How does it make you feel?
I had a screenwriting professor in college ask, “How does your script make you feel?” Most of us said “nauseous,” as we never knew how we’d find the time to actually finish it. And if/when we did finish, then even more nauseous that someone would read it and give opinions.
She shook her head (probably debating why she took this job) and said we missed the point completely. She commanded we stop working in fear and start writing with passion and feeling. At the end of the film, people will remember how they felt. They won’t remember all the details that we agonized over, but they’ll remember the sum of the parts and how it made them feel. So you, the creator, must feel it first.
All film has this amazing ability to make people viscerally feel something, and a brand film is no different. Films that embody a trait of the brand and convey that outside of product points have so much power, but so often that fear sets in. What will people think? Will there be a backlash? What if everyone doesn’t agree with us?
It’s often hard for brands to put their necks out creatively, but when they do, they’re so richly rewarded. Films can make you laugh. Films can make you cry or contemplate or commiserate. But creation in fear is always debilitating. After all, you never hear someone on the Oscar stage say, “We took the middle of the road, watered it down, and it worked out great!”
Brands have access to funding and distribution — the holy grail for filmmakers everywhere. That’s a powerful combination to getting great films made that don’t fit into the “norm” of the short film festival circuit or studio system. It’s also a great way for the brand to get in front of people without the stigma of being an “ad.”
To watch a film by Brand X that takes your breath away — and makes you feel that way for 20 minutes or 200 minutes — you can’t help but see that brand in a new light. To know it had the guts and the passion to make you feel? That’s some serious street cred.
This could be the road to brand loyalty. Make me feel something again…and not dread.