December 2, 2020

In Focus

Defying the Limits: Relativity Communications

Throughout this season, we will be spotlighting past winners who have defied the limits. Defied the limits of lockdowndefied the limits of geography as well as shining a light on those producing award-winning work from diverse and minority communities.

We spoke with Millie Elston, CEO, Executive Producer of Relativity Communications. A veteran of advertising and marketing industries: From award-winning creative director, to executive accounts director, to producer/entrepreneur, Millie Elston has the ability lead her team and thrive under the pressure cooker of the industry. In the industry for over 30 years, and CEO of Relativity Communications, a woman-owned marketing communications firm since 2015.

With her diversified background and a variety of interests to draw inspiration from, Millie has expertise in Retail, Consumer Packaging Goods, Healthcare and Hospitality and Non-Profit sectors. From working on a major luxury hotel brand and all their projects from their identity and graphics to marketing materials to branding their lobby bar, to enhancing visual experiences, she operated with a solid grasp of Brand Aesthetic.

How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of 2020?

I must say we were pretty fortunate. We have a great creative team, and a big part of being creative is being open to new ideas and making the most of new circumstances.  And we’ve always been accustomed to working lean, to delivering On Time, On Budget.

 We also understood that it wasn’t just us–that our clients have also been experiencing the “unexpected turns of 2020”.  So, more than ever, we needed to communicate, be flexible, improvise, and hope that they too understood that we were all in this together. That everything had changed, except our commitment to them and to delivering good work, On Time, On Budget.  They have given us every confidence that they will continue to partner with us.

 What do you think is the secret to having a successful creative team?

Winning awards, for one thing!  And, while we have always shown that we value our creative team, the pandemic has given us yet another, if unwelcome, opportunity to prove it.  By suspending studio filming for as long as their safety depended upon it.  By following official medical guidelines and instituting strict health precautions for them and for all of our show participants.  By looking after their mental as well as physical well-being, as we have all been taught to do through the many years of producing our show together. 

Our team has always been fueled by mutual energy and our ability to brainstorm and bring ideas to life. Luckily, we’ve still been able to do this remotely throughout the pandemic. Though nothing is quite like being in a room together, working “together” separately has forced new challenges–and new perspectives–on all of us.  And, as in many families, we appreciate one another even more now that we are all back together again.

 What’s the most important lesson you learned while needing to adapt to an unpredictable world environment?

 This crisis has demanded flexibility, quick thinking and, above all, communication.  As a communications business, we were prepared for this to a very great extent.  But this crisis has reinforced those principles and brought them into even sharper focus as we implemented them in new and unforeseen ways.  So the big lesson is that, while the tried and true philosophies and methods have held up, they’ve also become the foundation for working in this current, new reality and solidly positioned us for the future, whatever that may hold.

 What was the biggest hurdle you faced and what surprised you about creating during a lockdown?

These new constraints became a springboard to seeking alternate approaches to the way we do business. We are delivering work that acknowledges and responds to the challenges of this pandemic while nurturing creativity under quarantine. From existing footage, we’ve crafting new, culturally relevant ads that reflect current developments and feelings; abandoning creative executions that don’t represent this new environment; seeking to strike the right tone during this crisis; responding to changing client needs in innovative ways. But what surprised me the most was how well and how quickly our team adapted to these new rules and to thrive in what may well be the conditions for some time to come.   

 What do your Telly wins mean to you?

It’s an honor, it is humbling.  It’s our abiding wish to develop and create work that is as good as or better than the work that won us our past Telly Awards.

These awards allow us to spread stories of hope and to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Our slogan, “Let’s Talk About It!” is an everyday reminder to each of us that the work we do is truly important in promoting the conversation, support and acceptance that is so critical to the one in five Americans suffering from some form of mental illness.

And it’s an honor for our entire organization. Not only is it our goal to provide our clients quality collaboration and solutions, but we know how important it is to provide our employees with an environment that encourages creativity and offers them recognition. These awards validate RELATIVITY Communication’s reputation and commitment to our clients, community and team.

This could never have been possible without the dedicated work of our Team and Crew through everything we’ve faced this year.  For this I thank them all, as well as those brave heroes who have continued to share on our show their stories of triumph over the most unimaginable odds.         


