In the age of social media, gaining attention online can be a challenge. As filmmakers, we have to grasp the viewer within the first few seconds and then tell a story which resonates in under 3 minutes. Attempting to cover too much territory can be counterproductive. So what's the best structure for event marketing films?
Events come in many different sizes, types and contexts. They can incorporate speakers, seminars, presentations and training workshops spanning several days and held in multiple locations.
Despite these differences, our short films share a similar arrangement of structural ingredients: a beginning, middle and end. This archetype is built on the classic storytelling structure of three constituent parts: set-up, conflict and resolution.
There's no limit to the number of acts a story can have, but we find that short films are often best suited to an act structure of three or fewer.
The first few seconds of an event film are critical. If the video fails to pique the viewer's interest, they are likely to abandon it and scroll on. The visuals must therefore be vivid and impactful, hook the audience and show them where the action is taking place.
Getting a great establishing shot of a prestigious venue or location not only provides context, it can immediately raise the profile of an event in the mind of the viewer.
Often we gather several establishing shots from where the event is being held. Depending on the location, these can be captured to best effect using a time-lapse, 'push in' or 'tracking' dolly shot, a wide-angle aerial shot or a static shot with some movement occurring in the foreground. Each type of shot plays a unique role in the ideas portrayed and the emotions evoked in the audience.
Where possible, we will scout the event location in advance. This can be done in person or by browsing online to see how others have captured the same location in stills and in video. We also check weather forecasts in order to choose the most appropriate time to get the shots we need.
Filming inside a building or on private land requires special permission. This can usually be obtained from the building owners and/or the owners of the land in question. It's important to leave sufficient time for a location to consider this request. Permission can take at least a week’s notice and may require a fee.
Once context has been established, the very next step is to show a human face. Studies show that people are hard-wired to focus on faces from a young age because they provide information that is important to our survival. Faces convey and elicit emotion and help us understand a story.
Even with short highlight films, it's possible to incorporate story. A film that simply captures a sequence of events will not be as effective as one with a compelling story that makes people think. This is because of the way we respond to story and how it can drive our behaviour. See: Event Filming and the Importance of Story.
The underlying architecture of any story is built around the presented characters’ central flaws or needs. Our aim as filmmakers is to set up a goal or desire with which the viewer can relate. In the context of conferences and events, an example of this might be the desire to meet others within the same profession or community. The story invites viewers to identify with the presented characters, creating inspiration and motivation to go out into the world and do what that story would have them do. In this case, to buy a ticket and attend an event.
As well as presenting relatable characters to the viewer, another persuasive element is to have an important figure or expert in their field speak positively about the event. When people are uncertain, they’ll most likely look to others for guidance. An important and respected figure not only provides social proof, they can also help people make a decision and feel confident about their choice.
We naturally impose order on all new information that comes our way. It's how we grow—by absorbing new information and merging it with our pre-existing knowledge.
If targeted well and executed properly, the story presented in the film will merge with the viewer's own personal history and associations, their own needs and unresolved conflicts. The film essentially motivates them to take action in order to resolve their unresolved need.
The end must bring all of these ideas together and neatly round off the message of the video in the mind of the viewer.
How long should an event marketing film be?
Users expect different video lengths (and size formats) on different platforms. Ideally, we seek to customise the video length for each platform and offer a variety of size and length formats.
Creating longer, in-depth content is more suited to some platforms than others. Here are some averages based on audience's expectations and platform limits for video length.
- YouTube: 2-3 minutes
- Facebook: 60-90 seconds
- Twitter: 45-60 seconds
- Instagram: 30-60 seconds