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Phil Cooke Podcast

Oct 25, 2018

Short films and videos are the number one marketing tool in America for companies, non-profits, ministries and even film studios. A 3-6 minute short film can tell the story of your cause or organization in a powerful way. 


46% of people who see a short video want to find out more. They’re interested enough to take the next step. The key is doing it well.


Here are 5 tips from Hollywood producer and media consultant Phil Cooke to shoot better short films and videos - plus bonus tips for shooting a great interview.


1. Video is about emotion, not facts. Statistics are great, but they don’t help you make an emotional connection.


For example, telling people the the number of wells you’ve dug or people you’ve saved from sex-trafficking or the numbers of meals you’ve served in your homeless outreach will not have as much impact as showing the story of someone’s life that was touched through your cause.


If you can show the story of a life transformed because of the work you do, that’s when people respond. 


2. Become a better interviewer. Make sure you’re asking the right questions and telling the right story.


- Show the person’s eyes. Think in terms of shooting straight on the interviewee instead of capturing a profile shot.

- Keep the camera eye level. Too high will diminish them. Too low will make them appear large (which might work in some situations).

- Keep the room distraction free. Make sure nobody is in the line of sight of the interviewee. 

- Select a safe place for the interview. If your interviewee feels uncomfortable for whatever reason, they’re not going to give you a good interview.

- Learn to ask questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no. You want a complete story, so it’s best if they can repeat the question back to you within their answer.


Work to build a relationship with the person you’re interviewing and find ways to help them feel at ease with you. Be creative when you need to when working with interviewees with unique needs or personalities. The way they tell their story is going to make or break your short interview.


3. Watch what other people are doing. Study short videos on Vimeo or Youtube. Keep your styles up by watching other people’s shooting style, lighting technique, etc. 


For example, if you’re creating videos for a church or ministry, find churches that you respect and admire and watch what they’re doing. Stay with the times by studying short videos. 


4. Learn to write. Learn enough about writing that you know how to tell a good story. Read books, take classes – study great writing. 


Recognize that writing techniques differ between a feature film or a six-minute video or a 30 second commercial. If you want to have an impact, learn to tell stories well.


5. Learn to sell yourself. Short videos are a great way to showcase your talent and can open doors for other projects.


Become good at positioning yourself in the marketplace. Learn how to pitch, brand and market yourself so you can get your work seen. Invest in your own ability to tell your story well.


The popularity of short videos makes it a powerful tool to tell your story.



For more tips on shooting film and video, visit Phil’s blog at


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