October 27, 2020

In Focus

Defying the Limits: Suck My Chic

For the second installment in our series spotlighting winners who have defied the limits, we are excited to shine the light of female-owned and diversity-first multimedia production company, Suck My Chic. In their own words, the company operates with two goals in mind: to create state-of-the-art, relevant, inspiring content; and to elevate the new majorities in the creative industry.
The entertainment business has always been handled by the same demographic. We are a forthright solution to this problem. Our proudly colorful team has developed and produced over 450 successful multimedia projects.

We sat down virtually with their Founder, Carolina Bradilli, an Afro-Latina multimedia producer rooted in NYC-LA,  to find out more!

How do you find a good balance of including your teams own creativity and letting the story you’re telling speak for itself?

I think that a good balance between creativity and letting the story speak for itself is using the right point of view for that story. The more the team can identify with the story being told, the more we will have an authentic result and the story will be able to speak for itself. Therefore, I think the balance is looking for a specific point of view and trying to be as faithful to it as possible so we can have incredible results. We are proud to have such a diverse team, but we would love to make it more diverse. We would like to be even more inclusive and would love to work with more female directors. But everybody on our team believes in our mission and the fight for diversity and inclusion, which facilitates the process of creating this perfect balance.

How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of 2020?

2020 has been extremely challenging because we were set to triple our income for the entire year in just one month, and we were in a very good position that allowed us to give many opportunities to the people on our team. Unfortunately, all of our contracts were canceled due to the pandemic. We had to turn our attention to creating our own content, which is a bittersweet feeling since it is amazing to make your own content but we also deeply miss being on set.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during your creative process?

The biggest hurdle we face during our creative process is finding companies and brands that are aligned with our ideals and goals. Companies and brands tend to be very standardized, they all look for the same thing. Being different can sometimes be a hurdle because we insist on working with diversity and focusing on that authentic point of view, and not everyone is prepared for that. Some companies and brands have yet to accept this which can be very difficult.

What do your Telly wins mean to you?

Winning the Telly Awards was very important to us, firstly, because it was the first prize that our company has ever won; and secondly, because it was a recognition for a very diverse work. Our crew was filled with many Latinos, African-Americans, Asians and White Americans, which gave a lot of opportunities and created a very good balance filled with diversity– something you can clearly see in the result of this movie that was awarded, which was “Real Me”. When you look, you see a diversity that was a part of our reality when creating this project. I think having won an award for this particular work was a really awesome thing because it proved to us that we are going on the right path to achieve the diversity we dream of.

October 19, 2020

In Focus

Defying the Limits of Lockdown: The Juilliard School

Throughout this season, we will be spotlighting past winners who have defied the limits. Defied the limits of lockdown, defied the limits of geography as well as shining a light on those producing award-winning work from diverse and minority communities.

First up, we spoke with Marathon Digital – a revolutionary social media company representing Broadway shows and other live entertainment clients in New York City and around the world, who converts fans to customers by cultivating communities and creating quality multimedia content across platforms. 

Marathon Digital worked with the renowned team at The Juilliard School in NYCFounded in 1905, The Juilliard School is a world leader in performing arts education. The school’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of artistic education for gifted musicians, dancers, and actors from around the world so that they may achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens. Currently more than 800 artists from 44 states and 42 countries and regions are enrolled at Juilliard, where they appear in over 700 annual performances in the school’s five theaters; at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and David Geffen halls and at Carnegie Hall; as well as other venues around New York City, the country, and the world.

We will be featuring their piece, Bolero Juilliard, in our upcoming digital screening series! This piece features a musical and choreographed performance of Bolero, entirely filmed and choreographed remotely.

How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of 2020?  

There were MANY things that changed with the unexpected year that 2020 has turned out to be. First, we typically work in the Broadway space but have expanded beyond that due to the need for all arts institutions to switch to an exclusively digital presence. It has allowed us to collaborate with new partners and has stretched us to do work that is outside of our typical day-to-day.

We also are a team that is extremely collaborative. In “normal life” we all work out of the same office, constantly discuss the creative process and rely on each other’s feedback to make our work the best it can be. This changed to more Slack and Zoom conversations, as meeting in person was not an option.

What’s the most important lesson you learned while needing to adapt to an unpredictable world environment? 

In adapting to an unpredictable world environment, we’ve learned patience with ourselves and others. We had to shift to learn new skills and new ways to effectively communicate. At some times it can be frustrating, but shifting your mindset to give space for the fact that this is new to everyone, and allowing time for a learning curve was necessary. It is infinitely easier to read body language and be in the presence of others while creating, and right now that just isn’t possible.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced and what surprised you about creating during a lockdown? 

