Highlighting Authenticity – Day in the Life Documentaries

RabbitView has had the opportunity to create numerous  “Day in the Life” style videos.  The subject matter of these productions has ranged from athletes, to entertainers, small business owners and even the victim of a car accident.  Invariably these documentary style videos have generated the most positive feedback for us.  The reason is simple; these documentary style productions enable the subject matter’s authenticity to be highlighted.  Subjects are not reciting lines or regurgitating a prepared script – they are in their everyday environment being genuine and our anecdotal evidence suggests that viewers connect with subjects that are real and sincere regardless of the subject matter.

As video producers we are constantly viewing content on-line, seeing how different individuals, companies and organizations are using video to highlight what they do.  It is important to keep on top of not only the sorts of subjects and topics that are being filmed, but also the different styles and techniques video producers are employing to tell these stories.  It is becoming very apparent that the ‘day in the life’ documentary style of story-telling is becoming more predominant for all types of businesses to highlight what they do.  The Ultimate Fighting Championship has a series where they follow fighters before their fights – instead of seeing canned interviews and staged press gatherings, viewers can see intimate moments of the fighters with the family and friends, the down times between training sessions, as well as their actual training. Viewers are able to connect with the fighters, see them as likeable husbands, fathers, sons and friends, and in turn are more likely to root for them, look for their upcoming fights, follow them on soical media, and perhaps buy their next pay per view event.

These sorts of videos are not limited to high profile athletes or celebrities.  Recently I had the chance to view mini documentaries from Travelocity – the travel company filmed a series of shorts where they gave free vacations away to “deserving” families.  These were not your standard travel advertisements with smooth talking models walking the beautiful beaches in slo-motion of sunny beaches accompanied with slick visuals of various global destinations.  Rather they told the backstory of people with varying backgrounds who have not had the chance to travel in the past.  The anticipation builds as the “deserving” families discuss the reasons they have not been able to travel and then are ultimately rewarded with a free vacation – their reactions are emotional and real.  Their tears of joy are then followed by a montage of intimate images showcasing the family having the time of their lives, talking about how wonderful travel is and important travel can be to attain a well balanced life.

Expedia – Video Documentary Advertisement

We generally click away from advertising as quickly as possible when watching TV or surfing the web.  Although ads are generally no more than 30 seconds and are essentially paying for the content we watch, we generally have no patience for them (with the exception being Super Bowl ads). The “day in the life” documentary style pieces buck that trend by being more subtle.  It is compelling to watch an unsuspecting family receive a free trip, be very appreciative, and then see footage of them actually going on that trip.  Obviously we are conscious on some level that the company responsible for the trip is trying to build good will and ingratiate us to them.  However, we are not as apt to be cynical and turn away because the content is real and absorbing.  In turn, because we are genuinely engaged, the advertiser might have succeeded in their goal of building allegiance.  Viewers will likely become more mindful of the use of documented stories by advertisers – as they grow in popularity – so they are less prone to being manipulated by advertisers’ agendas.   Regardless, the importance of and power of telling a genuine story to highlight a person, service, event, business, etc., cannot be negated.  Viewers can assess for themselves if the subject matter is indeed genuine and inevitably the more “real” it feels, the more likely the video will be viewed  positively and yield favorable results for the producers.

From a video producers perspective, these documentary style of videos are more fulfilling to produce than tightly scripted pieces.  Generally, with “day in the life” chronicles, you are filming individuals that are sincerely passionate about what they do and we get to exercise our skills as visual storytellers.  Invariably when going to meetings with perspective clients, these are the videos we show because they are the most engaging.  We recently filmed a “day in the life” video with Wayne Lee.  He is a corporate hypnotist and speaker.  In the piece (which you can view by clicking on the screen above),  you not only get to see Wayne perform but you get to be a fly on the wall and get to see him behind-the-scenes.  His enthusiasm and passion to perform as well as his dedication to his craft are highlighted – ultimately we think it is an entertaining piece for viewers while also building Wayne’s brand as a highly appealing corporate speaker.  Getting to know him is good for building his brand.

Another important benefit from these sorts of videos is that they have the potential to be wildly popular.  One of the day in the life videos that we produced of CrossFit athlete Lucas Parker has over 1.5 million hits and plenty of interesting commentary in the comments section.  Candid videos that document interesting subject matter has the ability to educate, enlighten,  entertain and generate lively debate.  It also captures people’s imagination.  We all love stories – it is why we go to the movies, watch TV, view web-series, and read books.

These sorts of productions are also relatively cost effective to produce.  While we take pride in the quality of our high definition visual images and want to make sure the sound is broadcast quality, we also want to make sure productions are streamlined so that these videos work within client’s marketing budgets.  This efficiency enables us to keep costs down for our clients and allow the client to go through their day in a fairly normal fashion while being chronicled.  There is no need for extensive lights, wardrobe and make-up units, or giant crews – usually a 1 or 2 man crew can suffice and current camera packages allow producers to capture amazing images while remaining inconspicuous.  There is also no need for time consuming scripting, minute story-boarding, and memorization of tedious text.   Simple outlines of the key story points and visuals enable an experienced production team to come up with an engaging visual piece that rings true.  Furthermore, these sorts of videos can be edited with a quick turnaround time so clients can integrate this current content on their websites and social media platforms in a timely fashion.

Finally, the client has the flexibility to have the videos cut into sections of their preferred length so they can have consistent content.   The pared down costs of these sorts of documentary videos enable them to employ video on an on-going basis so that their visual media is not static.   These new video story updates enables them to connect with their audience with regular fresh content.  A client can tell their story in small chunks at a time as it naturally unfolds – it can be anything from one minute updates to a more comprehensive legnthy chronicles.

I know from our perspective we want to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with clients – the more we chronicle what they do, the more they grow and succeed.

Jeremy Podlog – RabbitView Video