Creating Dreams from Scratch

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R2R_001_070716_Brand_Through_VideoGood things begin to happen when a valuable message gains traction. One of the best ways to literally get more eyeballs on your content is to use video as your continent’s container.

About a year ago I got a call from an old friend.  She, like myself, was looking for a new way to push herself creatively and achieve her dreams.  Unlike me however, she had a vision of what she wanted to do immediately.  Fortunately for me, that vision included my skill and expertise.

Fast forward from that conversation one year and approximately 50 episodes later, Purse Empowerment’s Money Mondays with personal financial expert Shani Curry-St. Vil has steadily increased its viewership each month and achieved corporate sponsorship with a national brand.  Looking back at the beginning of the process in somewhat disbelief led me to ask, “How did this happen?”  and “How can we do this again?”  This is where I hope that you can get something from this.  A lot of this success can be credited with divine timing.  Talented people have come together to produce a consistent quality video product that has continued to build the Purse Empowerment brand. However there is more underlying the brand’s success.  I sat down with Shani really just to talk and reflect on how we came to this point.  Here are Shani’s four main points from our conversation.

  1. Perseverance
  2. Build a Team
  3. Have a Vision
  4. Start Where You Are

You can watch the conversation between Shani and I here.

I definitely agree with her on all of them. Afterwards I reflected and decided on four points of my own. Some of them overlap with Shani’s but you already know what they say about great minds.

  1. Build a Team
  2. Know What You Do Best and Stick with It
  3. Start Where You Are
  4. Work Begets Work

BUILD A TEAM

You don’t have to start with much. But you do have to start. Personally I was really trying to find a new direction for the studio. At that time I was primarily creating wedding and event videos and although the money was decent it wasn’t what I really wanted to produce.

When we first started the show it was just two of us. We shot the first segment, a 21 Day Challenge in 5 days. It took forever! We had to do everything.  I even lost some footage somewhere in the shuffle. Not one of the best moments. Fortunately for me we had the opportunity to reshoot because it was just us two or it would have been disastrous.  Even though we pulled it off to get the ball rolling I know the finished product could have been better if we had a team.

A good team allows you to focus on specific tasks and make sure they are performed optimally. At this point the production team has grown to include three additional members: a stylist, a make-up/hair artist, and a set designer. These additional talents complement the production needs and allow me to focus on the technical and creative aspects surrounding the shoot. What’s also nice is these additional members also have an eye for detail and bring creative suggestions to the shoot.  All of these members bring value to the finished product by enhancing the final image. A great bonus for sure.

Your new team members are probably already in your network. Remember there are only 6 degrees of separation. Use social media to discover unique people with talents and abilities that can take your production to the next level. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends. With the proliferation of video the chances are really high that someone in your immediate circle has gear and equipment or expertise that is going to add value to your shoot.  I’ve loaned my gear and borrowed gear from friends who also shoot. They know how it is are happy to help.

Even still, a word of caution. You do need to build a team. But build it piece by piece. It doesn’t have to be all at once. There is a point where the team gets too big for the production you are trying to accomplish and additional perspectives will slow you down. Team and group research suggests that the quality of decisions increases as diverse perspectives increase but so does the time to make these decisions. Preproduction meetings begin to be more important the more members you have in your production.  You are still taking the time for quality decisions but at least it’s probably at a significantly lower cost than the time on set.

 

KNOW WHAT YOU DO BEST

I’m really fond of the creative and technical aspects of creating and producing images. But even still I have my limits. To be truthful I’m not really good with colors. I know some color theory and have a general idea of what’s what but when people ask me does this match? or should I put this here or there? honestly I don’t really know most of the time. My colorblindness probably doesn’t help much either. I choose to and have to depend on those around me for those types of decisions.  Because others are capable in the areas that I’m not this frees me to focus my energy on the things that I’m good at. Our set designer for Purse Empowerment has really been a great asset for me here as in our initial first episodes it was all me for the art/set design(just as important if not more than the camera). Now I’m able to concentrate and work on the right shot for the scene that she creates.

