We often find ourselves talking to brands who know they want to engage audiences online but aren’t sure how. “Invariably the answer from the above the line agency is, ‘We’ll cut down the TVC and shoot a behind-the-scenes film.’ Here we asked him to talk about his role as European President at MOFILM, a unique platform that inspires filmmakers to create videos for brands and social causes.

June 2015

I spent 27 years working for advertising agencies in Europe, the UK, in Latin America, the Middle East and the States. The machine was all about the television ad. But it became more and more apparent to me that brands could differentiate if they could demonstrate what they were about. At Mofilm, the idea was for brands to start having conversations with the public about their values and issues that were relevant to them, driving discussion through long-form content rather than a didactic one-way television ad.

We started working strategically with brands on helping them go from just giving a creative brief to an agency to developing a content brief, a storytelling brief. We have 50 to 100 briefs out there, and amazing community of 50,000 filmmakers have a look at what stories they’re interested in filming. So rather than an agency telling the filmmakers what they should shoot, they get to do what they think is right. These are Millennials telling stories to Millennials – they ring true.

This is all a technology play, because the cameras that we use today are very, very affordable. What we’re really seeing is democratisation of creativity. Any filmmaker around the world can get access to a Canon or a Red – so the work is broadcast quality – and then they can edit it on their computers. Our online platform is an exchange that connects these filmmakers directly to brands.

You also need a platform to the people will engage, and that’s where YouTube is the perfect partner for all this, because what it actually does is allow these wonderful filmmakers to connect with the world’s biggest brands. And once the clip is on YouTube that allows brands to connect with an audience.

In the last project I did at an agency, I counted 24 people between the filmmaker and the marketing director. These films we’re doing now have just three or four; so that’s 20 people who don’t have to slow down the process, give their opinion and add cost. It’s very much a new, open-source ecosystem, and that’s what’s so exciting. You get into this publisher model where the role for the brand is to go from being a creator of content to a curator of content. But in order to be a curator, you have to start from a point of view. To me that’s so important, and that’s why some brands are winning and some are not.

The community we’re working also includes Academy Award winning, Sundance winning filmmakers. You kind of sit there thinking, “Would they want to work on brand content?” Absolutely! They love it because they’re getting a chance to shoot incredible long-form content. The thought of doing something with freedom that they can turn around in six weeks and then have it be seen by a billion people – it’s a dream for a documentary maker.

For anyone who wants to make content in this space today, first and foremost your work to be strategically relevant to the brand. We’ve learned time and time again audiences are very happy with brands to be there; they quite love it actually! They don’t even mind if it’s not in the first 15 seconds. They’re happy with where it comes from – as long as there’s a strategic relevance to the brand. Secondly, because tools and platforms like YouTube make it easier for anyone to be a blogger, journalist, musician, filmmaker or artist, I think now it’s even more important to have a point of view.

This whole kind of shared economy is the way forward. Technology enables it. Technology demands it. Technology and Storytelling is the connection for the digital Millennial Age. You’ve got talented people out there who are really open to working this way. As long as the brand understands that they’re collaborating with these filmmakers and that the aim is to engage an audience that can very easily turn off the computer, then it’s a wonderful world.