Film production has had to pivot these past couple of weeks. Our clients have come to us with a mindset and a willingness to take risks to turn disruption into advantage. More and more we’re seeing organizations do more with less to ensure they keep communicating.
One of the biggest misnomers of the current coronavirus crisis is the concept of 'Social Distancing'. Of course, we are all trying to give each other a wider berth than usual – and for good reason - but in many ways we have never been closer. How many people had called up an old friend for a chat and a beer over Zoom before this week? Or attended a 'virtual book club'?
Physical distancing, sure, but to label it 'social' distancing is to underline much of its damaging nature without highlighting how it has driven us to find new ways to create human connections. Humans are the ascendant species on this planet because of our power to adapt and communicate. How fascinating it is that this most challenging experience is driving us all to do both those things more than we ever have in our lifetimes.
Watching the news these days is quite an experience. Quite apart from what is being said, the way that it is being produced and shared is so unlike what we expect from professionally produced broadcast television. Seasoned political editors peer at cellphones, politicians film up their nostrils from laptops, even a CNN primetime anchor is reporting from his basement (laid low with the virus).
This crisis will change so many areas of our lives, most of them drastically more important, profound and tragic than the way we consume content. But content production and consumption is evolving. These changes are part of a trend that has been underway for years but they are being accelerated by the current situation. So much of the communications we consume have become about the quality being 'good enough' - it's often the content of the content that is 'king' after all.
Will it become harder to make the case for highly produced video when the CFO has realised just how 'good enough' a free Zoom video recording can be? Of course it will but just as beans on toast will keep you fed, it's the shared meal with friends and family at your favourite restaurant that will really get you going when this is all over. No matter how norms are stressed now, so much of what makes this great sector we all work in special - the people, the creativity, the teamwork - will live on.
My maternity leave was coming to a close, the survival-mode newborn section complete, and my vision of returning to work was all podcast-filled commutes, hot coffee and a thing I had a distant memory of called lunch. Shared Parental Leave switched to player 2 as I tagged in my husband. Then I was on my way back to work, ready to reactivate my brain, Heigh-Ho-ing all the way down the road. In reality, my return to work was somewhat overshadowed by a global pandemic – not a reality I had ever considered. I graduated from mum, to working mum, to working-from-home mum in a matter of days – and I’m still getting used to the promotion.
My morning commute is now more porridge than podcast, swiftly packing spoonfuls of the stuff into the ever-open mouth of my six-month-old-son. The only coffee on the menu is half-drunk and triple-microwaved and my lunch hour has a recurring calendar invite for quality family time.
Working from home as a new mum has been interesting so far. Sure, the first thing I Googled was ‘best noise-cancelling headphones’ and yes, I’ve had to use the phrase ‘just pretend I’m not here’ more than once (a day). But I guess there are always teething problems, especially when you’re dealing with a dribbly baby.
Living in London, floor space comes with a price tag. And with all the Snoozyhead and Sleepypod additions – no judgement, you’ll try anything when you’re chasing that elusive sleeping-through-the-night dream - I found it hard to mark out my workspace territory. Babies seem to have a knack for infiltrating each and every piece of personal space you have, or had – but now he was all up in my professional space too.
I’ve found the best solution is to be flexible. I move around from table to floor to balcony to hallway as needed throughout the day – a sort of slow interpretive dance around a tiny but relentless human. This way I minimise the frustration around interruptions and maximise my chances for a change of scenery and a quick leg stretch.
I also quickly realised that I was being pulled in two very different directions. Mum-guilt is standard, but now I had a new niggling worry: worker-guilt. I was apologising to my son for not spending time with him, not cuddling him when I walked into the room to get something, not picking him up as he reached for me when I was on a call.
But now I also found myself apologising to colleagues and clients at the start of video meetings, quickly explaining myself before my microphone picked up the low-level background shrieking. I’m a mum, a working mum, a working mum who’s working from home. But don’t worry, my husband is looking after him!
I soon discovered I wasn’t alone, that many people are in the same position. Every video call I join has another apologetic parent, bleary-eyed and over-stretched, quickly explaining. But now I know that everyone always has the same response – a sympathetic smile, a knowing nod, a shrug, a wave of the hand – all signalling for us to lower our collective parental apology flags and not to worry, it’s just life.
