Corporate Video vs. Hollywood Productions: It’s Not as Different as You May Think

April 15th, 2015 Vern Oakley

HollywoodI’m fortunate to have had an enjoyable and exciting career in production so far. For over a dozen years I worked in Hollywood at several different film and TV production companies, based at both Paramount Studios and on the Disney lot. I had a lot of exposure to talented directors, producers, actors and crew. Being part of the entertainment community made going to work every day an unexpected adventure.

When I moved back to the East Coast, I thought I’d try a different category of production. I wanted to get into the world of corporate film and video, and so I landed a position at Tribe Pictures. I was pleasantly surprised, once I got here, to find out that the work wasn’t that different from what I had done in my Hollywood days. Here’s how.

Targeting Your Audience
When making a film or TV show in Hollywood, one of the first things to consider is the demographics of its target audience. For example, is the film or program a Four Quadrant project? By that we meant whether it would appeal to Males and Females under 25 and above 25 – basically for people of all ages – or only one or two of the quadrants.

When we make a film at Tribe, one of the first questions we ask our client is, ‘Who is this film intended for? Is your audience internal, or external? For employees? Leadership? Shareholders? Potential hires?’ Just like in Hollywood, this is one of the main things we take under consideration when producing our work. It will dictate the tone we’ll take in the script, as well as the messaging itself.

Honing the Creative Process
In Hollywood, scripts go through so many changes. You can run through ten writers on one screenplay before the film ever gets in front of the cameras. Plus you have the directors, producers and studio or network executives adding their feedback and thoughts. In the world of corporate films, a script or concept often goes through many iterations, too. The writer works with the Creative Director to establish a vision, to which the Director and/or Producer may want to add or embellish with additional insights and ideas. From script to graphics to music, there’s a lot of creating and strategic thinking that goes into the details.

Test Screenings
After a film is made in Hollywood, a studio or network holds special screenings before the general audience sees it. In these tests they bring together a cross-section of the general population to see how the film or TV show “plays”. Depending on the audience response, the project could go back into production or into editing to fix elements of the narrative or content that weren’t resonating with the audience. There is a lot of tinkering that goes on.

At Tribe, we go through a scaled-down but similar process. Before a client sees their film or video, we screen it for the entire staff, where everyone is encouraged to speak up and share their thoughts. Not only that, but the first cut goes through probably six or seven versions before the client ever sees it. Indeed, our first cut isn’t really true to its name – we should call it our First Client Cut. As is often the case, there may be many more before we’ve captured the message, the emotion and the response that the client is looking to achieve.

Although these similarities between corporate production and Hollywood weren’t apparent from the outside, once I dove into the work at Tribe headfirst, it became quite clear I was picking up right where I left off from my entertainment days. The creative thinking, production value and attention to detail that go into each and every project is Hollywood-caliber from start to finish.