Dave Sinclair, our tame film-maker extraordinaire comes to the sofa of success to talk about all things video. Some great tips here about getting the very best shots, even when the subject is a little reluctant to be in front of the camera…

Video Transcription

Good morning. Good Morning. It’s Rach here, an award-winning award writer with The Awards People, and I’m sitting on the Sofa for Success with my chum, er, Dave Sinclair, Filmmaker Extraordinaire. Erm, and we’re gonna talk all things video.

DS: Ooh, okay.

RH: Fab.

DS: Yeah.

RH: Dave’s my go-to person, erm, for anything to do with video, and I’ll tell you for why. Well, there’s many reasons why, but the biggest reason I work with you, Dave, is because I don’t feel a twit when I fluff up, and I don’t feel self-conscious—

DS: Okay.

RH: – in front of the camera. And I think that is a huge limiting factor for people. I think there’s two things. I think people think that video is really expensive, and I think people are terrified of being in front of the lens.

DS: Yeah.

RH: Those are the two biggest things.

DS: Yeah.

RH: Let’s get straight into it. Deal with those two.

DS: I’ve done enough filming now to realize there are two types of people: introvert and extrovert. So, people who love to be in front of the camera—Me! Me! I wanna be in front. And then there are the ones that particularly don’t want to be in front of the camera, and they are the ones that are challenging. And, erm, it’s good to work with them, to say, “Look. There’s only me and you in the room and a camera, and you just need to relax. And we can talk slowly about what we’re gonna talk about and film it in such a way that if you make a muck-up, it’s not a problem because we can just reshoot it.”

RH: Mm. It is amazing what you can do in an edit, is it not?

DS: I—it is. And, and what I’ve recently purchased is the world’s smallest autocue, and it’s, literally, about that big. I purchased it from America. Comes with a Bluetooth remote control. It screws onto the end of any of my lenses, so it’s portable. So, if I need to walk and talk, we can do that. All of the text that’s written out beforehand is then sent in an email to my phone, and then with the app that comes with the product, I can then show it on a one-way mirror and all they need to do is look into the lens and read. It’s the—

RH: Even for specky four-eyes like me? I could still read it?

DS: Even for you, ’cause I can adjust the font size and the scroll, erm, speed, and you can hold it in—you know, if we’re doin’ a heavy shoulder-shot, for instance, you can actually stop-start-stop-start. Do a lot filmin’ at the hospitals here in Leicester, and we, erm, invariably we get doctors and nurses to talk. They definitely do wanna—well, the nurses definitely don’t wanna be in front of the camera. So, it makes life a lot easier for them if they’ve written out what they want to say. There’s no “erms” or “ers” or—what’s really hard is if you have the type of person that is, “Okay, I can do this. Let’s do it off-the-cuff into the lens.” And then—just say, for instance, they’re talking for about a minute, three-quarters of it they then fluff. And you think, “Ah.” And you’ve gotta start right back from the beginning unless you’ve got a cutaway scene to go to, which is okay. You can use overlays, and then say, “Well, let’s go back one sentence and then we’ll pick it up again.” But if it’s a live-type thing, you know, straight into the camera, it’s easier just to read off an autocue.

RH: Mm.

DS: So, put people at ease. Erm, use an Autocue if possible. Know your subject that you’re gonna be talking about. Prepare yourself. You’ve gotta prepare before the event and not on the morning of—

RH: Mm.

DS: – ’cause you’ll be flustered already. And then if you think, “Oh, I’ve gotta write this out. Well, uh.” And then time is money and, of course, what should’ve been a maybe half-hour shoot turns into longer.

RH: Let’s talk money, friends.

DS: Yeah.

RH: Erm, so, you know, do you cost a bazillion quid for every shoot you do, Dave?

DS: No, I mean, it, it’s literally horses for courses. Some, erm, companies have lots of budget. B&Q, one of my first clients. Well, the first client I ever got. They had a £5,000 budget, and they said, “what can we get for that”? Er, £4,350 later was the invoice, but because I knew they had £5,000 to spend, I hired in extra guys. I even included a Jimmy Jib Lite which is a, a big crane on wheels, and, and it made the production so enhanced. You know, coming over these, these stands are being cued, or being pushed around. So, it’s, it’s budget-related. But if someone said—

RH: What would the other end of the—

DS: – the other end of the scale. If someone said to me, erm, “I’d like to do a promotional film.” If it’s shot in one day, and then I can edit the following day, you probably are looking at £750 [indiscernible 04:20].