Working in isolation, the biggest hurdle and surprise was how seductive tunnel vision is. With such an intricate piece like Bolero, it’s easy to lose yourself in your work and *poof!*,12 hours goes by in a flash. In a group setting, we help balance each other out.

How do you think the outcome of your work changed given the environment it was made in?

This work is totally unique to our usual fare because prior to the lockdown, Zoom videos weren’t a concept. It’s difficult to compare to prior works for that reason alone. That said, the influx of the output of Zoom videos challenged us to create a work that would stand out among the saturation of this style. The outcome of this piece was much more involved and intricate because it was important to communicate a deep sense of emotion. Putting aside the usual goals of promotion or entertainment, Bolero Juilliard had to communicate the school’s response to the lockdown and capture the breadth of their reactions– the work was a direct result of its environment. 

What do your Telly wins mean to you?

Winning these Tellys means that even in this environment, we can muster up the resilience and creativity to make works that have social resonance. It’s an honor to be recognized but more so, to be part of a group who challenges themselves to contribute to culture, particularly during such challenging times.





September 3, 2020

In Focus

In Focus: Citizen Dane

For 25 years, Citizen Dane has supplied Denmark’s largest and most demanding businesses with visual communication. The company is situated in the center of Copenhagen and is a market leader in Denmark. Citizen Dane is part of The International Quorum of Motion Picture Producers (IQ) – an international network in 50 different countries.

We sat down (virtually of course!) with their in-house director, Marcus Mandal. Marcus has made many films for clients such as Maersk, Novo Nordisk, GN, ISS, Bestseller and Rolls-Royce. He has also achieved worldwide acknowledgment for his documentary films including  “KAREN BLIXEN – Out of This World”, featuring Meryl Streep.
Marcus graduated from the Danish School of Journalism and the University of Copenhagen (Political Science). He has worked with TV news as a reporter, anchor, and editor-in-chief. For 10 years he was a director and editor-in-chief at Nordisk Film.
And in addition to this, he made the Guinness Book of Records holding the world record in snowball-juggling marathon!

Citizen Dane have won 14 Telly Awards during the years, and you have directed most of the films. How does that feel?

We are all very proud when we are awarded by Telly Awards. It’s an award that is respected among our colleagues around the world – and the statues look very impressive on the mantelpiece in our meeting room. For the team who have invested a lot of energy in the projects, it’s great to feel that other professionals appreciate what we are doing.

Our clients are usually very impressed, and they can often use the appreciation to get better publicity.

What kind of film has been awarded?

At Citizen Dane we have specialized in corporate films, but we also do documentaries and many films about HSE. And all the genres have been awarded by The Telly Awards! 

What do you find important in a successful corporate movie?

For us it’s vital to be involved in the films at a very early stage, so we can develop creative ideas and write the scripts ourselves.

We always try to focus on people in our films – not on impressive buildings or machinery. What it is important to most companies are their employees; and as film is a great media to communicate feelings and emotions, people are far more interesting. 

What are your latest works?

I have just made a series of 10 small films to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Danish company GN, which is a global leader in intelligent audio solutions.  In this production we developed new ways of making old black and white photos and paintings work in a modern video.

And in a very different genre, we produced a music video with 40-year-old Christian who is diagnosed with autism and who wrote and performs his own song.  

It’s always fun and inspiring to be challenged by new topics…


July 13, 2020

In Focus

In Focus: ESPN CreativeWorks

ESPN CreativeWorks is a combination of creative experts who live and breathe sports, in-house at ESPN, made up of creative directors, designers, digital developers, writers, producers, editors, project managers, strategists. We leverage our direct access to actionable fan data and ESPN products to build creative solutions that natively integrate into our platform as brands are seeking higher quality, contextually relevant placements. Brands turn to us as the resource for big ideas, fan insights, league relationships and access to athletes, as well as to build campaigns that live across any platform, reaching fans on every device. We also develop the creative for one of the most valuable sports brands in the world – our own brand – ESPN.

How do you balance keeping your own branding consistent as well as staying on message for the companies your work is highlighting?

The first thing we do is make sure we are staying true to our core identity, we know what fans expect when they see those four, iconic, red letters. The next step is to figure out how to marry our brand with a partner brand without diluting either. They have a voice and tone, like we do and we try to honor that. It is a great creative challenge and one that we love tackling every day.

What are some essential elements to having a successful creative team?

