Tips for a Better Promo Video


As a filmmaker I get asked a lot about promotional videos. There is a lot that goes into creating one and not every one is the same. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating a promotional video/trailer.

1. Keep is short

As they say time is money and attention spans are short. When you watch a commercial how long do you watch it until your attention is taken by something or someone else? Honestly it’s not long. Sometimes less than 30 seconds. 2 minutes at the most, 1 minute at best, and if you can get it down to 30 impactful seconds, even better. You want the full amount of your audience’s attention and not still be rambling when they are long gone.

2. Content is King

Is it informative, interesting, attention grabbing, and rememberable? Does it make you want to learn more or engage with the product? Would you tell other people about it? Take the Old Spice commercials. It is a product that has been selling for over 75 years but only recently has it really come to the for front due to great their great marketing campaign.

3. Sound

You know those old dubbed Japanese action films where the mouths are moving but the sound doesn’t seem to line up? Yeah, no good. Sure it’s nostalgic if you watch one of those movies but doesn’t really help if you are trying to sell a product today.

Also if you want to have music overlaid then make it something that fits the mood and won’t put the audience to sleep. If it is music with voice over, make sure you can still hear the voice.

4. Keep it Steady

If your camera shakes more than an actor on the Blair Witch project, there may be a problem. Keep the movement steady. Best way to do this? Hire a professional. Granted, I am a filmmaker, but even I wouldn’t do my own camera shots. They always come out bad if I do.

5. Know your Audience

Who are you trying to target and how do you get their interest. Axe body wash aims towards the younger generation while Dove campaigns for all women and signifies beauty at any age. Both work very well to get who they are targeting.

6. Stay on Budget

Too many ideas and not enough resources can cause big problems. You don’t need the biggest budget to have the biggest impact. As they say, less is more. Any BIG idea you have can always be made into a small more suitable one.

7. Plan Ahead

Know what you want to do ahead of time instead of just doing whatever comes to you. If you don’t plan it out it will show. Ever watch a commercial and scratch your head afterward and wonder “what were they thinking”. Yeah that comes from not planning ahead.

8. Have a Message

What is it that you want to say about your company or product? What do you ultimately want people to take away to remember you by. Dove wants you to know you will feel beautiful no matter who you are when you use their products. Chrysler wants you to know that there are hard-working behind their products. Hulu wants you to know that you can catch up on your favorite shows with them on any device. What do you want people to know about you?

Follow these tips and you will be on your way to a great promo video.

Image courtesy of kanate /

Keep Going


Today I decided to ride my bike to the library as a way to get some exercise and get some needed work done. On the way there I realized two things:

1. It was super cold and I probably should have worn more layers and gloves. I couldn’t feel my hands any longer.
2. Even though I had biked to the library before, this was the hardest ride I EVER had. The wind was incredibly strong.

So naturally I wanted to give up halfway there. My hands felt as if they would fall off, my lungs burned from exertion, and I was going so slow I thought I would never make it. I came really really close to calling it quits.

But I didn’t.

The thing was… I was already halfway there. To stop where I was and turn around would mean I would be going the same distance except instead of getting to my destination, I would end up right back where I started.

So I kept going. I made it to the library, albeit much later than I wanted to, but I ended up being able to put two hours of great work in at the library and I got my exercise.

So many times we want to give up when we are halfway there. We get so far out, realize this task is really really hard, then give up and turn back around.

Don’t turn back around!

You are so close and there is a reward waiting on the other side. Even if you fail at least you are at a new destination instead of right back where you were before.

Video: The case for collaborative consumption


In conjunction with this weeks book review on What’s Mine is Yours here is the Ted Talk given by the author of the book, Rachel Botsman. What is presented here is the case study of what the book contains and how she came to write about it. Take a look, it’s pretty interesting and make sure you get the book.

Quitting is an Option


When a ship is sinking I’m one of the last ones to get off no matter how bad it’s gotten. I know this. I have done this on many projects. Things go from bad to worse and yet I continue to hang on to the slight sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe, things will turn around. Maybe I’ll stop being stressed out. Maybe this time things will be different.

When I commit to projects I commit whole heartedly with the intention of seeing the finish line. Couple this with the habit of just wanting to help people out and to see them succeed and you have a bad habit of taking on bad projects and not getting out fast enough.

If you are like me then you understand just how hard it is to stop something once you have committed to it.

I once worked on a film project and at the time I was eager to just get some work so I said yes to the project. I also said yes to a lot of other things that were ridiculous and stressed me out until I finally said no, left the project, and breathed fresh air.

So when did I know things were going to be bad?

The second after I committed all these things came to light and I realized things were going to be bad fast. It started with a bad leader, an undeveloped concept, and bad communication and when from there.

But I’m not a quitter so I refused to quit. Sometimes we really do need to quit. The only thing I regret is not quitting sooner.

Sometimes we need to realize when the ship is going down and to get off of it as fast as we can. They say quitting is not an option, but I think is some cases it is the best option. Things that cause us an enormous amount of stress can be good or bad, but you have to decide if the end game is worth it. In my case it was not.