I have also discovered that the benefits to this intense situation are huge. Instead of squeezing my way apologetically onto a train every morning and night, I now get to have breakfast and dinner with my son. I can feed him lunch then put him down for a nap. I feel present every second that I’m not ‘at’ work and that’s pretty amazing.
I also feel like I am working at peak productivity. Like this experience has unlocked a part of my brain that I didn’t know existed before. As a parent I’m already in a state of perpetual motion – I’ve learned never to stop. So as soon as napping commences, it’s go time. Silence really is golden, and it’s during those moments that my brain is firing on all cylinders.
There’s definitely a survival of the loudest situation going on, and sometimes my day unravels into a dystopian thriller by mid-morning. But other days we move around each other in our awkward dance, surrounded by well-marketed baby gimmicks and cheese plants, and we all somehow manage to make it work. At the end of the day I feel balanced, like I managed to achieve working and parenting. I didn’t have to choose between them.
It’s a strange place to be in, and it’s taken me a few weeks to navigate myself to a space where working from home works for me. I guess what I’ve realised is that, for now at least, there isn’t my work-life and my family-life. It’s just life, and that’s ok.
You can see Bo star in our Staying Creative During the Lockdown video here.
The Corona Virus Crisis has led to some major changes in the ways we are able to conduct business. Business communications are more important than ever but the environment in which we're producing them has never been more challenging. To help you keep your business communicating, our UK Managing Director Oliver Atkinson shares his thoughts on what you can do to overcome some of the major obstacles...
1. Communicating During A Budget Freeze
Communication has never been more important but what do you do when budgets freeze and you don’t have the usual resources to produce your content?
The solution? You guessed it, time to take things into your own hands. While this might sound scary, just start self-shooting your internal comms and make sure you’re communicating effectively with your team. We’re in a world where things are upside down and there is a high level of personal and professional insecurity, so people will need reassurance and video is the next best option to being in a room with your team.
With a company email, yes, you get the information down but you miss out on non-verbal cues that let your employees see you are dealing with the current situation with empathy and compassion. There may be some hard decisions and conversations during this period, and the more leaders present themselves rather than hide behind press releases and official responses, the better.
If you need to continue producing client-facing content and the UGC or self-made route just doesn’t cut it, then it might be worth talking about a deferred payment option with your trusted suppliers.
2. The Deadline Was Yesterday…
Ok, so you’ve got a reduced team and budget but you still need to communicate. How do you hit the deadlines in a world that is changing daily?
I’m sure you’ve been keeping track of the Covid-19 updates globally, locally and, of course, socially - the memes, the endless memes!
This constantly changing environment means your content needs to be fleet of foot and if you want to release messaging that relates to the unfolding situation, launch your comms after two days or it may no longer be relevant. So, if you’re just about to spend six weeks creating a five-minute animation on your Corona response, you’ve been living in isolation with the curtains shut for far too long.
There are however fast turnaround solutions. Stock edits with a simple and short script, podcasts and spritzing text animations are all excellent ways of communicating quickly whilst keeping the production values high and impactful. Failing that, I suppose you could always create a meme.
3. Can’t Shoot
Lockdown means no camera crews and no shooting on location so if you want to create bespoke content there are a few options:
Dig into your archive to look at what you already have. Stock edits and re-cuts are a fast and effective way to get your message out there and if you’re using a company archive, you’ll be starting with a bespoke, on-brand look to your film.
If you don’t have existing content, there are still alternatives to shooting. We’re currently ‘shooting’ a virtual round table with actors at home playing out a boardroom scenario and Casual Films NYC have used Adobe Character Animator to turn a piece of home shot content into a fast turnaround character animation.
4. Corona Content Pollution
Covid-19 response emails have undoubtedly been flooding your inbox. Even without this current crisis there has been a huge amount of content to contend with online, but this global situation has hiked it up to a whole new level. That said, the same rules still apply.
Target your content at the appropriate audience. Make it creative, memorable and keep it on point. Remember, a creative approach doesn’t have to be expensive. You can do it yourself, just give yourself parameters to work within – this could be, delivering the message in one hundred and fifty-five words (which is a one minute duration on screen) or just simplify things making sure you have one key message. Think to yourself, ‘if I had to write this message on a t-shirt what would it say?’ So, for example my t-shirt would say, ‘Make your film easy to understand’... Thinking about it, I’d probably stick a Casual Films logo on the back as well.
