Monthly Archives: November 2015

How to Make Epic Promo Films

By | Creative, film, productivity | No Comments

Want to create a powerful promotional video?  You probably already know that the right video can help you go places, but where do you start?  If you’re a video producer, or looking to make a high-end promo film for your brand, let me introduce you to my magical process. 

Disclaimer: I’ve been making promotional pieces for years, so realize the recipe is improved by attaining my “10,000 hours” in the creative kitchen.  Results may vary. 

The following steps show you how I worked with Lewis Howes on his book trailer for “The School of Greatness” which debuted #3 on The New York Times Best Seller’s List.  Watch it here, then read the process below.  

There are so many things that go into making a high quality promotional film like this one.  Some of our secrets included getting an awesome soundtrack scored by Lewis’s brother Christian Howes & producer Hamilton Hardin, and sourcing some of the footage I was shooting with major celebrities this Summer.  But the following steps are what I’ve boiled down as what made the most impact…

STEP 1:

CAST A VISION

I’m cheating here, because that’s the advice Lewis Howes gives in the first chapter of his book “The School of Greatness”.  But it’s the most important foundation for any endeavor.  I talked with Lewis at length about the “feeling” he hoped to evoke with the book trailer.  Early on, we developed a shared vision of the tone, shots, and underlying message the film would communicate.  Not only did we cast a vision for the film, we also visualized the positive impact it would have on his audience.  We started this process many months before his book release, because pre-planning is one of the most crucial ingredients to a successful launch.  When it comes down to it, all great video is comparable to alchemy.  The combination of scenes, music, and choice of words combines to create something bigger and more moving than you could have imagined.  And it all starts with solid storyboards that become your blueprint.  Our intention was to make something epic and aspirational, so striking visuals were #1.  But we also didn’t want it to seem like any other inspirational mashup, so a consistent look and cohesive movement throughout the piece were prioritized.  I also focused on shooting in the most epic locations possible which required some solid scouting.  Although we often didn’t have an official film permit, our crew is small and agile so we were able to fly under the radar.  The result: Remote beaches, Hollywood views, and trails off the beaten path.  

Lewis Howes athlete on beach on book trailer shoot with Jefe Greenheart

Lewis Howes being filmed by Jefe Greenheart on Zuma Beach for “The School of Greatness” book trailer.

 

STEP 2:

SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION

Remember to play to your strengths.  We identified two major advantages in approaching the project:

1) As a result of interviewing so many greats on his podcast, Lewis is friends with some of the most inspiring athletes/entrepreneurs on the planet.

2) I would already be going on a Summer tour across North America shooting branded content for Wanderlust, so I could schedule shoots with all these amazing characters along the way.

This helped dramatically reduce production costs, and made everything possible.  Although it made our travel schedule absolutely exhausting, it was all worth it for the experiences along the way. 

If you want to start a movement, there’s power in inclusivity.  Since the message of the book is bigger than Lewis, and shares the inspirational stories of others, we wanted to incorporate as many luminaries and modern-day legends as we could that represent the ethos of the book.  Those featured in the final project volunteered their time because they believe in what Lewis stands for and want to see him succeed.  When you have the backing of an army of awesome people, you have unlimited momentum.  By including and truly celebrating others, you create a spirit of collaboration and a sense of “we’re all in this together” that makes everyone feel like they’re invited to the party.  Since they shared the project with their audience, it amplified his message to a much greater audience.  So no matter how big your following is, when you include and feature other awesome personalities, it complements your promotional content.

STEP 3:

RELEASE CONTENT ON SLOW DRIP

As part of the campaign strategy, I thought it would be ideal to put the extra content that didn’t make the final cut to good use.  We made 10 instagram teaser videos (pitched 8, always over-deliver!), each told a short cinematic story of an athlete in training.  This was the perfect way to show off more beautiful footage we filmed with each person.  It also resulted in building more buzz in anticipation of the book release with all the social interactions generated.  We essentially provided fresh content every few days to keep fans excited about the book launch.  Meanwhile, Lewis was making appearances and doing several interviews each day.  With the added feature of a book trailer on his website, it acted as a way for readers to wet their appetite and feel connected with it.  Having a simple video book trailer is becoming the standard for successful book launches.  Having a cinematic trailer takes you to the next level. 

STEP 4:

PLUG IN THE MARKETING MACHINE

The rest is history.  Want to know what years of building a core audience amounts to?  Although Lewis is a first time author, he’s been building a huge following because he’s constantly giving.  Free training, inspirational podcasts, and more have helped make a name for himself in the online marketing world.  Beyond that, he’s fostered a network of entrepreneurs that support one another.  He’s also become clear on who he serves, which has resulted in an audience that knows him as well as he knows them.  He’s a guy that truly lives in the present.  If we had an idea about filming with someone, he’d immediately dial their number and get them on the phone.  I suppose it helps to have superstars on speed dial.  No matter how good your video is, you’ll need to have a marketing plan and release partners if you really want to make a splash.  Some of my most successful videos have been for brands that understand the value of leveraging their community.  

STEP 5:

LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE

The internet has become short attention span theatre.  Nobody’s proud of it.  It’s an easy target to criticize, and as a media producer it can be frustrating to try to share something of substance with the reality that most will click away or scroll down if your video lasts longer than a couple minutes.  That’s why we focused on a TRT (total running time) of 60 seconds.  As a result, you get more viewers re-watching the video to catch all the cool moments again.  Have you ever watched a movie trailer that completely gave away the whole story?  That’s just annoying.  What are the chances you’ll end up going to see that movie?  Feels like you already saw it, right?  That’s why any good promotional video should leave us asking more questions and inspiring our curiosity more than anything else.  It’s like an impressionistic painting.  You get the big picture, but it inspires you to walk closer to see more detail.  The beauty in the brush strokes.  There’s so much more meaning waiting to be explored. 

