Category Archives: Commentary
There’s an old adage applied to theater, filmmaking, and many other production arts that goes something like, “Good, fast, cheap – pick TWO.” The implications are probably obvious to most who are new to this. But, remember: you can’t have it all and something has to be sacrificed.
Now, having worked independently in nonfiction and marketing video production for nine years, I want to modify the old adage.
RIGHT, QUICK, AFFORDABLE, AND… EVERGREEN – PICK THREE.
Wow, too good to be true, you might wonder? Also, what in the world is “evergreen”? Operating with a background in journalism, I know that “evergreen” applies to content that is valid to be shown almost any season, for a variety of purposes, for a variety of audiences. With my experience of working for a variety of clients, I have found ways of creating content that does satisfy this description and makes clients/businesses look good always.
So, to recap: “We can get a video that’s three of the following: right, quick, affordable, or evergreen?” That’s right! I’ll break it down a little more. I work mostly as a one-man-band, so I can control a lot of factors in a production. That means that the person to whom you explain your concept is the person shooting, the same person editing, etc. And this allows me to keep costs down for most clients. (You don’t have to pay for a cameraman, director, and sound person – just one production whiz.) Of course, this limits some of the scope of productions I undertake, but I can satisfy the needs of most clients. If you have a concept and a quick deadline, it might cost a little more, but we can accomplish a lot in a short time and make sure it’s hard-hitting in the ways you want! But, it’s rare that one aspect doesn’t have to be sacrificed just a little bit.
One recent client [Keona Health] wrote: “We had an unreasonable 1 week deadline from a business partner to create a video of our service for their customer website. Wil came through with an amazing video that looks as professional as videos I’ve seen that take a month. He took our challenge as his own, and worked evenings and weekends to get it done. I couldn’t be happier with the quality and dedication and will definitely be using him again.”
If you want to know more, drop me a line and let’s start working on ideas! Let’s have fun and get some great videos done!
(originally posted on LinkedIn on November 16, 2016)
Treatment of health and medical topics in non-fiction video can be challenging. A careful balance must be found between conveying the important details and protecting a patient’s privacy. Moreover, HIPAA and various other regulations can limit how much information may be legally shared.
Over the past few years, I have explored a variety of subjects in my work, ranging from medical devices to stories of individual patients and caregivers. Finding the right visuals to accompany important story details is part of the effective solution. Striking a balance between emotional connection and scientific relevance is another important component.
This brief sample reel highlights some of the stories I’m most proud of telling in the past year.
Please feel free to share and encourage others to pursue effective storytelling. I really love these kinds of videos and always welcome new clients in the healthcare and medical fields.
(originally posted on LinkenIn May 4, 2016)
Sometimes we all get a little burned out from our usual grind, even if we are lucky enough to have work that doesn’t always feel like “work.” In this digital age, with all the possibilities for telecommuting and working remotely, there are few good reasons why we should constantly settle for not finding variety. Mix things up! Go to a new location to work for a few days! Think of a project which will (a) fulfill your professional ambitions, (b) show off some of your best skills, (c) excite you in the process, and (d) challenge you in new ways to find new capabilities. This is what I did in 2014.
Each year, in January I try to establish a new goal or professional priority for myself. I don’t like resolutions and I am usually working on a contract basis, so I must challenge myself to grow and develop in new ways. In 2014, my goal was to find a way to do work (paid or unpaid — but not costing me much!) in Spain. I’d spent a couple of weeks in southern Spain the year prior, on a family vacation, reminding myself how much I loved that lifestyle, the culinaria, all the glorious sun. So I started by telling people of my intentions. Long story short, I found an artists’ residency with an open call for submissions — for any project you’d like to undertake — from visual artists and researchers, around the theme of “making neighborhood” in Barcelona. Perfect.
I thought about it a long time, then spent much of the time around July 4 that year writing a long proposal to study urban gardening in Barcelona through a series of 6 videos. Each video would be able to stand alone, telling a unique story, but would create a larger picture of how to bring people together through gardening. In just over 6 weeks total, I knew it would be a daunting challenge — researching, getting to know people, interviewing, shooting and editing, all in Spanish, one-man-band-style — but I knew it would be a great challenge and a fun project. The artist residency could cover most of my expenses, aside from food and trasportation to/from Spain. I would save and just make the rest happen. I wrapped up many projects, put a few larger projects on hold, told clients I would be back, found trustworthy people to watch my house and dogs, and took off to spend November and December in Barcelona!
Yes, it was daunting and a huge challenge and I didn’t shoot anything at all for the first ten days (which drove me slightly mad), but it all worked out and I had one of the more impressive of the projects for the group of four artists participating. Each video examination of urban gardening contained a different message. They were all edited by the time I left Barcelona in late December. And I still had lots of time for nightlife fun, seeing Gaudí masterpieces, and Barça futbol games (at Camp Nou). But the rewards of the work were (and still are) immense for me professionally.
I won’t explain too much of the subject matter I covered. If you want, you can see the videos for yourself on wilweldon.com (under International) and feel free to email be with questions. In short, they were collectively about finding new ways to tackle an ancient topic, about bringing people together, and about overcoming an immense economic crisis that’s left millions of people without gainful employment. The people and the stories are bright and uplifting.
The lessons I brought back were immense. I could drop myself into a new city, speaking a non-native language with limited assistance (my Spanish was strong already, but not “fluent”), with limited funds, with no idea who would see or how my work would be used, working with a short turnaround, and make a dream project happen. I found new ways of using my cameras. I found new ways of interviewing people, strengthening what I still consider my strong suit in my trade. And, perhaps most importantly, I found ways of manipulating a long-winded cultural narrative tradition into short-form stories. (Many of the Spaniards I encountered were amazed at the ways I condensed the stories into short films, something Europeans have not entirely mastered in non-fiction.) A national radio show in Spain interviewed me and celebrated my work. On my return, one of my favorite radio programs also interviewed me and featured my work prominently on their web site. Did I make a lot of money from any of this? No. Was I able to pitch the series of videos successfully to a publication for more widespread distribution? No. But those are lessons for the next dream project. The important part now is knowing that I can create a Dream Project, see it to completion, and happily embrace new challenges — all while not going broke and finding ways to inspire others.
See the videos here at wilweldon.com
What guides what we tell and what we owe to our subjects?
I’ve been thinking a lot about ethics in non-fiction video production and storytelling over the past couple of years, in particular. For a lot of people, video production means just setting up and pointing a camera, getting some good light on the subject and… Voilá! Put this clip next to that clip and you have a video! In reality, there are so many more levels to this than most of us realize. There are at least 4-5 different major software applications for editing, alone, with different values and variables for each. But one big component of video production which distinguishes elite producers from those still learning is ethics. (I know, I used to think ethics was boring, but it’s pretty exciting, actually!) This will probably be a multi-part (at least 2-part) series, so I will keep these posts fairly simple.
To begin, ethics means a lot more than “right or wrong,” when it comes to representing people. With the DSLR revolution in video production, many people previously accustomed to knowing a video camera when they see one are now often unaware they are being video-graphed. Does this change the rules? At the least, should we ask if people are okay with video being taken of them? One major consideration is that they will no longer be “candid” or natural and this will change the value of the video for the shooter. But this is just one of the ways ethics is important and is a slight digression from the point of this post.