Knowing when to quit is just as important of knowing when to press on.

Currently Reading: What’s Mine is Yours


In a day and age where everyone seems to be a mass consumer there are a few companies popping up that seem to go the other way where things are shared.

What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers

The book starts out with an illustration of our over consumerism in the form of the The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A stretch of ocean that is twice the size of Texas and carries about 3.5 million tons of garbage most of which is plastic. This came from the rise of disposable products such as plates, cups, and bottles.

Garbage patch

From the moment you start reading you see this case building and how we came to where we are now  with excess stuff and an abundance of trash. What is so great about this book is that it doesn’t just leave it there but shows how we are creating solutions to this ever-expanding problem.

From Generation Me to Generation We

There is now a significant amount of consumers who are moving towards homemade items, recycled materials, second-hand products, and shared living spaces.

The book touches on companies like Etsy, Airbnb, Growing Chefs, and RideShare, all of which make collaboration and reuse as part of their backbone.

It also talks about crowdsourcing but not as a way to make money but at as a way to solve problems and sharing a huge task, like picking up large amounts of trash, between several people so it takes less time and money. This is also applied to open collaborative tech projects and artists initiatives.

The Millennials are not a generation of Mother Teresas. They are not all do gooders shunning well paid jobs and luxuries for a utopian dream…But they are abandoning the prevailing ethos of their parents’ generation of baby boomers  and adhering more to the values of their grandparents, the war generation.

Millennials are the backbone of this newfound driven collaboration and community of Entrepreneurs and consumers. “Generation We” has created a new value shift.

What will you get out of this book?

This book portrays how the world is ever-changing especially in the hands of Millennials. It’s not all about what “I” can get but what “we” can get and for Entrepreneurs it is important to understand your audience and how new businesses are popping up all the time to meet this need.

I like this book particularly because it helped me understand my own generation and it also gave me insight into what businesses are doing now. I definitely recommend this if not as a way to help your business but as a case study/social commentary of where we are today as consumers.


How to Have a “Me Year”


First question is… What is a “Me Year”? This is what it is as stated in my About page:

It is when you say enough is enough. When you decide that for once your dreams are going to scream louder than your bills. When you stop making excuses and start doing. When instead of letting things hold you back you use them to push you forward. When failures happen because you tried not because you gave up. When you decide that the sacrifice it’s going to take is worth what you want. And when you realize that dreams come true not because you wished them true but because you made them happen. That is a Me Year. It’s not about being selfish or saying it’s all about me. It’s about saying that TODAY and EVERYDAY this year I am going to the necessary steps to make my dream come true, to have a better life, to give back not hold back, to be a better person, and to finish the year in VICTORY.

So how does one have a Me Year?

1. Set goals

Much like every New Year when you set resolutions, for a Me Year you need to set goals. This can range from tasks you want to complete, things you want to learn, places you want to visit, and achievements you want to pursue.

For instance here are some things on my list:

  • Buy a guitar and learn to play it.
  • Go on vacation twice!
  • Produce a film
  • Finish writing Two scripts
  • Exercise four times per week.
  • Blog five times per week

These goals are slightly vague but you can make them as detailed as you would like. For instance instead of “Buy a guitar and learn to play it” I can specifically write what kind of guitar and what kinds of songs I want to learn. It doesn’t have to be that specific, just as long as you know what they are.

Be sure to keep your goals in a prominent place so that you remind yourself what it is you are trying to achieve. Make sure it is a place that you always see like a bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or desk.

2. Create a plan of action

This is super important. It’s one thing to write down goals it is another to understand how you can execute them. For instance for my plan to write a script I would break it down into what I am writing and how often.

A plan of action also includes deadlines. When do you want this project to be done? How long will you spend on it each day or each week? If you fall behind how will you make it up?

When you set a deadline you are making a conscious decision to get it done. It also helps to make small deadlines as well. Such as I will finish three pages each day until I reach my goal but my deadline will be May 20th.

3. Act

Now that you have set your goals and your deadlines of when you want to achieve it now you have to act on it. Like they say,”no better time than the present”. You’ve done all that planning now it’s time to take action. All you have to do is start.

4. Stay Diligent

It’s easy to get off track and find other things of interest and not have the time. In all honesty the things we have time for are the things we make time for. If you never make time for your goals then they will never get done.

There are times of course where life happens and we have set back and things don’t work out as we have planned. That’s okay. Just stay diligent and continue to work towards your goal as best as you can, little by little and before you know it, you’ve achieved your goal.

What are you make part of your “Me Year”?

Change in Restlessness


Restlessness, it’s that feeling you get when your daily routine starts to eat at you and become bored and can’t seem to sit still or perform your usual tasks. It starts with something little a feeling you can’t push down but then it begins to build and build until you can’t take it anymore and have to do something drastic just to make the feeling stop.

That’s when people suddenly get a new wardrobe, a new hair cut, quit a job, or take on a new crazy hobby. We all deal with this in some way. It is our sudden need for change, for something outside of your usual ordinary. It is a mental signal that our life has somehow become stagnant and we need a release or we will scream from this feeling of insanity.

