Each day, Dan Phenicie is working on his craft as a filmmaker and storyteller. As Executive Producer and Vice President of Development at Seven/Seventy-Nine, a full service video agency, Phenicie has a knack for combining a compelling story, a concise narrative, and a clear, well-honed message.
All of us have the opportunity to benefit from improving our ability to tell stories. Whether it be sharing a consumer perspective with a colleague, telling the back-story of an idea, or simply persuading others, stories are an effective driver of change throughout our lives.
That’s why we asked Phenicie to share 4 Top Tips on tapping into your inner storyteller and how to get more visual.
1. Get More Visual.
People are naturally visual communicators. “Sight and sound are the top factors of how people communicate, and how we have always communicated. Reading and literacy, mass literacy, is relatively recent in human history, so human beings are visual communicators,” explains Phenicie. That’s why we have to try to show context, perspective and details of a story through the use of visuals whenever we can.
“You can have a really slick PDF with a lot of beautifully written copy, or you can have a website that's really well designed with great photography, great copy, and hope people will read it. Or you can have somebody hit ‘play’ and watch a video. What are people more likely to do?” Most people are more likely to watch video.
2. Know Your Audience.
Phenicie starts with two questions when he’s trying to get to the heart of a story: What are you trying to say? And, who are you trying to say it to? Exploring these two questions makes sure he knows the intended audience.
“Knowing your audience is crucial because different people respond to things in different ways,” Phenicie says. “You want to make sure that you’re presenting the subject matter in a way that resonates and doesn’t turn people off.” Furthermore, knowing your audience will affect how your story is told. For example, is this an audience that will respond well to humor or do you need to be more buttoned up and professional?
Knowing “what success looks like” is also a part of knowing your audience. “Ultimately you’re trying to affect someone’s behavior and having a sense of who that person is will influence how you approach that goal.”
3. Tap Your Inner Storyteller.
It can be difficult to start the process of uncovering a story when we are uncertain about what that underlying story really is. But everyone has a story to tell, and there is always a story that can be uncovered.
“There's always a story,” says Phenicie. “It's just a matter of digging deep enough to find what it is.” Phenicie’s advice is to be open-minded and to start exploring as much as possible. “Time is always a factor so explore as much as you can within your project timeline. Talk to as many people within an organization as you can – see how they do things and get a sense of the culture. Throw things at the wall and see what sticks. Let things marinate,” he says. “Allow people to share and say what they want to say, and then start distilling that information.”
Another trick is to start with history. “Knowing how something came to be – why it exists, where it came from, and why it happened is a crucial story element. Just think about the classic ‘this business started in a garage’ storyline.”
4. Don’t Focus on the Final Product Too Early.
In any creative endeavor, if you are too focused on the end product early on in the process, you can leave out or miss slices of the story that should have been included.
The target length for the final video might be 3 minutes, but the first cut might be closer to 6 or 7, and that’s a good thing, according to Phenicie. “It’s always better to have more material than not enough. This also forces you to fine-tune your message and story – what’s absolutely critical, versus what’s superfluous?” Be concise and don’t be repetitive.
You never know what details will become important, or what can be threaded into a story later. Over time, you will learn to let the process unfold with a bit of deferred judgment. “Later, you may use something that you never thought would be a part of the story, but ends up actually being a very key part of it.”
Ultimately, Phenicie says you need to tell a story that resonates with people. These are the kinds of arguments, persuasions or stories that help people see something in a new way. “At the end of the day there are goals that need be achieved. That goal might be to sell a product or to encourage people to get involved in a cause or to change someone’s opinion on a particular product, service, or issue. If the video doesn’t do that, then, well, it failed.”
About Dan Phenicie & Seven/Seventy-Nine
Seven/Seventy-Nine began when college friends Dan Phenicie and Drew Money discovered a mutual love for the art of filmmaking. At the time Money was working as an industrial designer while Phenicie had a job in marketing. They began making short films on nights and weekends as a creative outlet and eventually some well known brands took notice. Within a few years, the pair were creating videos for the likes of Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, Pampers, and Jergens just to name a few.
What makes Seven/Seventy-Nine unique as a video production company is our keen understanding of how the story and the aesthetic have to be just right in order for a video to connect and resonate. Our team of designers and motion artists understand the complexities of color, the importance of composition, and the power of visual communication. Meanwhile, our writing and narrative team understands that the foundation of any good video is a compelling story, a concise narrative, and a clear, well-honed message. It’s not hard to find videos that are heavy on one or the other, but finding the right mix of story and visual is what sets Seven/Seventy-Nine apart.
Looking to see how you can use Batterii to preserve and share the story behind any concept or idea? See how information can be captured and then built-on or shared: download the Batterii Guide to Digital Ethnography below.