An increasingly alarming trend as of lately (well, maybe for the past couple of years) is the fascination that some creators have with the gear they use to earn a living. It is not uncommon today, to see websites of production companies boasting 8K RED cameras, high-tech gimbal stabilisers, cranes, jibs and all sorts of gizmos that usually would make the average client’s head spin. Frankly, hand on my heart, I am often guilty of this too; luckily for me, I have been trying (with varying degrees of success) to shake this gear obsession as it can be quite disastrous to my pocket.
It’s worth to note, that I am not saying that the gear you use, and especially the cameras, which tend to get the most popularity points here, are not important. They are. However, the way most creators present themselves in front of potential clients can be a bit backwards.
While in reality clients will view you in a much more positive way if you sell your visual storytelling ability rather than the tools you use to get there as demonstrated with the following Kickstarter video by Font Awesome, who recently raised over $1 million dollars, much thanks to their awesome video, which was shot by Knox Avenue.
Unlike their previous Kickstarter campaign for Black Tie, which they shot, edited and directed themselves, this time around Font Awesome decided to seek the help of some professionals, who would be able to tell their story better. Here’s what the guys at Font Awesome said about their previous Kickstarter video they did themselves:
We wrote, directed, shot, and edited it ourselves. And it shows. The video quality is off, the whole thing had to be overdubbed because we didn’t know how to do audio, the background music is just terrible, and I am absurdly awkward on camera. It was bad. In spite of that, the campaign did raise a bit over 200% our goal, which was great. But we learned we needed to work with folks who actually know how to make phenomenal videos.
Their campaign was eventually successful, helping them raise over $71K (about 2x their goal) however it could have been done much better. You can see it here on their previous Kickstarter campaign page for Black Tie.
Image by Font Awesome/Knox Avenue
After a bit of research they were able to find the right production company to make their video thanks to a matching platform called Videopixie. It allows production companies to bid for their business.
We noticed a pattern during the Videopixie bidding process. Basically, any production company talking about their equipment (e.g. “we shoot in 4K!”, “Red camera!”, etc.) didn’t actually know how to use it that well. The really amazing production companies were talking about how to tell your unique story, which was precisely what we were looking for. And it was easy enough to verify their technical ability just by watching their recent videos.
After sorting through several bids, they chose LA based Knox Avenue Films who undoubtedly are some seriously talented people that were able to delivery a funny and offbeat promo piece in the vain of the now cult-classic Dollar Shave Club
Font Awesome wanted a share-able and engaging promo video, and given the usual explanatory nature of Kickstarter videos for tech companies, they decided to go the comedy route; a pretty difficult feat to pull-off, however the folks at Knox Avenue seemed like a great fit for these guys.
We wanted to do something different and more fun. We went back and forth with Knox Avenue several times on script revisions and tried to inject as much of our personality as we possibly could into the video. The filming process was super fun and super quick! They found this amazing little bakery in Burbank called Half Baked that was absolutely perfect for what we wanted. We spent 12 hours on site, filming at night from 6pm to 6am and had a blast. Then Knox worked their magic editing the whole thing together.
I think this is a great (cautionary) tale from the other side of the creative process – one that you don’t often read about or don’t often hear people talking about. Owning decent professional gear is important, but even more important than that is how you use it to get better at what you do and sell your ability, not the fact that you own a RED Epic-W for example. Or an F55. Or an AMIRA.