Diversity, not only in the people that comprise our team but also in thought and capabilities. Collaboration is something else we take a lot of pride in as ESPN is a vast organization and to get anything done, you need to work across groups and departments. And then of course there is our deep knowledge of sports. Our team is composed of creative people from all walks of life and the one thing that bonds all of us is our passion for sports.

How has your work structure changed with all of the fluctuation of the 2020 landscape?

While we are all working remotely from home, we are doing a lot more video conferences as opposed to conference calls. Even in this strange time, our creativity and passion for the work hasn’t changed at all. At ESPN we believe in, “constraints breed creativity.” This has really come through in our recent efforts. We are already looking forward to entering our latest work into the 42nd Telly Awards.

What do your Telly wins mean to you and the team?

It’s an honor to be recognized at such a prestigious award show, especially when you consider all the work that goes into creating our content. It’s a true testament to our tremendous team and how we all work together.


May 11, 2020

In Focus

In Focus: Rückenwindfilm GmbH

Rückenwindfilm GmbH was founded in 2014 by Christoph Deja, who was working for 9 years as creative director in a Munich based agency. Pretty soon the necessity of expanding the team became clear. Hana Tsutsumi, Producer and Director, with an international background joined in early 2015.

Working for clients like Red Bull, BMW and SAP, amongst others, we expanded our team again by the end of 2018 with Julia Konitzer, another creative.

With a team of three our company is based in the heart of Munich from where we operate all over the world.

What are the most important elements of videography that allow you to capture and portray the freshness and speed of the equipment and sports on display?

The most exciting aspect of our job is that you can never generalize a theme or subject. You always have to come up with new ideas and techniques that best capture the essence of your subject and convey the message you want to bring across. If you feature a sport like in “What It Takes to Fly the Red Bull Air Race,” the most important thing is to understand the sport. For me this means: talking to the pilots. If you’ve got that, the vast variety of modern equipment enables you to transport the message and fascination to the audience.

For a spot like “A story in 2.8 seconds,” it was all about bringing dynamic motion to a standing object. This led to the decision of working with a special and unusual light design.

What is usually the first step of your creative process when working to showcase a product?

Before we start to develop an idea or concept for a film, we want to understand two things. First, the product itself and its USP.  Second, the intent the client has with the video, such as the message they want to bring across and the audience they are aiming for. Combining these two aspects usually lead us to the first idea of a concept.

Who else in Germany is creating work that inspires you?

There are so many great creative heads out there, it is impossible and simply unfair to point out a single one. A lot of production companies and agencies are producing amazing and groundbreaking films. This is one reason why awards like The Telly Awards are so important, because simply watching the Winners works offers so much inspiration and new input.

What do these wins mean for you and your team?

Coming from representatives of the industry, these awards are very special to us. We feel honored and happy. It is great when all the hard work and efforts are recognized and appreciated in this way. Also, it’s always an especially nice way of validating the whole team, knowing what we can achieve and create together. It makes us happy, knowing that we are not only privileged enough to love our work and what we do, but also that it leaves an impression on others. It pushes us to keep striving for even greater ideas and works. Eventually, it also makes clients happy, and hopefully confirms that they should continue working with us on future projects as well. 

April 6, 2020

In Focus

Christie’s Auctions & Private Sales

When filming art, how do you strike a balance between letting the piece speak for itself and creating something new, and visually exciting? The video team at Christie’s auction house knows exactly how. Founded in 1766, Christie’s has auctioned and sold some of the world’s great fine art, antiques, interiors, and more. Today, they’re expert video team helps give auctioneers and art lovers alike a window into their process, the stories of pieces coming to auction, as well as behind the scenes content into artists studios. In our latest In Focus interview, we spoke with Lucy Jackson, Production Manager for the London Video Content Team on what the creative process looks like for her team, the most memorable piece she’s shot, and more.

How do you go about finding the right balance of displaying creative videography and also letting the art you’re capturing speak for itself?

We look at creating a mood around an artwork through lighting or slow close-up camera moves, to highlight the texture of the paintwork. We are always respectful of the subject matter and show the work in full at some point in the film.

There are occasions where we take the energy of an artwork and let that inform the way we edit a film or trailer. An artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat really lends itself to a punchy, fast paced edit to reflect the artist’s style. 

 What does a day look like for the team at the start of the creative process? 

We meet as a team every Monday morning to talk through new briefs and projects. The brief might be for a film to promote an artwork coming to auction at Christie’s, or for evergreen content such as an artist studio visit or a collecting story.

