Interview: Doubleshot
Posted 20th of February, 2017

Doubleshot shares how you can create strong video content, even on a small budget.

Doubleshot is a Bristol-based video production company who work with a vast range of brands (including the likes of Rolls-Royce, Zurich Insurance and Sony) to create adverts, training films and case-studies. With video content being such a prolific part of social media, we caught Ed Thomas (Founder and Director of Doubleshot) at Spike Island Cafe to find out more about how videos can assist the development of your brand.


Twitter: @doubleshotvideo

Instagram: @doubleshotvideo

Firstly, how did Doubleshot come about?

We’ve been going for a while - just over 10 years. I set it up back in 2006 after working as Creative Director at an agency in Bath. Originally, we were involved in a lot of design, branding and web work too. But we started to notice that a lot of clients didn’t have good video content and we didn’t want to use mediocre material. So we realised that we needed to help them. At this stage we started to reduce design work and really focus on video production. The main question was how could we help businesses of all shapes and sizes have great video.

Could you give us a brief run-down of some of the projects you’ve worked on or are currently working on?

One of the bigger projects we completed recently was series of three travel promos for Visit Eastbourne for local agency Digital Visitor. We made a series of films presented by Michaela Strachan - a talented presenter, who is very easy to work with.

Then there’s Helpfulpeeps which was at the opposite end because they had a smaller budget and the turnaround was quick. To keep their budget low we got the client involved in the production, used local locations to shoot and included their friends rather than actors.

When working with small businesses and stricter budgets, would you say it’s fairly easy to overcome hurdles to keep costs to a minimum?

I think it depends who it is. Often with tech start-ups and apps, it’s been reasonably straightforward to produce what they want. Larger clients can be trickier as they there’s a lot of people you have to go through before you reach a decision-maker so it can take a lot longer; there are so many opinions to take into consideration. With a start-up for example, it’s usually a very small team with one clear vision, driven by a passion.

When you’re working with a small business however, you know that there’s a lot riding on that one video so there’s pressure. Even though it’s a smaller budget for us, it could be the entirety of their marketing budget.

For your clients, have you developed a structured creative approach to how you go about filming?

There’s no straightforward formula unfortunately, and the creative approach has to change each time. Each film has a different audience, different goals, a different brand - so the approach always has to be unique. But, like any piece of creative, it starts with a strong idea.

We have however, created a process that just about every film follows. Firstly we talk with the client to find out about their goals, audience and the channels they’d like to publish the video on. Second is the concept stage which is when we come up with ideas; this is the core to the whole process and probably the most important part. Then we start planning. Next we shoot. After this we edit and produce a rough cut which we show the client. We then meet the client for the review stage and if they’re happy with this we begin to polish by adding any finishing touches. The final stage is delivery.

That brings us nicely on to our next question. With social media becoming increasingly centralised around video content, have you noticed a prominent change in what you’ve been asked to produce in recent years?

Yes. What we’re getting asked for hasn’t really changed, but it is very rare now for a client to approach us and not need additional versions for social channels. 30-second and 15-second teasers that lead viewers back to the main video work very well. With auto-play being such a large feature on social channels too, we’re often asked to add subtitles.

The core, creative side of it hasn’t changed. It’s got to be a good idea and follows the principles of a good film making, but the way it’s packaged is changing. We try to encourage clients to maximise their budget, so don’t just think about a single video, but consider a suite of visual content for, say, the next three months. That way we’re squeezing as much marketing material as possible from a single shoot.

Having access to a smart phone grants anyone the power to make videos. Do you think technology is enabling people to create high-quality content with low budgets?

Yes and no. Cameras on phones are great, and there are times when we encourage people to create their own content in-house. Vlogging is the best example.

But it’s not just about making pretty shots; the craft of telling a story with film is difficult. There’s always the danger of people making content that doesn’t properly inform or persuade the audience, so it becomes a lost opportunity. And there’s also the danger of cheapening their brand.

For startups and small businesses, shooting video in-house is a great way to start and we try and help them do that.

What tips would you give someone who plans to create video content on their phone?

We have four tips. Shoot at landscape (unless it’s for Instagram Live or Snapchat Stories). Keep it steady and use a tripod. For a phone, a small lightweight one is fine. While your camera microphone is pretty good, you should really invest in a plugin microphone. Whilst people might forgive shoddy video quality, they won’t be so merciful when it comes to bad sound.

Finally make sure you light your subject. I think everyone knows what good lighting is these days since we’re constantly exposed to great images. But there’s a few things to bare in mind like sitting a subject near a window rather than having them sit directly under over-head office lighting, to eliminate panda-eyes.

With more people turning their hands at producing videos due to its increased accessibility, do you think it’s harder to ensure that content stands out?

Not at all. Just as we filter through articles and images, we’ve become very good at identifying what we do and don’t want to engage with online. Within a few seconds of flicking through our screens, we’re telling ourselves yes or no and only consume what suits us. Video is no different. If you have something good and something that offers value, viewers will watch it.

Last but not least, how do you think content in general will change in the next few years? With VR and 360 videos being such a big thing at the minute, do you see this continuing?

The future of video is exciting. There isn’t just one way to consume video anymore. We have 360, vertical, square, live… which means there isn’t just one way to make video. We’re starting to use drones too and aerial cinematography is certainly becoming a big thing.

But even with all these shifts in technology, the core should still be a good story that affects and engages with people in some way. What sort of screen you consume it on really doesn’t matter because this concept shouldn’t change.

We hope people will learn what platform they want to design content for, then tell the right story, in the right way, for that platform.

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