5. The Remote Workforce
It’s hard to keep in touch with a remote workforce, but more than ever, your employees need to hear from you so think about frequent updates from the leadership team.
Broadcast periodically on multiple channels to make sure you are on topic and updating on the unfolding situation.
This needs to be two way, for example, you could set up a line manager Ask Me Anything hour, live streaming questions from employees, or you could produce a weekly video answering questions submitted by the team throughout the week.
Set a few topics for your team to film themselves while they’re at home. It could be home-exercise, how to keep the kids entertained or simply how to stop going insane… It is a great opportunity to collate a huge amount of content from your employees. Now, not everyone will be up for it and that’s of course, understandable, but I guarantee some will, and you could end up pulling together some inspiring stories to create a morale-boosting employee film. With a little guidance, you’ll be surprised at how many people give it a go.
6. Information Overload
Businesses need to make contact with their clients more than ever, and even though they’re all at home, your audience may still be time poor.
Rather than send out a long piece of comms, you could break it down into digestible pieces of content and release a new episode every day or every other day.
There is every chance this virus will have us all on lockdown for several months so make sure your content is relevant and don’t just splurge all your information out in one big email.
If you need more help to figure out an effective content strategy, we can help, so give one of our execs a call…If you need us, we’ll be… also at home.
7. Inconsistency and Mis-Information
Sharing content unrelated to Covid-19 is important but get it wrong and you could come across as tone-deaf or at worst, insensitive.
Make sure your communication is consistent and doesn’t cause confusion - a small focus group of trusted people within your organisation can help make sure you’re not unknowingly mis-informing your company and clients or omitting anything crucial.
There needs to be one clear voice from your leadership team. A video from the CEO is an easy win and a cost-effective route.
We’re currently working on a brief from a major publisher where the CEO is filming himself (with the help of his family) and sending us the footage to edit. We are also directing the shoot over a conference call to make sure the production values are as high and the tone is appropriate, but all the ‘crew’ work is being done in-house… literally. This is the perfect way of shooting an authentic ‘home’ message while ensuring the semi-DIY production set-up doesn’t interfere with clarity.
8. Cancelled Events
Events right across the world have been postponed or cancelled but if Elton John can pull off a virtual gig, then so can you! If you still want to go ahead with an event, you can, via virtual panels and roundtables using live-streaming or recorded presentations.
The benefit of recording your presentation is that you can add additional flourishes like animating the topics rather than speaking through a dodgy set of powerpoint slides. Think of this as your opportunity to make your presentation really sing. You could even add some video clips in as cutaways to illustrate your point (or cover up any awkward facial expressions).
Streaming gives you that live element that gets you closer to an actual event experience although you need to take into account bandwidth and connectivity issues as everyone is running their wifi at full tilt.
9. Low engagement
Eventually your audience will experience corona-content fatigue and will be looking for an alternative output to engage with.
You could look around for inspiring films and think about producing content that engages authentically. This is a time for the right tone and behaviour from brands, and if you come across as salesy or pushy you may experience a backlash.
Internal or external comms at this time doesn’t need to be policy driven, Covid-19 response, top down messaging… our post-production team created a track using found sounds while working at home. It performed extremely well on our social channels because sometimes people are just looking for something to make them smile. Oh and our resident baby employee Bo, also stole the show in his video on how to keep creative!
10. Clients Have Gone Cold
Your clients may have retreated into a comfortable Netflix hiding hole temporarily, but when this is through we will all need to communicate effectively to get things back up and running.
Shock will subside and brands will start to think about how they can reach their audience again. Listen through social, and seek out the available data to understand how you need to position your brand in this new landscape.
This quiet time is an opportunity to reflect and vaccinate your brand for the future, so call your clients, and keep having conversations to understand how the market is shifting. From history you can see that brands that keep marketing through recessions come out stronger on the other side. Create a plan but try to resist being too fixed in your approach. You may need to be agile and change your offering again, so have a few ideas ready to go.
Remember to keep celebrating important milestones and supporting the national effort with the right messaging. We’ll get through this, we just need to Keep Calm, keep communicating and … Carry on… and wash our hands … (oh and stay at home).
Our experienced global team are on hand to help you make your production a success - wherever you are, whatever the constraints. We'd love to talk so drop us a line and one of our team will give you a call back.
A guide to keeping your brain active when you’re a creative on lock-down.
