Two years ago, our team spent a week with an Iraq War Veteran. He told us the story of a helicopter crash that nearly killed him—it broke his back and left him in a wheelchair for years of rehab. He was crying. He was cursing. He spoke about the thoughts that go through your head when you think you’re going to die. The room was silent. It felt like we held our breath for an hour.
To film that sort of moment takes complete trust from all parties. The brand we were shooting for, a national nonprofit, had to trust that we would handle this veteran’s story with care. The veteran had to trust that the nonprofit was there to protect him and that our team would reflect his story accurately and with purpose. Meanwhile, we had to trust that from the hours of preparation—the pre-interviews, the scouting, the research—a compelling story would unfold on the screen.
Documentary is no longer a niche word. The advent of streaming has meant more visibility and access to high-brow traditional documentaries (think Summer of Soul and My Octopus Teacher on Hulu and Netflix, respectively), and audience expectations have shifted. For most, a documentary is not just a Ken Burns sliding-picture show.
These series and films are popular for a reason: Raw, unscripted moments are usually the best ones. And brands that are willing to emulate documentaries can tip the scales in their favor in an increasingly dense and complex internet ecosystem. Video is already the dominant force of online content. TikTok, already downloaded more than 3 billion times, is built off an endless loop of videos. Cisco predicted in 2018 that by 2022, 82% of all online content would be video, and four years later, YouTube reports that more than 1 billion hours of video are watched on its platform every day.
Your audience is going to discover you through video. When they do, we recommend you greet them with a genuine, unscripted voice that reflects your company’s values. The subjects of these videos, whether they are your customers or employees, are not actors, so don’t ask them to be. Risk some awkward moments and let the camera roll on something authentic.
We believe in your people, and we believe your audience wants to see their real stories.
SJR’S DOCUMENTARY CREDS
- Scope: Our team has a breadth of experience from the worlds of agencies, journalism, publishing, broadcast TV, and feature filmmaking.
- Scalability: We scale productions to fit the budgets of each client and tailor to their audience (translating into multiple languages, styles, etc.). We bring on freelance support with specific expertise if needed.
- Stability: Our in-house team supports multiple brands, so we know what’s working and can bring that knowledge to all our clients. A dedicated team means that our people can intimately know a brand and cultivate its content.
- Speed: The old agency process is dying; endless debate means nothing gets done. Our team can get production moving quickly so the message gets out while it’s still relevant.