I’ve been a film geek for as long as I can remember. I grew up in front of the big screen and even studied film in college. I’m absolutely fascinated by how, when, and where a film has made an impact to the types of stories that are told.
One of my favorite quotes about film comes from legendary filmmaker Tim Burton: “It’s good as an artist to always remember to see things in a new, weird way.” And that’s exactly what filmmakers have been doing for the last 100 years.
But seeing things in a “new, weird way” isn’t something only filmmakers do. In fact, it’s something we as advertisers do every day: We find new ways of interpreting our clients’ brands in light of what’s happening around us, so we can continue to keep their brands fresh and relevant in the minds of consumers.
For us in brand management, it’s our job to provide support for our teams to create good, strong work. And if you ever need to inspire creative thinking on your own teams, consider taking a lesson from these five revolutionary films that saw things in a new, weird way.
The Jazz Singer (1927)
Early on, film consisted of only moving images, no sound. But that all changed on December 30, 1927, when The Jazz Singer – the first feature film with sound, otherwise known as a “talkie” – came out. In the filmmakers’ quest to add a new layer to the cinematic experience, The Jazz Singer encourages us to challenge our teams to explore untraditional ways to use sight, sound, and motion. We take our senses for granted as tools to help us tell compelling stories, but how would our work change if we challenged those assumptions?
Check out these white line GIFs where designers placed two white lines on a 2D GIF to give it the illusion of a 3D clip. This simple design technique demonstrates how challenging the role your senses play in a creative concept can lead to unexpected and engaging results, and can help your creative break through the clutter.
Director Alfred Hitchcock pioneered a new camera technique called “subjective camera movement” in his terrifying film Psycho, which forces the audience to see from a specific character’s point of view. This technique has become a staple in the horror and thriller movie genres due to its clever way of involving the audience in the story. With that in mind, to foster creative thinking, the film Psycho reminds us to consider a different point of view. Whether that’s changing your surroundings or sitting down with a teammate to understand their role in the creative process, use the world around you to inspire new ways of thinking.
At The Richards Group, we switch places with people in different disciplines to shake up our thought process while we simultaneously gain an appreciation for the job our teammates do each and every day.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Though it had only a $60,000 budget, The Blair Witch Project became the most profitable film (percentage-wise) of all time, grossing $250 million worldwide by using inexpensive consumer camera equipment and creating a website to help the film reach audiences across the globe. The takeaway here is clear: Encourage your teams to embrace limitations. Don’t let a short production timeline or limited budget be the reason you don’t do something – have it be the reason you do something.
Here’s an example of some great work from our very own Mott’s team that used scrappy thinking to bring a brand-new website to life in a little under a week.
In this film told completely out of chronological order, Christopher Nolan’s editing style broke every editing convention previously established in Hollywood narrative storytelling, and he was rewarded for it with Academy Award nominations for Best Film Editing and Best Original Screenplay. Why not take a note from Memento and know the rules so you can break them. Challenge what is accepted as true, so that you and your team are constantly thinking of new ways to communicate your clients’ brands in a whole new way.
In 2015, REI made a conscious decision to break one of the most traditional rules in the retail space by closing their doors on Black Friday with their #OptOutside campaign, and they have been rewarded and praised by their consumers ever since.
Director James Cameron had a specific vision for Avatar but found that the technology he needed to tell the story the way he wanted to didn’t exist just yet. Tired of waiting for technology to catch up, he took matters into his own hands and invented two new types of 3D film cameras specifically for the film, thus cementing his place in film history as an innovator in the 3D film space. Avatar teaches us to operate on this inspiring principal: Explore and build something new. When you remove the limitations of current technology, it’s exciting to think about what ideas your team will create next.
In 2010, our Home Depot team paired with Click Here Labs to launch the industry’s very first personalized video gift card, using technology purposefully to boost gift card sales.
Keep it weird.
Next time you and your team are feeling stuck, consider taking a lesson from film history to see things in a new, weird way. And remember, the takeaways from these films are just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you choose to change your perspective or shake up your creative process. What really matters is that when you’re faced with a challenge, you remember that seeing things in a new, weird way is always an option.
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