Art historical research is at the heart of our films, so we will often take a brief and look deeper into the potential stories around an artwork. We work closely with in-house specialists who have scholarly knowledge within the genre that they work, such as Contemporary Art or Old Master painting, which allows us to have expert insight into the object that we are filming.  

We tend to produce and direct films ourselves, and work with the director of photography to plan how to best shoot the film in the style we are looking for.

We have departments spanning many categories, which don’t just focus on art, such as natural history, decorative objects, Islamic artifacts, furniture design, and books and manuscripts. We have an incredible raft of intriguing items to film, which keeps us all enthusiastic to continue to create engaging content. 

What has been your most memorable piece to shoot?

Filming George Michael’s art collection was a real highlight last year, and having access to the extensive collection of Young British Artists that he owned felt like a real privilege. Within that sale, there were many large-scale Damien Hirst formaldehyde works, including The Incomplete Truth, which dominated the gallery.

Who else in the UK is making work that inspires you?

In terms of video platforms, Nowness is consistently creative and stylish in their delivery.  

We work with a team of freelancers on a daily basis including:

Bruno Ramos – Fantastic DoP for filming artworks 

Fgreat –  Animation studio that creates a beautiful treatment of artworks in 3D

Chris Vickers  – Director specialising in motion graphics 

What do your Telly wins mean to you and the team?

It means a great deal. It is a recognition of the team’s hard work, and will keep us motivated for the year to come! 

March 9, 2020

In Focus

In Focus: Woodwork on how to run an award-winning creative studio

For this month’s In Focus interview, we sat down with Marvin Koppejan, Creative Director and Founder at Woodwork, a Telly Award-winning creative studio based in Amsterdam! 

The Woodwork team is an expert at directing, producing, and animating high quality content to help brands and agencies tell their story. Working with a multi-disciplined and reliable team, they work across a variety of styles and techniques, including Film, 2D, Motion Graphics, Cell, and 3D animation. As lovers of bold and colorful design, they have created commercials, branding, online, and product films for brands across the tech, service, lifestyle, and fashion industries.

What are the essential elements to having a successful creative team? 

  • First: Communication. We are constantly training our communication skills with one another, such as working with a team coach for instant. It’s not always easy to keep a clear and open communication stream going while working behind computers all day; especially with tight deadlines. 
  • Synergy. Some overlap in skills, but also a speciality. 
  • Organization. It is key for creativity to thrive. If your company is not streamlined in terms of production, your creative team will suffer from it, resulting in working long hours.
  • Learning/Eagerness. If you can dream it, you can do it. We have to keep getting better at what we do, so we can create anything we come up with. More skills, more glory.  
  • Positive vibes. Obviously you need to have positive vibes. Compliment one another when needed, but we also have to challenge each other. I donʼt believe in a huge hierarchy. In the end, everyone can come up with a valuable idea, as long as it makes sense. Second, donʼt take work too seriously. It has to be fun, this way you make the best work. 

How do you reach a good mix of your own creative design ideas with an adequate representation of a clientʼs brand? 

Almost every project brings its own challenges and opportunities. We like to dip our toes in different styles and flavors so we can easily adapt to a brand’s characteristics. By orienting ourselves on many different topics, we can find a unique and interesting perspective that will bring something new or fresh to the brand. This creates more ownership of the project and a nice collaboration with our clients. 

Other than that, it is also very important to be very clear with your clients on what steps you take or will take. Test the waters to see how open they are for new routes. Share a lot of suggestions in the treatment phase and present different directions if needed. This will open doors to mold the project into something interesting for us, as well as for the client. We are not in this business to simply please clients. We’re also in this to fulfill our creative needs—our own urge to create!

Who else in the Netherlands is creating work that inspires you? 

That is a tough one; inspiration comes from all corners. Since everyone in the studio would have a different list, here’s a combined studio list varying from design, motion, art, and life. Some random picks:


  • Dana Lixenberg

Motion & Design:



What do these wins mean for you and your team?

One step closer to world domination! Itʼs nice to be rewarded and it helps boost morale—a little moment to reminisce on all the hard work we put in our projects. To be honest, we started sending in work only two years ago. We won an award with the ADCN in the Netherlands via our agency client, and after that we got the award fever. Since then, we try to fill our cabinet with shiny awards to impress our clients.

February 10, 2020


In Focus: SAP on smart recruiting and employer brand videos

Our next In Focus interview features multinational software company SAP and their Global Employer Brand Team, which is made up of experts in recruitment marketing, talent attraction, and engagement and employer branding. Producing Telly Award-winning video content in the employer brand space is just one of many tactics that their team is responsible for. 

