This week at Newsroom360 we were visited by Brian Storm.
Storm cut his teeth in MSNBC and Corbis before starting his own production company. MediaStorm works with journalists for a variety of news organisations, NGO’s and charities. Its style is longer form, non-perishable, universal stories with high production values. Although the films have beginnings in beautifully composed photo-journalism it’s the interplay between this and well rendered video composition which really give the stories an emotional impact and feeling of quality. Storm showed us “Harry and Helen” from Driftless as an example of this.
Borrowing from Hollywood
MediaStorm’s films take conventions from cinema rather than a vérité news style, using atmospheric music and dropped introductions to heighten dramatic impact and put people at the centre of the story. Even the way that his videos are marketed using teasers or “preludes” which resemble Hollywood trailers.
These promos are often used to raise funds through the Kickstarter crowd-funding site. For A Darkness Visible, $10,000 was raised privately in return for limited edition rewards. Even when making work for with clients Brian depends on his work’s virality, allowing sharing on social media and embedding for dedicated blogs helps build momentum. Book-ending this content with adverts is a significant revenue driver, although Storm concedes that CPM (cost for thousand impressions) for adverts in the US is higher than here. Interestingly longer stories retain the viewer if the film is interesting enough, Storm gave his own sites stats as an example: the average time on site is 16 minutes. Storm also recommended treading carefully and choosing advertisers and other streams such as sponsorship affiliation should also be explored.
Slow vs Fast
Brian’s message is you can be two things with online video: funny or quality. Journalists tend to be better at the latter. We have to consider how longer-tail in-depth production fits into the daily or weekly news cycle. Although, as a passing shot Storm also shared a three team collaboration of writer, photographer and film maker who managed to turn around a stirring documentary in a week.