I walked into Fog Coast HQ this morning without a mask. It was the first time, since moving into our new office location last November, where I’ve been able to do such a thing. At the time I was one of five people in our 500 person building. I spent many late nights in our office, often alone, editing videos of zoom calls and stock footage, wondering how much longer we could hold on without getting out on a film shoot.

As one might imagine, being a video production company that shoots a majority of their projects on location was not a sustainable business model during covid times. As a result we were forced to adapt and become more creative with the way we conducted business. Some of which consisted of ramping up animation and pushing out a new service where we would take control over our subject’s phone camera and record footage and interviews remotely.

Easily the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced as a company was maintaining business when everyone was locked down. The good news is that as I write this article we are coming off the busiest month in Fog Coast’s 4 year history. I often tell people that it feels like all of the lost work from covid got bottled up in a volcano. In March of this year, when the vaccines started rolling out, we started getting to a place of normalcy. Resulting in that volcano erupting and the projects started coming in hot. And I mean HOT, like lava hot ;)

Like much of what we experienced during the pandemic, there’s a lot that we are happy to leave behind. However, there is one realization that became abundantly clear to us, which will be used to propel our production company forward.

While the ways we captured and acquired footage changed to zoom calls, stock footage, animations, and existing assets, the core goal of what we did with every project remained the same: to make sure our videos tell a good story.

Storytelling has always been something that’s woven into the fabric of Fog Coast’s culture. But it wasn’t until we became so incredibly limited in what we had to work with, that it was thrusted to the forefront of our minds. In fact, I would go as far to say that telling an impactful story is the single most important rule of filmmaking.

On my first day of film school six years ago, a slide popped up during our orientation of some of the most profitable movies of all time. I’ll never forget the slide that showed the Blair Witch Project’s production budget of $60,000 with a box office profit of $248.6 million. I struggled to understand how it was even possible at the time. They literally strapped camcorders to a bunch of actors and had them run through a forest for a week. But six years later I’ve learned that the Blair Witch Project and many other films/videos with strong returns all have one thing in common – impactful storytelling.

Telling an impactful story does not always require a large film crew with 6k cameras, lighting, makeup, and pro audio. Sure, those things are awesome and make for some beautiful and professional looking shots and certain projects do require these types of people and gear. However, I’d argue that I can tell the same story with footage shot on an iPhone than I can with footage shot on a RED. This certainly comes with some exceptions, but what differentiates a good video production company from a great one is their ability to tell a good story.

There are many steps that go into telling a good story. A lot of which are worked out in pre-production. The entire goal of the production company should be to fully understand the client’s goals and objectives of the project. Then they’ll be able to do what is necessary to put themselves in the best position possible to acquire or create quality assets to tell an impactful story.

Every step thereafter should be laser focused on storytelling, whether it’s production or post-production. As a production company, constantly ask yourself, does this contribute to the story I’m trying to tell?

And for clients – next time you are sourcing a video production company, I encourage you to dive a little deeper than the showreel on the homepage. Watch some of the videos in the portfolio and really look for whether or not there are impactful stories being told. Carry this into your pre-production approach as well. Make sure the focus is always on the story.

Orson Welles once said, “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet”. So instead of chasing down the fanciest gear, focus on finding a good poet.

Written By: Andrew Klein, Executive Producer, Fog Coast Productions