

3. Set up a lead-capture system

4. Add key information for search engine optimization

5. Analyze how it all worked and iterate again

Read the whole thing here.

McDonalds Uses Video to Dispel Myths

Posted on by Hal Clifford

Think what you want about McDonalds (do they make amazing fries or soul-killing fake food?), their team in Canada is savvy to using video to confront urban mythology and engage consumers -- including skeptics. This video went up during the Super Bowl and, three days later has logged more than 1.5 million views. In it, a pair of McD's and Cargill employees lead the video camera on a tour of a Chicken McNuggets processing facility to address a consumer's question about what is in the McNuggets. True, they don't tell us everything that's in the McNugget, but they get points for using video to communicate directly with a potential critic.