1. No idea is a bad idea
Start with a blank piece of paper and write everything down that pops into your head. You can always filter it later on, and it might just be that seemingly random word or idea that kick starts the creative process.
2. Use what you have
Look around you and see what you can find to provide inspiration - books, films, articles, videos, even a walk round the garden - anything can spark an idea.
3. Collaborate with others
Bouncing ideas off other people in your team is one of the best ways to get creative - set up a call or video chat to make it more interactive.
4. Refuel Regularly
Eat breakfast to kick-start your day. Then take a proper lunch break to ensure that you’re refreshed and full of ideas for the afternoon.
5. Rest Up
Get plenty of sleep at night to recharge your batteries and be ready for another day of creating!
“A message to our customers”…you’re probably getting a lot of emails to this effect. A video can deliver this same message with emotion, honesty, and connectivity.
When the time comes for your organization to deliver a message to your employees or customers you may know what you want to say, but how exactly do you say it?
- Targeting - consider who the relevant audience is and tailor your message to them.
- Put your audience first – put yourself in their shoes to determine how you can help them best, and alleviate any concerns.
- Keep it simple – short and to the point. Provide a clear action.
- Be honest - indicate your intent on how to minimize the impact and follow up when more information comes to light.
- Tell them why - if your audience can understand the reason for the decision, they will be more inclined to support you and react with empathy.
- Take a moment - say thank you, show your appreciation for their loyalty or hard work.
Casual Films has a fantastic team of creatives who can help craft your video message, and a wealth of tips for video production. Get in touch to bring your message to life.
It is in a crisis that you start to see the goodness in people. We have already seen NHS workers in the UK being clapped as they enter the supermarket, strangers offering to help and support those most in need to buy food for them so they don’t have to leave the house and Arnold Schwarzenegger smoking stogies with a donkey…
Ok so maybe Arnold is just being Arnold, but one thing that is clear is our need for general human kindness. Our social channels are clogged up with free, feel good advice on how to stay fit, engaged and sane during the next few months working remotely. Influencers, celebrities and companies to name a few are all starting to give back.
With a wealth of live baking classes, home workouts and celebrity banter its got me thinking, has there ever been a better time to engage with your audience on social media?
Currently billions of people from all different walks of life are craving information and some form of escape from everything that is going on. People want to know what other people are doing, they want to see things that make them smile and laugh and they are searching for the next thing to follow.
It is time to rethink how you present yourself and your company, show how the business is coping, give people a little bit of hope, show them something that will make them laugh. You have an audience sat at home waiting, no, craving to be engaged through their laptops and phones. It has never been more appropriate for a CEO to record a message from their living room whilst in their slippers. I mean that’s what everyone else is doing so why not? People will love your sincerity and connect with you because of it.
Entire workforces have been forced to change the way they work so why not change the way you communicate with them and your customers. Now is not the time to hold back and shy away from what is happening - show all the great things that are still being achieved. Show Dan from accounts first time attempts at knitting, Claire from marketing trying yoga in her living room or Tom, a senior stakeholder giving his advice on how to juggle working at home with four kids. Because, it is this goodness in people that will get us through these difficult times and who knows you might just pick up a few new brand supporters along the way.
We're living through an unprecedented time. If there is anything that the Casual Films team can do to make things easier for you, please get in touch. We are keep to do what we can to help.
In the face of challenges posed by Covid19, production companies are evolving rapidly in order to continue making effective content in a way which is also safe. One medium which is largely unaffected by the recent challenges is animation.
Animation has the power to be the most agile and future proof piece of communication in your armoury.
When working with animation, we are not bound by what was shot on the day - animation is infinitely editable. With the knowledge your messaging may need to change in days, weeks or months, you can create an animation in a style that can be updated with minimal impact. This means your content can remain current and relevant without producing additional media.
When you create animation, you get much more than a final film. The process generates artwork that can be used as part of a wider campaign to create stills and banners. Cut downs and looping gifs can be used on social, so you can keep sharing your message without posting the same content.
Animation can work for all industries. It can show the past, the present and the future. It can take you to corners you can’t reach with a camera – you can even go to places that don’t exist.
Your content can be full of character, whether it’s abstract or type based. You can show complex data in a way that is much more engaging than a spreadsheet or slide, and more interesting than a long list of guidelines in email. You can be thought-provoking, emotive, humorous or serious.
