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Tips on Filmmaking: Improve the Viewer Experience

Starting out as a Paramedic and then becoming a filmmaker, I felt I had a responsibility to the industry that shaped me. One memory is going to a shooting to wrap a patient’s head with gauze as they lay there taking their final breath. Their family right by noticing how I was taking care of their loved one even knowing they weren’t going to survive. This story and many others defined me as I thought about how I changed; even for a moment, how others were feeling because of that extra care I took with their loved one. This got me thinking about how my audience experienced my videos online and how I wanted that experience to feel like.

Each day I got the ambulance ready for the shift by prepping a teddy bear that would go to a child losing their parent, or the extra blanket use to make my patient more comfortable. It wasn’t just about IV’s and 12 Leads, it was about the whole experience. In the end, the patient doesn’t know what you need to do they just know how you made them feel. In filmmaking, I am convinced it isn’t just about the stories you tell, but how the audience experiences your story. That feeling is derived from how the audience experiences the video, how they can relate to the video and what you ask of them at the end.

As filmmakers we put a lot of effort into the ideas that make up our projects, the cameras we use, the lenses and lighting. We head into post to make sure timing is done right, music is added to evoke emotion, but we ultimately have a choice on how others experience our videos.

Here are a few tips on filmmaking and how to get started with improving the viewer experience.

Community

The content you are creating has an audience, who is it? Where are they online? Is it for the healthcare community? The idea here is that there may just be a community already built and you won’t have to recreate the wheel here. People who are already in the community are more prepared to watch content about the subject they are involved with because they are searching for it. This gives the content more credibility and ultimately a better experience for the viewer.

Independent Website

This is the most custom way to create the experience. Depending on how web savvy you are this could be a great experience or frustrating one. Considering all of the platforms out there like WordPress, Joomla, Ruby on Rails etc, and my advice is to hire a graphic designer to get your branding down. How your audience first sees your logo or brand will immediately tell them how professional your video will be. This small investment will save a lot of time and frustration.

Video Hosting

Sure there is Youtube, Vimeo, blip.tv then there are more customization solutions like Reelhouse, Brightcove, Kaltura, Ooyala and Vbrick. Viewer experience may have to suffer because you don’t have the budget to consider some of these options, but would your client benefit from having video links to support products of theirs? Or would the focus of the experience just need to be a graphically pleasing platform to support all of the content you create for a client? i.e. Reelhouse.

Social

Make sure that any video hosting solution you use is able to play within a Facebook feed. I can’t stress this enough. I have had the unfortunate experience of getting into a long term contract with a video hosting company only to find out I needed to hire more programmers to make this happen… I was not happy. People don’t want to be bothered by going to a separate website to view content with so much content already available within the Facebook community. Unless you have the budget to own the complete experience for the viewer, be sure to keep this on the radar.

Answer questions timely

This is by far an experience that has made or broke my experience with video. When I have had questions or just wanted to have a short conversation with the creator of the video, I would comment. If it took more than a couple of days to receive an answer, I felt like they were not vested in their own content. As comments come in and you are able to make contact quickly it shows you care about them as a viewer.

I hope this helps give you a sense of what goes into creating a positive viewer experience. There are no perfect solutions that encompass all of what I would want in a platform, but there are chances to stand out.

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About the Author


Thaddeus Setla is a Paramedic and Filmmaker, where he believes his perspective gave him a unique view on life. In Setla’s world these two professions have collided giving him a bigger purpose. It was when Setla had an EMS and film career at the same time that he found out that film was his passion. Shortly after in 2006, Setla Film Productions was formed and was a way for Thaddeus to fill his niche. He immediately turned to relationships he had formed in the industry to help fund his dream of improving production values and continued to partner with companies who saw the value of a good story. Today Thaddeus travels the world sharing stories on how to improve patient care from survivors to their saviors.

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