Here’s what we asked their team: 

Where do you/where does your team gather inspiration? 

We gather inspiration from our very own employees—more than 100,000 strong. Recruiting in the digital age, especially in the IT space, is a challenge. Recruiters and Talent Sourcers have to take their recruitment strategy to the next level to find the best talent. SAP has learned that by developing a strong employer value proposition and employment brand, and by coordinating efforts throughout the company, we can find the best talent and create strong brand evangelists that will help us thrive in the years to come.

What does a day look like for the team at the start of creative process? 

When starting our creative process, we focus on two key questions:

  • What makes a great employment brand?
  • What makes a great place to work?

The key to answering these ‘what makes’ questions is understanding what employees, candidates, and the market truly think and feel toward working for a business; not what a marketing department says or ‘spins’.  Real people, real authentic opinions, expressed honestly.

What do your Telly wins mean to you and the team? 

Knowing that our videos attract great talent and engage audiences, but are also regarded highly by our peers is a great motivator. We continually look for ways to improve what we do, and so winning Telly Awards is a great motivator to continue to strive to be our best in the employment brand space, the best for our candidates and our employees. Having the recognition that our employer brand videos stack up against peers in commercial marketing is fantastic.

How has such a focus on people and diversity made your team different from others? 

Mediocre recruitment is easy. Good recruitment is challenging. The best recruiting is more than tough: it’s an art.

 Though often overlooked, recruiting can have a huge impact on an organization. What we do can make or break our organizations. If we attract average talent, the quality of the organization’s work and ultimately its financial profitability will only be average. But if we attract the best talent, our organizations will be stronger, and the bottom line can be phenomenal. It’s why talent-driven organizations tend to be the most successful. 

This is where employment branding, essential to modern talent acquisition, comes into play. We need candidates to go beyond knowing and understanding SAP to actively caring about it. We need our employees to champion SAP as a great place to work. The employment brand team must harness the authentic voice of the employee to spread the word about SAP. 

To find the right person, we make an effort to recruit from groups that are sometimes neglected by other companies. Historically, women have been underrepresented in the technology field and SAP is working to change that. Producing great video content that highlights these messages, showcases our people and allows our audiences to see the diversity within our organization is a huge factor in our employer brand.


July 16, 2019

In Focus

In Focus: Concierge Auctions on capturing the world’s finest properties on video

For this month’s In Focus, we sat down with Lily Smith, Video Producer for Concierge Auctions, a marketplace for buying and selling the world’s finest properties, as well as a multiple Telly Award winner!

Lily has the enviable job of creating marketing film’s for some of the world’s most incredible homes, overseeing everything from concept to post-production.

Lily recently recently produced a short documentary on Concierge Auctions’ Key For Key™ giving program, which provides a new home for a family in need for every home we sell. The documentary depicts the stories of the families that received homes through their partnership with Giveback Homes and TECHO El Salvador, and the impact that these homes have on the community at large.

Prior to Concierge Auctions, Lily pursued multiple documentary media projects whose topics centered around a number of community-led initiatives around Austin. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film from The University of Texas at Austin

How does your creative process with these homes begin? Do you let the physical properties and their histories spike your creativity, or do you bring them to life with broader ideas that you have prior?

Before our team gets into our creative process, we research each property and storyline. Ideas come to us based on our initial observations, feelings, and the information we’ve gathered about the home. Because our buyers live around the globe, we strive to evoke what we believe is the desired lifestyle of the home and area. It’s crucial for us to understand why the owners care about their home and what makes their home special in order for us to help find someone who will appreciate it as much as they do. All of the properties we market differ in story, landscape, and ways to entertain. Oftentimes, the home shows its own story, whether it’s a place for raising a family, a place to unwind on vacation, or a significant historic treasure. 

What has the ability to use aerial videography done for your creative process? 

Aerial videography is key to our films because it shows the homes in their totality and from all  angles. The landscape and surrounding areas, the community, the views they can share with their families—aerial footage gives a buyer a complete sense of the property, because you’re seeing it in a light that potential buyers might not see from a typical walk-through tour. Sunrise and sunset shots are some of the most important aspects we make sure to capture on every shoot, so the viewer can imagine waking up with these views. There’s a tranquil quality to these shots, and the color adds a layer of warmth to the physical structure of the home. 

Instead of just focusing your content around a purchase of the physical, you incorporate human aspects and elements of the surrounding lifestyles, into your winning pieces. Is this a deliberate part of your strategy and how do you think it influences potential buyers?

