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The secrets of creating video: be a good storyteller


“If you’re not telling a story then why are you doing it? Our job is to take people on a journey.”

Sunday’s Creative Director Sam Walker and Head of Video Tom Coulson discuss their ideas and approach to bringing a client’s story to life with video.

Sam Walker: If this was a video rather than an online feature, we would be putting the best shots in the first five seconds?

Tom Coulson: Starting with a bit of high energy can work. But it’s become a bit of a formula. When you’re creating a video, it’s important to know when to break those rules. Intrigue, delight or surprise the viewer.

SW: So, surprise us.

TC: I was commissioned to create a film when I was 14 about a teddy bear that travelled around South Africa. The film was used to teach geography to primary school pupils.

Filmmaking has been with me since I was very young when I wandered around my home pretending I was creating a film. In fact, when I left university, I wanted to carry on making films so always looked for roles where there was room for creative input.

SW: Yes, your mindset to make and create was clear from the start. It’s exactly what we were looking for when recruiting someone to lead Sunday’s video output. Now you’re here, what is the thing that gets you excited about a brief?

TC: When you can picture the mood of what you’re trying to create. As soon as you’ve got that – the rest starts to flow. We always ask what the client wants the audience to think and feel having watched the film. We work backwards from that point.

SW: Storytelling is at the heart of what we do at Sunday. Why do you feel it’s so important?

TC: If you’re not telling a story then why are you doing it? Our job is to take people on a journey. And it can be simple. A film we shot for Clarins needed to showcase their treatments with a lot of closeups. But for us, it was also important that we showed the person arriving, sitting down and getting comfortable. It was that scene-setting that provided the human-to-human, relatable emotion.

SW: What advice do you have for clients before they start making a film?

TC: Whether it’s a short social post or a documentary, video needs three elements. It needs to be focused, personal and active.

Focused: a clear message – do not try to squeeze too much in.

Personal: where character and emotion are at the heart.

Active: Make use of what video can offer.

SW: That’s great ­– three guardrails of using video. For me, clients need to be sure that video is the right format for their message. Often, they’ve already decided they want a video and it needs to be 60s long. But there are many ways to deliver the story – podcast, long-form written article, social media. Video has a key role – it can talk to people in a different and exciting way – but it can’t be the whole campaign.

SW: Do you have any other advice for filmmakers?

TC: You need to plan it properly to keep the viewer engaged, so never underestimate the time required. And keep the message simple. Video is the best channel to grab people’s interest and clients are recognising its potential. That’s what’s great about working here at Sunday. Friendly people to work with and a great variety of clients who are seeing the potential of video.

SW: What new developments do you see coming to video?

TC: Personalisation of content. It’s like Spotify’s year unwrapped but in video form – using personalised text over footage. AI is an exciting tool for pitches – being able to visualise concepts and what the eventual footage could look like.

SW: But the guidelines for making great video stay the same?

TC: If it’s thoughtful, emotive, relevant and well-filmed, people will watch it.

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