If you live in Canada, that means it’s Thanksgiving this weekend. As much as I love the turkey, wine, and other fall festivities that take place around this time of year, there’s one thing that I most certainly don’t look forward to at Thanksgiving: the awkward conversations with family members asking what you’re doing for work nowadays.
Don’t get me wrong, Thanksgiving is most certainly about reconnecting with family and spending time with the people you only get to see a few times a year – and about eating lots and lots of turkey.
The major complaint I, and various others in the video production industry (and the communication space in general) have, is that the large majority of people don’t understand what it is we do on a day-to-day basis. Sure, it gives us a chance to educate people close to us on new trends of the world, but for some reason these people never seem to really get it.
I guess it’s partially our fault, because most of us seem to assume that everyone knows exactly what we mean when we say we make videos for small businesses and major brands throughout the GTA. For some reason we never learn, given the most common follow up question I’ve received (almost 100 per cent of the time) is “what kind of videos?”
Surely if we had a better way to explain our craft to the average Joe we could avoid the awkward sigh and inner reflection that immediately ensues, normally followed up by a half-BSed answer about storytelling. If you’re done with these encounters, read on for a few ways you can better explain your job to your peers.
You are a storyteller.
No matter which way you slice it, if you work in communications, whether it be in video, corporate, public relations or marketing, a large part of your job revolves around storytelling. The only thing that changes is the story you’re telling and the audience you’re telling it to. Getting your peers to understand this point is the foundation to understanding your career.
You work with and for different people every single day.
Regardless of whether you work agency or client side, the likelihood is you work with people from the opposite side on a day-to-day basis, and it usually isn’t about the same thing. One day you might be drafting a pitch or a creative idea for a new client, and another day you might be tracking results or writing social media posts.
Video production is not easy to understand.
Depending on the scale of any given production, there may be three people involved, or there might be 30. The likelihood is, people won’t stick around to hear you explain what every crewmember on a production is responsible for, but you can give them the jist of it in a few short sentences. Directors are the visionaries – they see an image in their head and it’s their job to get the director of photography to share that same vision and execute it to the best of their ability. A director of photography is in charge of everything picture related, and depending on the size of the team, may operate a camera or instruct others to do it and work from more of a managerial role. Sound recordists do exactly what it sounds like they do (no pun intended) and producers put the whole piece together, from locations to composition and project management. Depending on where you fit in that team, you can add in an extra line because it’s more than likely you work in one of the few main verticals.
There are many different types of video.
This answers one of our main questions before and it definitely is an important one. To someone out of the loop, all videos are the same, which we in the industry know is very much not the case. There are corporate videos, which generally feature a talking head; branded content, which is more about user experience (cite GoPro here, people get it instantly); documentaries, which are fairly self explanatory; and features, which are full length films and generally receive private funding and don’t reflect any one particular brand.
Still not getting it?
If the person you’re talking to still isn’t getting it, don’t sweat it. Treat them the same way you’d treat a client – show them a video and let it do the talking. Whenever we try to explain something to someone who hasn’t been around video much, we use as many visuals as we can to assist. We might get caught up in corporate jargon or use an abbreviation which completely confuses our clients. If you find yourself in this position, pull out your smart phone, open a video and let your work speak for itself.
Have a safe, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Signature Video Group.
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