The reel deal – bringing stories to life on film

Film studio. Man behind camera and actors on a set with a large table

T’was a dark and stormy night, and the captain said to his shipmates, ‘Gather round, and I’ll tell ye a tale…’

dark and stormy night story

Stories are the frameworks of our brains, they’re how we make sense of the world and process information. If you want the attention of a human – tell a story.

Whether you know it yet or not, you have a story to tell and somebody out there wants to hear it (Although, please be aware, it’s probably not the person sat next to you at the bar after a few rounds of alcoholic refreshment). Same goes for your company, campaign or product. Basically, everything we do as an agency ties back to this – helping you find and tell your story – to the right people in the right way. To connect with them on a deeper level, tickle their curiosity, make them laugh, feel, care and remember.

If a picture (or 3 great sentences) can tell a thousand words, what can a 60 second video communicate?

A great piece of video marketing, brand film or social video hooks the audience right from the start, builds intrigue, holds their attention and leaves them wanting more. The structure of a story beyond ‘start – middle – end’ can vary and still be effective but some element of defying expectations is usually a good thing.

Always keen to push creative processes and outputs, Leap has been helping clients deliver impactful, purposeful videos since its inception and in the last 24 months the appetite for moving image has increased significantly.

We thought it was time to take stock of the work we’ve created recently and share some learnings. Here are a few hot takes from our team members on their approach, reasoning and secret sauce for approaching a moving image brief.

Nathan Lance, Leap Creative Director – The emotive connection

“When approaching any brief, I always like to focus on the emotive connection that needs to be built between the image and the audience. Whether it’s a three second high impact teaser or a four minute educational documentary, the need to keep your audience engaged is paramount.

Always keeping that connection in mind can help keep an objective lens during the production and progress of the project. When you’re in the throes of production, it’s easy to get too granular and focus on those little individual elements that, albeit have a level of importance, are not the reason the target audience is watching.

Another great way of putting the level of interest and connection to the test, is sharing with the world outside of the immediate creative team. Rough cut premieres for other co-workers in the studio can help gain ‘fresh eye insights’. By crafting a connection that draws people in and letting the story shine, we make sure that the brief is answered and targets are met – but in the most enjoyable and entertaining way.”

Nathan Creative Director VR workshop

Helen Johnston, Head of client services – Collaborative relationships

“As with any project, it’s essential to have a strong working relationship between us and the client and to work in partnership to achieve the best outcome – and hopefully a great experience through the process. It’s really important to be on the same page from the off, so that means agreeing on the brief and a set of clear objectives as well as an understanding of the various roles and responsibilities – so the client is happy with what is being asked of them in terms of time for meetings, feedback, supplying content, attending shoots etc.

We like to work iteratively with regular sharing points so that clients feel a part of every aspect, from the initial concept discussions to the storyboarding, any set design/casting, and all the way through to the final edits. Ultimately, we want to deliver a fantastic film that our client is super happy with and that connects with their audiences, hitting all of the objectives agreed at the start.”

Barnardo’s Life Labs – Cooking

Ioana Sabau, Project manager – Pulling together an A-team

“No two projects are the same. It is part of our way of working to look at each project with fresh eyes, in its own individual way. Being flexible in how we approach it and recognising that sometimes, bringing knowledge in from outside of the team can take projects to the next level.

We are always curious about the innovative solutions we can forge and sometimes collaborating with the wider creative industry is the right way to do that. The Places Called Home film project for IKEA and The National Lottery Community Fund was that kind of brief, where working with a set designer and tapping into their unique skills offered an edge, pushing it from good to great. Success hinges on finding the person with the relevant skills and fit for the particular project. As always, communication and clear objectives are essential, but also giving people the space and autonomy to do their best work.

The joy and passion of everyone involved comes through in a film like the Places Called Home project, and we love it when working with experts outside of the in-house team allows us to take an execution and turn it up to eleven.”

IKEA and The National Lottery – Place Called Home

Chevonne Johanning, Sustainability designer – Storyboarding for success

“Storyboards are the roadmaps for the videos we create. Creating storyboards kick-starts our design process – during the process it allows us to align and organise our thoughts and ideas, as well as solidify the key messaging and ensure we are conveying it in the best possible way. The storyboarding phase is a really enjoyable stage of the design process, as it is the first time we begin to see all our previous planning come to fruition.

We work collaboratively to problem solve and experiment with various design routes to ultimately create the most impactful visuals to hit the clients brief. The storyboarding stage also helps to highlight any future issues that we might run into and allows us to make the necessary changes before diving into the motion design.

It is always an exciting moment when we share our storyboards with the client for the first time and they get to see glimpses of how the final video will look. After making any final tweaks, it’s time to bring the frames to life!”

Connect Plymouth – Brand Film

Storyboard for Go Plymouth brand film

Don’t Cry Wolf – Brand Film

collage with storyboards from don't cry wolf brand film

Video and moving image as a means of communication will only keep growing and evolving. It’s a powerful – and highly effective – way to connect with your audience, let them be part of your story and inspire them to act.