Updated: Mar 18, 2021
Let me start with a disclaimer. There is no one-size-fits-all video solution for anyone. What I’m describing here isn’t a copy and paste video, it’s a process that assures that videos you create will authentically connect with your audience. I call this Narrative Documentary or Authentic Documentary Testimonial but I’ll be referring to it as Narrative Doc from now on.
Why should I pursue Narrative Doc for my project?
There are plenty of styles from snappy ads to product explainers, so why should we go down this road? As with anything this depends on the purpose of your video and who your audience is but in any case Narrative Doc has a few key advantages. First is credibility. Rather than you talking about your product, service or org and how great it is, a real user relates their personal experience, free from bias. Usually this effect is amplified by the fact that the stories we tell are usually a member of your target audience, meaning that they are seeing one of their peers tell them what is great about you, rather than someone with a different background who may not understand their needs and experiences. A second strength is that the connection your audience makes is personal and emotional. We all like to think that we’re logical creatures, but how many of our purchasing or philanthropic decisions are made free of emotion. Think about apple’s iPod ads. Did they tell you about the storage capacity or the physical size of the device. No. They sold you on the excitement.
What is Narrative Doc?
Simply, we tell a real person’s story. Usually that means we interview them and design visuals to make the story as powerful as possible. This is where the idea of narrative comes in. We don’t just let what happens happen while shooting. We come in knowing the story, having planned visuals with a specific shot list to accomplish. We know what the interview will look like, because we’ve had conversations with everyone who will appear on camera before the shooting days. What we create is a blend of the documentary and narrative (the kind of movies we see in a theater) styles.
How do we do it?
Narrative doc is all about clarity of purpose and audience, then lots of research, planning and interviews all done before our shoot. I won’t give away the specific process (we’ll outline that in another post) but creating a Narrative Doc involves lots of development, but tends to speed through the actual production and post-production phases, since we’ve put in the time to build out exactly what we want to create.
Here are a couple of my favorites.
Happiness // Ekso Bionics
Thank You // Game Ready & Maurice Jones Drew