With our films, we strive to give our potential buyers a visceral sense of what it would feel like to live in these spaces. There are a few different ways we incorporate human aspects into our films. 

For example, we had a property in Hawaii that was owned by the same family for five generations, and it was even once used as a retreat for King Kamehameha III, so it had a lot of history and significance to the sellers, and to Hawaiian culture as a whole. We filmed the seller walking barefoot across the grounds as she told the story of her family’s legacy as it relates to this sacred land in Hawaii. We incorporated these really intimate moments, like her smelling the flowers from the centuries-old established garden, wading through the waters at the bottom the 50-foot waterfall on the property — all as she’s describing the property’s “mana,” or essence. In this case, we wanted the seller to tell her own story in order to attract a buyer who would also find value in the rich history and unique characteristics of this property.

In other instances, we work with talent to set the mood and create a lifestyle for what we believe is fitting for the home and location. In our other winning piece, The Cragwood Estate in New Jersey, the owners shared archival photos of the home from the 1900s with our team so we aimed to emphasize the historic nature and perfectly preserved condition of the home, as we believed this would be appealing to the potential buyer. The script follows a little girl who explores the different spaces of the home trying to match the photos to the rooms in current day. We sparked curiosity in the viewer by pairing building music with the girl discovering the photos, admiring the details of the architecture, and taking the viewer through each room with a childlike energy and enthusiasm. The occasional surprise happens on these shoots; for example we discovered that the talent looked similar to the seller’s daughter. For this film, again, we speak to the emotional aspect of the property as told through the lens of a story, giving viewers a sense of the space and architectural details. 

For each property we work as a team to analyze what the owners love about their home in order for us to capture the home’s authentic story, which in turn sparks excitement in the viewer’s eyes for what lies beyond the physical structure. 

What do these wins mean for your team?

If a film is appreciated by our sellers and buyers, it means that we succeeded in telling the story of the property and our company’s values—bringing a buyer and simultaneously giving a memory piece to the seller. We’re honored to be recognized by the Telly Awards for our work, and it means even more knowing that we are being evaluated by some of the top professionals in the industry.


June 11, 2019

In Focus

In Focus: Branding Shorts on the power of short form video for brands

Our season may be over, but our In Focus Series continuesThis month, we sat down with Micki and Tony, co-founders of production company, Branding Shorts. Read below to hear how they begun their own company after years of working on Madison Avenue, their guiding company principles and what’s in store for later this year.

Branding Shorts was founded on the idea that short branded films are a powerful marketing tool. What had you seen in your previous careers that led you to have such a strong belief in short form video?

We are a married couple and advertising/marketing veterans, who in our previous careers, saw a need in the market for short, branded videos that could help businesses grow.

MICKI: As a movie lover, I really believe video is one of the most powerful mediums to engage, to move, to deliver a message, to create impact, and to seed change. In my past life as a Madison Avenue SVP Creative Director, developing global campaigns for Coca Cola, P&G and many others, creating 30 second “movies,” illustrated how a good story with a strong emotional hook could have a positive effect on a brand, its employees, and audience. For example, one of my ad accounts was P&G’s Scope Mouthwash–at the time it was a dry brand that focused on the negative (bad breath), but when our team repositioned the creative, we changed the emphasis to the positive with a unique selling proposition in the form of mini romantic comedies that culminated in a kiss. It was a successful campaign that had a positive impact on the brand’s bottom line.   

In my many years as a Madison Avenue creative, working on the biggest brands in the world, was good training to create solid creative, beginning with a human insight or truism about a target audience and finding a message that connected with them. With only thirty seconds, every scene has a purpose. There’s no room for fluff.

TONY: I’ve worked for some of the largest companies in the world including American Express in marketing and business development roles. In my roles, I always ended up creating an opportunity to write and produce videos to help accomplish business objectives. And the reactions or results for the videos were always beyond expectations. Seeing these results led me to believe in the power of short form videos to help connect, engage, persuade, and drive the behavior of audiences for any business or organization.

Today, Branding Shorts produces videos for companies across the country; from local businesses to national brands and organizations like American Express, Rockefeller, the American Cancer Society, Pilgrim’s, Celgene, Lawry’s the Prime Rib and many more. We are honored to be recipients of 24 industry awards, including 12 Telly Awards. We are equally honored to be selected as Judges for the Telly Awards.

You are some key principles that guide your business? Could you share a couple of them and how you came about creating these?