RH: Not yet, honey. Seven hundred and fifty squids, but what could you do with that? If we—Pete Frost from Unity who usually joins us on the sofa, we will pick up with him next time. He’s, er, busy this month so he can’t join us today on our filming day. Erm, so, missing you, Pete. See you soon, pal. Er, but we’ll talk to Pete about stickability ’cause that, for me, is the, the, the big thing with all things online. Erm, if you can’t do anything, yes, put some text up. If you can do something a little more, put an image with your text. But if you can get video on there, it’s some of the—the results that clients—Karen Cureton, who was on the Sofa of Success—

DS: Yeah.

RH: – before, er, the difference it makes to followers, engagement, retweets on Twitter, er, shares on Facebook, the LinkedIn shares is phenomenal. People are time poor. Er, they want, er, information sent to them in an easily-digestible form. It’s so much easier to click and watch a video, er, scroll to the bits you wanna see rather than wade through text, er, so the difference is phenomenal. So, that 750 quid, erm, which, frankly, is a bargain anyway, especially it’s easy for me to say because I know what you put into it and how you work with clients, and that’s why I refer you to mine. Erm, but it’s, it’s—the difference it makes is well, well-worth considering. So, having dealt with the big two topics, hating being in front of the camera and price—

DS: Mm-hmm.

RH: – let’s turn it into, erm, why we’re talking about video when we’re talking about awards. And I think the reason I was particularly keen to get you on the Sofa, Dave, is because there’s two real things, er, that come up. Just recently, a client of mine was shortlisted for, erm, a big award. Er, she had to go in front of a panel of judges. She couldn’t because she’s on a cruise with her family. Erm, best one in the world, you ain’t gonna get a Skype even, really, on cruise ships. So, she was having a bit of a moment about missing out being in that room. Is the paper copy good enough when you’ve got people presenting live? And she was up against some big competition. So, I said “What about a video? Get a video ’cause if nothing more, it will remind the judges that you are in this competition.” Erm, it’ll give her an opportunity to state her case.

DS: Mm-hmm.

RH: So, that was one thing that came up. And the other thing that I was just mindful of just recently is a lot of awards will allow you or encourage you or even require you to put supporting evidence in, and that evidence doesn’t need to be more words. It can be images. It can be PowerPoint, but it can also be video.

DS: Mm-hmm.

RH: And having just said what we’ve said about people being time-poor, none more so the case than with judges, er, and the amount that they have to shift through. So, sometimes a video can be really powerful. So, I just wanted to pick up with you in terms of making best use of video in those kinds of circumstances, so either to, to film for supporting evidence or to film to go in front of judges. So, I guess the supporting evidence one is very much around what story you’re tryin’ to tell. What messages are you trying to tell? How much information do you need from client in terms of you, then, being able to bring your expertise and say, “I wouldn’t do it like that,” or “Perhaps a little bit more of this,” or “I think you’re over-complicating it.”? How, how can a client get that information to you?

DS: Well, I’m a big storyteller. It’s sort of when I’m in a film, I’m not, I’m not into films with text at the bottom of the screen because ultimately you will start reading them, and then, of course, you’re not watching the film. Ideally, a professional voice over would be fantastic telling a story. You’ve already written out that narration, and it’s, it’s pitch perfect. There’s no “erms” or “ers” in it. There’s no mistakes. You’ve got everything right. It’s just telling the story. If you’re then going to, in your client’s case, not be able to make it and they want to shine in front of the judges, you have to tell a story. Who you are. When you started. Services that you offer. So by the end of the film, the viewer, or the judge, should be able to say, “I know fully what this person is all about.” But you have to do it in such a way that you are peppy, you’re animated, and you’re not a wooden block because if you are scared, and I’ll just use The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent as an example, when the judges see these people on the stage, if they are scared, it comes over that they’re scared. And you actually—and I’ve done it before, I’ve watched them, and you think—you cringe on behalf of the person because you feel, “Come on. You can do this.” So, it’s a matter of portraying yourself in such a way that they—it’s the likeability factor.

RH: Mm.

DS: You’ve just gotta deliver it in such a manner that you are remembered, as Simon Cowell always says.