It’s weird how these feelings happen. Sometimes it’s because a big change is coming and we need to release the tension of the anticipation of that event. And sometimes it’s because no change is coming and hasn’t come for quite some time and you feel so still that it’s as if you aren’t even moving.

Towards the end of last year I felt this. Things were too stagnant I couldn’t take how mundane my day in and day out had become. I was continuing to build up this tension with no form of release and to top it off I was working constantly and seriously worn out. So what did I do? I cut and colored my hair and booked a flight to Florida for eight days. Did this solve it? Not really.

I had made a change but the restlessness continues to eat at me. My change wasn’t drastic enough.

As Entrepreneurs and Creatives we constantly seek change in our pursuit of success and creative output. When we allow our lives to become stagnant and with out growth or change we start to lose it. Sometimes slowly, sometimes really fast. And we don’t always notice it.

But what I have learned from every time this has happened is that something big is on the horizon. Something fantastic. Something I have been craving for, striving for in all this time. And every time it blows me away.

So if you have this feeling of restlessness, of tension, and anticipation of something you can’t see then take heart. Something big is coming and it’s going to be amazing.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Setting Yourself Up: Power of the Imagination


I woke up this morning to the sound of a snow plow moving snow outside my window. I immediately groaned inwardly because that could only mean on thing, it had snowed. Living in the frozen snowy tundra that is Minnesota there are many mornings like this where it snowed through the night. On this particular morning I had to get up at 5am.

As I laid in bed all I could think about is how much snow must have piled up, how I dreaded having to shovel it, wondering if I will be able to get my car out of the garage, and just how late this was going to make me, having not prepared for it. Even as I got up and started getting ready for the day I still wondered how much snow will be compacted at the end of my driveway and just how heavy that snow was. As I grabbed my breakfast the dread continued to build and build so that by the time I put on my coat and boots I was already in a foul mood.

I stood on the cusp of the garage step and with a heavy sigh and possibly a slight growl I hit the button to find out my doom. What did I see. Not much. Well there was something, about a few inches, but in Minnesota terms it basically equated to just enough to make things annoying but not enough where it won’t be melted by the end of the day. And just like that my spirits were lifted. It’s as nothing was ever wrong in the first place. I promptly got in my car and drove to my destination. Now if only I hadn’t allowed my imagination to run off in the first place I wonder how that would have turned out.

The imagination is a powerful thing. It allows us to create such images that can affect us greatly. Which is why it can also be very dangerous. In my case I have dreamt up such mounds of snow that I thought I would be shoveling for hours, late to where I was going, and subsequently put into a foul mood. Essentially I was put off before I even knew the outcome. Now let’s apply that to taking on new things.

Sometimes we are put off of doing things, namely those things that are hard or unfamiliar, even prior to starting it. Our imagination conjures up such horrible images as to how everything can and will go wrong that by the time we are done imagining we have given up entirely and put ourselves in a bad mood. Instead of dwelling on the thought of snow and building up the negatives I should have just let it go and faced the challenge head on when it came.

Instead of imagining how everything can go wrong we should imagine how everything can go right. Does that mean it will? No. But going into a situation with a positive outlook sets you up better for facing the challenge even if it doesn’t work out right. So the next time your imagination decides to run off with its friend negativity, bring it back and switch your focus. That way next time your mood won’t be put off before you even see that pile of snow.

Currently Reading: The Crowdfunding Bible


I’m sure as Entrepreneurs we have all heard of crowdfunding and how you can use that to create capital for starting projects, launching initiatives, or even funding a vacation. But because you know of it doesn’t mean you know how to do it and do it successfully.

As a person who is currently looking into crowdfunding as an option for financing a film I started to research how it is done and came across this book in my search.

The Crowdfunding Bible: How to Raise Money for any Startup, Video Game, or Project

by Scott Steinberg

In this book it covers topics such as:

  • What is crowdfunding
  • Who should consider it
  • And how to get your crowdfunding project off the ground

Great pieces in this book includes the list of crowdfunding sites, examples of successful campaigns, ideas for your own campaign. The big thing about creating your campaign, and the thing that will help you the most, is research.

The book suggests that you look at other campaigns that have been launched and assess what they have done from their video, to prizes, their goal, and how they are marketing their campaign.

It also breaks down each crowdfunding site and their fees and requirements for payouts when it comes to reaching your goal.

Please note that this isn’t a step by step outline of what you can personally do for your campaign but more of a general outline of the steps needed to take but it does offer a great amount of information for anyone who is looking to get started.

As of today you can purchase the book in Amazon for the kindle app for free. However it’s not apparent how long that will last as the book usually cost $13.99 and the digital list price is $2.99.

A Conference Call in Real Life


If you ever had a to do a conference call then this video is for you. This video captures what it is like perfectly minus the person with the screaming kids in the background or the person who isn’t even paying attention and is doing something else. Take a look and you’ll laugh because this is certainly true.