Animation can be anything you want it to be in a time when options may feel otherwise limited.
Casual have been working on a range of solutions beyond our traditional animation offering to quickly and safely create content in our ever-evolving environment.
If this is something you are interested in and would like to learn more, please contact one of our executive producers.
We're still making videos (and podcasts!)
Amongst the constantly shifting landscape created by COVID-19, we understand how important it is to keep your lines of communication open. Be that internally to your staff, or externally to your clients and customers.
Our entire team is set up to work remotely, ensuring we can still produce our films with the highest production values.
In this post, you will find our solutions to creating video content in these challenging times to keep your business running as usual.
Why should you be sharing content now?
- No one likes radio silence. Be that internal or external, your audience want to hear from you, especially right now.
- If you thought making a film means having a physical crew on the ground, you’re in for a pleasant (and cost effective) surprise.
- Reassure your employees and keep them motivated by showing them that you still care about making content for them.
- Your clients want to hear from you. Everyone is trying to muddle their way through this uncertain time and they want to know how you’re doing and how you can continue to service their needs.
- There are so many options for creating high quality, quick and cost effective content. See how we can help on the following pages…
Turnaround time: 2 days
Cost: £3,000 / $3,500
Turnaround time: 4 days
Cost: £4,500 / $5,999
Now more than ever, how you communicate with your clients, employees and stakeholders is of the utmost importance. Rather than sending a cold mailer, it is much more reassuring for them to hear your voice. Podcasts are the fastest and most cost effective way of speaking directly to your audience.
We’ll set you up with the required microphones and recording equipment, sending them to you via post and then helping you to virtually set up the equipment. You would then record your podcast, and send us the raw files. From here we will tidy up the audio, edit as required, and add sound design.
If you wanted to make the creation of your podcast content go even further, we could create shorter 30 second edits summarising the key messaging and use animation to bring these to life as short videos.
Here is a series of podcasts that we produced for WSP. They already had their own recording equipment set up, so once they had recorded their audio, they sent us all the raw files and we created the podcasts for them.
Turnaround time: 2 hours
Cost for 5 podcasts: £4,000 / $4,000
Reediting: You already have so much content - why not use it?
Ok, so it might not be feasible for us to film on location with you any time soon… but did you know that we hold onto all of the footage we have captured for you previously? This means we’re on standby to create a cost effective repurposed film whenever you need it.
In these instances, we carefully grade the footage to give it a consistent and on brand look and feel throughout. Watch how we grade our films here.
Alternatively, we could use your existing assets to create an animation, similarly to a series of films we produced for WSP.
But what if you don’t have any existing footage? We could create a bespoke edit using our wealth of online stock footage, communicating your messaging with a voiceover, spritzing text or dynamic typography…whatever you need to get your message out there fast!
Re-edit of existing footage
Turnaround time: 8 day
Cost: £6,00 - £8,000 / $ 6,000 - $10,000
Turnaround time: 1 week
Cost: £5,000 / $7,500
Turnaround time: 4 days
Cost: £5,000 / $5,000
Virtual meetings & event solutions
During this unprecedented time, many planned meetings and events will be happening remotely. But there’s no reason why you can’t share them with a wider audience.
Using the latest tech, we can remotely capture video chats and virtual round table discussions from anywhere in the world, allowing you to bring your speakers to your audience, wherever they may be.
Once captured, we’ll edit and package the footage. This could be a full version of a round table discussion, or the key takeaway points from a Skype call. We can animate power point slides in time to your presentation, or even bring the content to life through animation, similar to this example.
So if you’re thinking of cancelling or postponing an event, meeting, pitch or presentation, get in touch and we will find a way to make this possible virtually when you can’t be there in person.
Skype or Round table discussion - record & edit
Turnaround time: 2 days
Cost: £4,000 / $5,000
Skype or Round table discussion - animation
Turnaround time: 6 weeks
Cost: £12,000 / $15,000
Powerpoint presentation animation
Turnaround time: Project dependent
Cost: £8,000 / $10,000 for 15 minutes
If you want to discuss any of these techniques - or anything else that we can help you with - please either drop your Exec Producer a line. If we haven't met yet - hello! - get in touch via our contact us form and one of the team will give you a call back.
Our team are standing by to offer you any assistance we can, to help you through this challenging time.