RH: And then, I think, our viewer, morning, er, will be saying—

DS: Yeah.

RH: – will be saying, “Well, that was easy for you to say, but if you’re terrified of being in front of it, how do you do it? And the top tip I would give to you is, is work with somebody who makes you feel relaxed, who you can be yourself with. That’s why I work with Dave, you know. I will jiggle the schedule around for The Awards People vlog filming, erm, to make sure that we can work with you. We just sat before we filmed this, actually, and put in the dates until January.

DS: Mm-hmm.

RH: Dave’s got a really big project coming up, and it’s really taken one month out, so we’ve added a bit more time into the month before and a bit more time to the month afterwards, so we could still capture as much content as we want. And to all intents and purposes, nobody will know that we didn’t film in that particular month.

DS: Correct.

RH: And I do that because I’m comfortable working with Dave. I know that people who’ve joined me on the Sofa of Success, some have huge personalities and loads of confidence, and others like wet rags. [Indiscernible 10:02] when they walk in. And you have a way of being able to get—

DS: But they leave saying, “Well, actually, that wasn’t as bad as what I thought it was gonna be.”

RH: Yes!

DS: It’s just a chair.

RH: Yeah.

DS: And, and once you get into it, I mean, we’ve had some—you’ve had people on the sofa here where I think this is gonna be quite a short chat and it’s ended up being, like, 18 minutes long.

RH: Mm.

DS: And it—

RH: And it’s good content, you know.

DS: Yeah, it is.

RH: I’m not gonna shut people up when they’ve got great things to say because that’s the whole point of getting people to share their knowledge—

DS: No. Yeah.

RH: – insights. And we all win, don’t we?

DS: Yeah.

RH: Erm, so, in terms of the video for the judging panel, I hear that. It’s about storytelling. It’s about your time to shine. It’s about leaving those judges with that information about you. Bringing your story to life.

DS: Mm-hmm.

RH: Making sure that they understand why you should win. That’s not the—now is not the time to hide our light under a bushel or be all British. You’re not there. You’re having a fantastic cruise with family, or in the middle of Borneo or wherever. Erm, you need to make sure that those judges who will watch that video are absolutely clear why you should win that award. And you can be very straight and say, “So, the reason I think I should win this award is,” or it can come out through very clear messaging throughout. Less is more, I think, is a mantra that you’ve—

DS: Yeah, definitely. I’ve just done a video, erm, two days ago, erm, produced and finished it last night. Showed them, and it was a minute and seventeen seconds long. And he says, “Can we knock off 30 seconds?” And it already was fairly short and concise, I mean. It was about a wheel, a wheel balancer, and, erm, I’ve worked with this particular company for ten years, so I know how to film their products. But, interestingly enough, from ten years to now, my client wants it shaved off even further—

RH: Mm.

DS: – because we’ve become—it’s normal now to have a mobile phone to watch your videos.

RH: Mm.

DS: And the attention span seems to have shortened.

RH: Mm.

DS: So, you know, you can pack a lot into 45 seconds.

RH: Mm.

DS: A powerful, powerful message—

RH: Mm.

DS: – ’cause people probably won’t want to watch—er, they will watch it if they’re engaged and there’s a story behind it, and they think it’s worth sharing, but 15, 20 seconds in, if they’re not really gripped, they’ll probably [swiping sound] and move on. So, yes. Short videos are powerful, as long as they’re filmed correctly and done professionally. It looks good. Colour-graded. The sound quality is good, then, erm, chances are, somebody will watch it to the end.

RH: Tops. Now, in terms of, erm, using video as supporting material, clearly it depends what the supporting material is there to support. Is it there to support a specific answer as I was doing yesterday for a client for the Food Excellence Awards, erm, and each question requires a supporting document, so, or a supporting piece of evidence? So, clearly, that supporting piece of evidence has to support the question it’s related to. But more usually, the end of completing an online award entry because most of them are online now, er, it’ll say, erm, “Here’s your opportunity to upload a maximum of two documents, high-res photo of yourself—

DS: Mm-hmm.

RH: – logo, video links. So, it’s more about the general piece, but not too general. We do, sometimes, have clients who will send in the corporate video. Sometimes, yeah, it’s relevant to use as a link, but other times it can be too general.

DS: Mm.