When we first started Branding Shorts in 2008, we were applying what we knew from our big brand Advertising/Marketing experience to our videos. But as we grew, creating videos for local and national brands with teams across the country, we needed to outline some guiding principles to keep us and our teams unified in approach. Here are a few:

1) Begin with the end in mind. We start out by listening. Asking questions. What does the client want the end result to be? What do they want the video to accomplish? What action do they want the audience to take? Taking sufficient time up front to figure out the end result will prevent issues down the road. One advantage of being a smaller agency is our ability to adapt quickly and move nimbly, especially if a client makes a shift in the middle of a project. When you’re a much larger agency that’s sometimes difficult.

2) Authenticity. Even though videos are often used to promote a cause or business we never want the audience feel they are being sold to. We want to engage them and create an emotional connection. We want the folks speaking in our videos to be genuine. Speak from their heart.  We work a lot with real people and developed a few techniques that help them to open up and shine, including some Tony learned from training at Chicago’s Second City Theater.

3) Message-driven creative. Since we take videos from creative to production, we are strategic in our approach and pride ourselves in developing bullet-proof creative. Which means we start with a strategy, work with our clients to find the single most important key message and develop a script or outline that carries that message, making sure every scene is to push that message forward.

4) Cost-effective execution. Regardless of the size of a company or budget, we offer creative solutions to create a compelling video. Before we begin production, we plan up front what the client might want to use the footage for down the road. Planning this enables us to maximize the shoot day, accommodating for future videos. We also have a patented product called Branding Shorts Express, which allows anyone, anywhere to upload content through our website portal, pick a soundtrack, and get a professional video created from their content by an experienced editor.  

Whether it’s a small or large client, we find a way to creatively tell a story within a client’s budget.

For example, a small men’s underwear company (Melangefit) came to us with an assignment to create a social media series of videos around their men’s underwear line. But they had a very small budget. So, we got creative and developed a big idea for their various needs (sports, business, leisure) and a campaign hook: “He’s got a pair.” Using stock footage, music and product photos, we created a fun, memorable campaign. In fact, we extended the idea for a holiday promo using Santa “has a pair” which won a 2019 Telly Award.   

When kicking off a new project with a client, how do you help them to marry/translate their brand needs with a compelling video story?

Before diving into a project, we set up time with our client to go over what we call our “Creative Development Questions” which helps us align on the video’s purpose, target audience insights, desired response, and brand message. From there, we create a script which weaves the message into a compelling story especially crafted for a specified target audience. Even though we develop a pretty tight script, we do leave room for spontaneity and “magic nuggets.” We build this blueprint to make sure we’re all on the same “page” before production. In my ad agency days, we used to say we don’t want to go to the “how come” meeting. It’s about starting with bullet proof creative that’s on message and begins with the end in mind.

Here at The Telly Awards, we have seen a consistent and substantial increase in the quality and quantity of branded content entries. What are your thoughts as to why more and more brands are turning to this medium to share their brand stories?

We think there are a few reasons. First it’s more economical than ever before to create polished, professional video. In the past, it would take a full crew and post production houses to make a professional video. A very costly endeavor. Today, with digital cameras, gear, and affordable editing software, just about any business can have their own video without breaking the bank.

The avenues to showcase videos continue to grow as technology evolves. It’s not the old days where people just watch ads on their TV.  In today’s mobile world they’re also on their phones, laptops, tablets, in addition to taxi screens, ferry boats, at trade shows, and so many more places.

As we often tell our clients, “nobody has an attention span anymore.” So you need to engage them quickly. And what better way then a medium like short videos that can not just be watched but easily shared. In fact, we have seen a stat that over 90% of people who watch a video on their phone share that video with others.

Having said that, we see a lot of work that’s beautifully shot and edited, but without a relevant story or message—the most important element for a video is to drive results. Story with a message. Told in the most visually economically way, where every scene drives the message forward in a compelling way.   

What’s coming up for Branding Shorts this year?

One of the things we’re looking to this year is producing original content. We have a number of intellectual properties we plan to start developing in the coming year, and are currently seeking partnerships to kick off production.

We’ll also continue to leverage our strategically based crews in cities across the country like Chicago, NYC, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, etc. to provide our clients with a national footprint and ability to create powerful videos economically.

And we’ll continue use the power of video to help causes local and national to raise awareness and funds. Whether it’s Pet Rescue organizations, the American Cancer Society, or local issues, we’ll use our resources to help make a difference.

So it will be a very busy and fruitful year ahead.