What makes a video likable? 3 lessons I've learned


This is Spencer.  Spencer builds furniture.  A few weeks ago, Spencer asked me if I could help him create a video for him to submit to a nation-wide video contest for the power tool company, FESTOOL.  Now, if you have never heard of FESTOOL (like me), all you need to know that these some pretty nice (and expensive) tools.  And since the winner of the contest would win a bunch of free tools from FESTOOL, Spencer was pretty pumped about it.

The contest happened to come at a pretty busy time for me, so we only had a couple hours to plan and shoot the video.  I showed up at Spencer's house stocked up with plenty of gear:  my 5D mkii and my old trusty Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.  That's it.  I was in such a hurry, I forgot to even bring a mic or a tripod.  We decided just to make do with what we had, so I used the onboard (i.e., horrible) camera mic, and Spencer found an old tripod with no mounting plate.  I literally just held the loose camera steady on top of the tripod legs.  You can't get more ghetto.

We had a blast filming it though, and when all was said and done, we ended up with this:


Considering the total haphazard way we filmed it and lack of time to do anything in post except slice it up and throw some music behind it, we thought it turned out well.  It seriously demoed some of the cool features of the tool, but it also carried mine and Spencer's goofy personalities.  We were happy with the finished product, even if my inner perfectionist really longed for a more polished production.  

Well, turns out we weren't the only ones who liked it.  Shortly after submitting the video, Spencer received a personal email from one of the contest's directors, thanking him for the submission, raving about how awesome our video was.  Within a few days, the votes were in, and we actually WON the contest!  And not only that, FESTOOL's VP of Marketing personally emailed Spence and asked if we could produce more videos in this series...so the good news is, you'll DEFINITELY be seeing more of these in the near future!

But through this process, I learned three valuable lessons about video production (and life in general), and I want to share them with you here!

  1. Quality content trumps quality container - what I mean is that having solid content in your video, your art, your writing--even your own personality/character--is far more valuable than just having all your technical ducks in a row.  The actual content is just as powerful and important as the technical perfection of the piece.  I was bummed that I didn't have good audio, or that the camera was slightly out of focus, or that I didn't have time to do color correction, but even so, the content carried this video to the top of the pile, even past some much more technically perfect and polished films.
  2. People are moved by emotion - we watched some of the runner-up videos, and even though some of them were very professionally produced, none of them really hit home because they lacked emotion, or another word, personality.  They presented good information and they did it in a very visually appealing way, but there was a lack of authentic, real, human personality.  Whether your message is a heart-wrenching tear-jerker, or like this one, more light hearted and fun, people are moved by authentic emotion.
  3. Don't take it too seriously - Spencer and I knew we didn't have much time to film this, and we knew it would not be our most professional work, but we did it anyway.  We could've just thrown in the towel early, because we were "above" this level of work.  But we didn't.  We just acted like ourselves and had fun.  We had nothing to lose.  And look what came from it.  Now Spencer has a bunch of free tools and I've got some good steady jobs coming in!  Win win situation!  

Keep an eye out for the next FESTOOL promo by Spencer and Stuart.  We're pumped to have this opportunity!