RH: The supporting evidence is there to support the award entry you are entering. And I know that sounds really obvious, erm, but it is the biggest thing that, that I find is the, the general stuff creeps in.

DS: Mm.

RH: It’s filler. If it’s not relevant, don’t put it in.

DS: What is waffle.

RH: Yeah. It’s [sighs]. It, it comes back down to this time thing. People don’t have the time to watch it.

DS: You, you watch any advert on television. All the dialogue in any advert is there for a reason. There is no waffle because time is money.

RH: Money. Literally. [Laughs] Literally. So, in terms of, kind of, top three tips for preparing a video for supporting evidence, my three certainly would be: make it relevant to the award entry you are entering. So if it’s the Lloyds Bank Business—National Business Awards and you’re entering Entrepreneur of the Year, your clue’s there. It’s a national, high-profile award and you’re entering Entrepreneur of the Year. That is not the time to send a corporate video in. If it is, potentially, Business of the Year, possibly send in your corporate video.

DS: Mm-hmm.

RH: If you are—if you decide that you’re going to use video as part of your—or all of your supporting evidence, go back to what Dave was saying. Story, message, write it out. Clear, brief to Dave or, an, a Dave? There’s only one Dave, isn’t there?

DS: [Laughs] Dave. Eh?

RH: Stud. Erm, get the right person to work with you, and then try and view that end result as the judges would. Pick fault with it. Not through just being a, a nasty critique person, but critique it in a way that helps you to get the result you want out of it. And then, also, look at it and say, “Right. Where else could we use this? Could we use it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, the website?”

DS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

RH: Make it earn for you.

DS: And even if you wasn’t successful—

RH: Yeah, absolutely.

DS: – it’s still usable.

RH: Absolutely.

DS: If you’re payin’ for it, why not show it out? You can say, “I’ve been nominated for,” or “I put myself in for,” and here’s the video.

RH: We’ve had clients—

DS: “I won,” or “Sadly, I didn’t win, but here’s the video.”

RH: We, we’ve done stuff before, not with videos, not yet, but, er, we’ve done presentations for, to support product of the year or innovation, and those, er, presentations have actually then gone on to form the, the basis of sales pitches. So, nothing is ever wasted.

DS: No.

RH: It all has great onward use. And even if that video that you’ve created for the supporting evidence for that particular entry, even if it’s slightly, slightly—it’s skewed to that purpose and when you look at it you think, “Erm. We could reuse it, but we might just need to lose that bit or that bit.” Again, you know, 10, 20, half an hour in minutes [indiscernible 16:34]—

DS: It’s a project. Yeah, you just reopen the project and take out, swap out, put in the new bit.

RH: Yeah.

DS: Re-render. Push it back out.

RH: It’s about flexibility, friends. It’s about flexibility.

DS: But the key thing is, though, with video is, is not—and I’ve done 250 promotional films, particularly for hotels, bars, restaurants, health spas, once they’ve got that video in their sticky mitts, they’re all, “Yeah. I’ve got a film. I’m gonna go and show it.” And then the novelty wears off. A month later, they aren’t pushing it as much as they were in the first week. Well, that video is there forever. You should be use—it’s part of your tool in your marketing to raise awareness of whatever service you’re offering.

RH: Mm.

DS: So, it’s not just push it out in the first week and then forget about it and then think, “Well, I don’t actually know if he’s doing anything for us anymore.” You’ve gotta keep using it. And use the hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday, #MotivationalMonday, and then put your, put your video out there again. And use your circle of friends to be able to push it out because each friend has got their own circle of friends, and before you know it, your video is gonna be seen quite a lot.

RH: Yeah, I mean, if you, if you @CorpMotion, for instance, Dave’s company, he shares videos that he creates. He shares them anyway, doesn’t—don’t you, but when he captures that on his Twitter feed—

DS: If I can.

RH: Of course, yeah, with your clients’ permission, but he captures when you, you send your video out, if you tag Dave, then he sends it ’round. That’s his group of influence. Erm, but oh, we are getting on to the social media/digital marketing area.

DS: Yeah. Yeah.

RH: I think we better be careful. Otherwise, Pete will be in here with his big stick.

DS: Oh, okay.


RH: No, he won’t. But it is all inter-related, isn’t it? Video doesn’t exist in its own bubble. Social media should never exist in a bubble. [Indiscernible 18:14] and collected, it all adds value for you.

