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  • Hamilton McAfee

Three Things Every Amazing Video Needs



We’re constantly asking ourselves questions at Matchlight about what we do, why we do it, and how to do it better. “What makes a good video? What goals do we have for all of our projects? How do we know we’ve done our job as filmmakers when we deliver a project to a client?”

For a long time, these questions stumped us. Defining success in our industry is hard. Sometimes we’d make a pretty video that got our client stoked, only to find out that it didn’t help their mission grow in the slightest because it only got 12 views on their Vimeo page. Or sometimes we’d make a video with a lot of pretty footage that didn’t actually evoke an emotional response from the audience. We finally got fed up and decided to consider these questions with our “serious hats” on.

We opened the archives and looked over all of our past projects from our individual careers. We looked at projects we admired. We talked to our clients. In all of this, we were looking for the common threads of what worked in each sphere, and what threads of success we saw connecting our projects. After our exploration, discussion, and debate, we discovered three things: successful projects must be beautifully composed, successful projects must be emotionally compelling, and successful projects must be practically effective. And we decided, as a team, that Matchlight would never stop learning how to get better at all three. Here’s a short word on each.


1. Successful video projects require beautiful composition. How a project looks and sounds is the first thing that can either make or break an audience’s trust, and trust is the thing you need in order to capture an audience. Poor visuals, or (God forbid) poor audio can compromise the integrity of a video faster than anything. Excellence in this sphere is how we set the stage for our message, and how we win over an audience to believe what we’re saying.

2. Successful video projects need to be emotionally compelling. And I’m not just talking about the music selection. If beautiful composition is what gets an audience in the front door, emotional connection is what keeps them around for a conversation. We don’t watch, re-watch, and re-re-watch videos that don’t inspire something in us with their message. Pretty videos that don’t prioritize emotional connection are a recipe for Instagram spam, and nobody likes Instagram spam. 

3. Successful lvideo projects need to be practically effective. Videos are not “one-size-fits-all”, and they’re not even really “one-size-fits-most”. Organizations have needs all over the map, not all in the same place, so assuming that the video that worked for one will work for the other is, honestly, naive. What good is a video or short film if it doesn’t help push a cause closer to its goal? I’ll say it: it’s no good at all. A successful project needs to be designed to actually help the client.   Your video is not successful unless your client is successful.   

As I said, we’re always learning how to do all of these better. Any project will always have room to be better looking/sounding, more emotionally compelling, and more practical for the client. However, to neglect the pursuit of any one of these is to neglect the pursuit of excellence, and our world does not need more content that isn’t excellent.   Cheers to the journey!!!

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