To learn more about the book and get your copy today (which I highly recommend), go here: The School of Greatness.

What kind of promo video do you want to produce?  Want to know more shortcuts and secret ingredients to streamline the process?  Sign up below and I’ll share more free tips from my Producer’s Blueprint for making great videos.

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Motivational Mondays : Embracing the Naysayer

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This year I’ve dealt with some big challenges. But that energy can either crush you or propel you forward. It all depends on your relationship with this one archetype that seems to cripple so many of us: “The Naysayer”. I’m learning that they are often well-intentioned individuals that don’t want to see you get hurt or struggle. They speak from experience, but they also limit us from breaking through our boundaries.

I’ve noticed myself slipping into this critical voice from time to time, and I hate how it seeks to stifle experimentation, progress, and risk-taking.
I want to be a voice of support and inspiration. I want to lift up my friends and point to the possibilities. And I want to find the strength within to focus and expand upon what helps my best self emerge. I think we all desire that on some level.

Why does the naysayer have so much power over us? I still have the words of some of mine stuck in my head from years ago. Jefe share’s some stories in this video…

Have a motivated Monday!

Moments of Magic

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Ode to this goofy guy and our wacky family.
My father-in-law Laren Schiller is constantly a great example of creativity and resourcefulness.
He can throw together a Halloween costume and a way to entertain the kids in no time. He dug up all these grubs (fated to be rhinoceros beetles) from the compost pile, and put them in a box labeled “Special Treats, take only one”. Both parents and kids were excited for what they may find inside, and everyone was universally disgusted…and delighted. His Bubba Redneck outfit with gnarly teeth was spot on.
This guy is a great example of the kind of Dad I endeavor to be one day. Always thinking of fun ways to entertain others.
We’re sad Halloween is officially over. It’s always a great excuse to get in costume and express ourselves. But that won’t stop us from continuing to find ways to dress up and bring a splash of color into everyday life.
Who do you look to as a mentor? I believe finding these figures is more important than ever these days… #Halloween #halloweencostume #happyhalloween #redneck #creativity #family #ghtv #alien #prank #greenheart #greenhearttv #dad

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Moments of Magic

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Remember that race I was telling you about!? I surprised myself and actually placed 3rd in my age division!!! Not so shabby for wearing big clunky basketball shoes and having danced my butt off at a Halloween party the night before.
The coolest thing about this journey has been working toward our fitness goals together as a couple. Kelly is making great strides, and we get to feed off each other’s energy and get inspired!
Kelly was a little nervous about rolling out of bed super early for a race, as she’s not too keen on competition. But it couldn’t have felt any better than what we experienced at the “Run for the Water” by the Gazelle Foundation. Each run participant funds one Burundi citizen the chance for clean water for life. What a worthwhile cause! Once you get out and do something meaningful, all the butterflies in your stomach subside. It’s the spirit of service & cooperation.
I think I’m getting hooked on the concept of charity runs, and have some ideas up my sleeve to make them more fun… As Gilbert Tuhabonye the race founder said, “RUN WITH JOY.” #gazelle foundation @run4thewater #fitness #running #burundi #ididitforsomeoneinburundi #atx #funrun #greenheart #ghtv #greenhearttv #lensoflove #5k #marathon #triathlete #training

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Moments of Magic

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Every once in a while we have to let out our shadow selves. Darkness reveals light.

Stilt walking for the grand opening of San Antonio Fashion Week #fwsa15
One of those nights where everyone was so gracious to have us perform and play with them.
How on earth did we figure out how to get well paid to do things we truly love!? That’s the path to pursue as an artist. For us : Dressing up, dancing like crazy, and sharing circus arts. At least on this particular night. The dazzling @yeskelly and @katieheyy by my side. Kelly made all the costumes, what a crafty lady!

So much fun!!! Was the perfect way to cap off a day filled with beautiful things.
Honestly, nearly had my first ever fall after I did a big kick and my peg’s rubber tip flew 30 feet away. Some partygoers happily helped me get it back on, so we could keep dancing together. I love people from San Antonio. They are so genuine and loving. So glad I grew up there.

Thanks @tonyrharris for throwing such a sensational event, we will never forget it!

#fwsa #stilts #stiltwalkers #happyhalloween #diadelosmuertos #tobincenter #greenhearttv #greenheart #ghtv #lensoflove #creativity #adventure #inspiration #art #artist #circus #costumes #halloweencostume #tall #sanantonio #sa

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Moments of Magic

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Fun times for San Antonio fashion week! I made all the costumes! It was so fun to perform in my art for a group of designers. #diadelosmuertos #ghtv #stiltwalking #corpsebride #fwsa15 #greenheartv #diy #sugarskull

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Moments of Magic

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After a night of Halloween extravaganzas we woke up bright and early for the @run4thewater 5k!!! It was my first race ever and it was so great. I definitely did not want to wake up this morning, but it was well worth it. Jefe placed 3rd in his division; yay Jefe!
My participation pays for one Burundi citizen to get access to clean drinking water for life. I was running for Longin Kigabiro Colline. #runforthewater #ghtv #greenheartTV #run #burundi #race #5k

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