On a larger scale, my abilities are really behind the camera in shooting and post production. I create the container and leave the content creation of course for Shani.  That’s what she excels at. The stylist and makeup artist create a beautiful image with the right wardrobe and makeup. It’s what they are good a and when the creativity begins to flow the whole production becomes larger than the sum of its parts.

 

START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

When we started the Purse Empowerment series I brought everything that I had. Which to be honest was some decent equipment. A DSLR camera, lights, and microphone are the basics. (I will make a list of equipment I use for the show for more detail soon) It was all things that I’d accumulated over time. I didn’t go out to pick up anything for the shoot even though there are some things that we really could have used. As for a location, we used Shani’s living and dining room.  She had some nice furniture pieces and a vase of flowers. Boom. Instant set. I used lighting to accent the subject and mute the rest of the surroundings. You might be thinking right now, but I don’t have any of that and you are absolutely right. But you do have something. Whether it’s an iPhone, desk lamp and a flooding chair, get some duck tape and make it work. Don’t get me wrong. There is a thing called production value and that’s what cinematographers and directors are always chasing. However, remember that content is always king. Your message is ultimately what’s important. Christopher Gardener who’s life the movie In Pursuit of Happiness was filmed after also wrote a book, Start Where You Are. Truly that is the most important piece of advice anyone MUST take. It’s sometimes the hardest thing to do. Especially since you haven’t done anything. One way to get started on what you want to do that has worked for me is to create an indirect habit.

I’ve been meaning to write and blog more often but I was never truly setting aside the time to get it done. It’s seemed that other things just kept getting in the way. Sound familiar? One week I was really frustrated with myself and I wondered if I would ever really get it together or just live in defeat. I challenged myself; almost gave myself and ultimatum: Run 1 mile everyday for a week or resolve to live never accomplishing your purpose. Perhaps a little dramatic but desperate times… It didn’t matter when or where or how just as long as it was 1 mile everyday for the week. I found enough strength to make it the first day, then it was the fact that I didn’t want folding on this simple task to be the metaphor for the rest of my life. At the end of the week I had completed 1 mile for each day. That simple show of dedication gave me enough strength to begin writing.  Now to find a way to continue is another story. Of course you need both but at least make the start.

 

WORK BEGETS WORK

There an old saying that you have to spend money to make money. I think the same can be said in terms of work. You have to do work to get work. Even if it’s for free. Nothing’s really free. You are still getting paid in experience. The money just makes it feel better. And of course you can upgrade your production with it but it’s not the end all and be all.

When I started the episodes for Purse Empowerment I was really looking for something more.  It’s always better to work and if you can, work on something that you want to do. People will see you doing that and then ask you to do that same thing. Be careful because you can become locked into this thing and it will be hard to get out. Or perhaps use that to your advantage. Since I started working on Purse Empowerment I’ve gotten more clients who want and need web series video. It’s been great to work with new people and the set variables are easier to control than run and gun events.  It’s also inline with where I see myself in the not so distant future as a feature film editor. Along these same lines, I’ve also noticed a similar type of clientele to whom now request work from the studio. This is probably because of the similar demographic Purse Empowerment attracts: female entrepreneurs looking to solve problems from their unique perspective.

Now to be fair there is a substantial amount of depth to each of these concepts and other components as well; much more than what we’ve covered here.  However, if I could narrow it down to just a handful of areas that will produce 80% of your results it would be the aforementioned.  So there it is. I hope that this helps your brand construction process.  I can’t state enough the importance of video in your building your brand.

Next month I will go through the equipment and process I use to produce Purse Empowerment’s videos and really videos in general.  Stay tuned for that.  Also, tune in to Purse Empowerment’s Money Mondays for personal finance insights and a bit of craziness too! If you are more geared like me to be behind the scenes, sign-up on the email list and I will send you an excerpt of my ebook Reel to Real packed with techniques and tips for better video now.

 

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