Documentary film-making and corporate brand films have historically been uneasy bed fellows. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Production values and editorial integrity are as important to our clients’ films as they are to traditional TV docs.
A well-made documentary is imbued with a sense of authenticity and truth. It will generally present multiple arguments around a topic, leaving the viewer to make up his or her own mind.
Back in journalism school, I was told, there is no such thing as objectivity. Every word we use or don’t use, every frame we cut in or leave out, is the result of a choice informed by our conscious and subconscious biases. What journalism does is provide a code, or set of rules, to help the journalist overcome their personal preferences and prejudices in order to tell a story in a fair and well-balanced way.
If documentaries are the higher art-form of daily journalism, they need to adhere to these rules. When we’re making a documentary-style film for a client, we need to make sure we’re honouring this code.
So, how can a well-made documentary help tell your story and build your brand? As a starter for ten (or four):
Audiences, whether internal or external to your company, are savvy. They consume enough media to have a nose for when they’re being ‘fobbed off’. A brand film based on beautiful imagery and aspirational music is a legitimate form of marketing. It’s a long-form commercial that creates an emotional response in its audience.
A documentary-style film creates an intellectual response, and it needs to be as honest as possible. Through interviews, let your people be who they are; let them use language that is authentic to them. Let them be reflective and analytical (not the same as hyper critical). Play to the audience’s intelligence and trust that if your story is sound, the film will speak for itself.
At Embolden we love making creatively intelligent films, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years.
See examples of our work here:
Rebecca Denholm, Embolden Head of Film