DS: It’s powerful. But if used wisely.

RH: Correct, my friend. Correct. So, if, when you’re thinking about your award entries, you know when you look at those dates, I definitely can’t make that judging panel because I’m away, in hospital, on maternity leave, whatever. Don’t dis-consider that award entry. Think about how, er, you can use other medium like video instead. Get somebody on board with you who can really help you to deliver it. Dave.

DS: And that’s not £750 for an award-type video. That’s a promotional film where there’s a lot more work involved. No, not for—

RH: I feel a deal coming on, friends.

DS: – if you can’t make it for the day. Yeah, definitely, nowhere near £750. That’s for sure. No.

RH: Well, if I keep him here any longer, it’ll be free. [Laughs] No. [Laughs] Why don’t we get Dave to do a competition? That would do [indiscernible19:07] to competition.

DS: Well, actually, first of August, erm, I’m gonna be doing something. Don’t know what yet. I’m gonna—

RH: Ohh.

DS: I’m gonna do something ’cause it’s my three years official at Corporate Motion.

RH: Oh, Happy Birthday.

DS: First of August, yeah.

RH: Well, tag in The Awards People. We’ll share with friends definitely ’cause, er, we’re, we’re big fans.

DS: Awesome.

RH: But, yeah. Get, get video as part of your strategy, awards strategy or, more generally, your marketing, your marketing coms, your advertising strategy. It is worth its weight in gold.

Hopefully, you found this useful. Dave, thank you so much for sitting—

DS: Thank you very much for—

RH: – on the Sofa of Success.

DS: Fist bump.

RH: Fist bump. Ooh, haven’t done the three top, topical questions, have I?

DS: Okay, okay.

RH: Gotta do them.

DS: Here we go.

RH: That’s certainly [indiscernible 19:49].

[Crosstalk 19:50]

RH: Can’t wait for you to see Champagne or Prosecco. That was fun. So, er, we always ask three questions to the people who come on the Sofa of Success. So, er, the first one is: You have just been announced winner of Super-Duper Film of the Year and you’re about to go up on the stage. You? Family and friends? Team? Who would you take up?

DS: Erm, no it. I would take my wife if I was nominated or up for something, erm, but I would—it would be me on the stage ’cause there’s no way Karen would go up on the stage. She’d be too scared.

RH: Oh, bless.

DS: I am the company, so—

RH: Yep. So, it would be Dave up on the stage?

DS: It would.

RH: Erm, ooh. Before—as you hear that you’ve won. First Bump, High Five, or Bear Hug? I’ve dropped in another one there ’cause we’ve just done a fist bump.

DS: Yeah. It’s gotta be a Bear Hug.

RH: Bear Hug?

DS: Yeah, I’m a huggy-, huggy-type person.

RH: Yeah. Absolutely. Er, you’re coming off the stage. Karen’s at the bar going, “Right, let’s get the—”

DS: Pint of bitter.


RH: So, the question is: Champagne or Prosecco?

DS: Yeah, no. But if I had to choose one of those, it would be Prosecco.

RH: Oh, Dave. Pam Marr, Superstar, will be thrilled with that answer. She’s not here. She’s on her holidays.

DS: Oh, yeah.

RH: Happy Holidays, Pam.

DS: Hi, Pam.

RH: Er, so yeah. You’re a Prosecco fan, are you?

DS: Yeah. Champagne tastes like vinegar.

RH: [Gasp]

DS: Like gin. Gin tastes like perfume. It’s horrible.

RH: Just scratch everything I’ve said. Just gotta push through it, Dave. You’re not playing for yourself.

DS: Bitter, all the way.

RH: So, the pint of bitter is preference over Prosecco to shut Pam up.

DS: Yeah.

RH: Right, cool. Thank you so much for joining us.

DS: Thanks [crosstalk21:28].

RH: We’re gonna get you back on the sofa ’cause there’ll be—I’m sure it’ll be the hot topic all around video.

DS: Absolutely. Absolutely. Paratrooper. Yeah, we’ll talk about that.

RH: Oh, yeah. Yeah. He’s off to do a major series. Anyhoo, we’ll see him back later. But, in the meantime, thank you for watching. Hope you got some top tips out of it. And we’ll see you next week on the sofa, but until then, it’s Rach from The Awards People checking out.