Michael Mason, founder of Perfect Chaos Films and proud supporter of film, philanthropy, Texas nonprofits, and the confluence of these areas, sat down with TANO to give his perspective on just how important a film can be to elevating the mission of your organization. From creating a piece that follows a story arc, to humanizing the story for the audience (hint: be yourself!), an impactful film can further your mission, engage donors, and make your organization that much more effective in serving the community.
TANO:What are the important components of a nonprofit film?
MM: The most important component is the who. Who are you as a nonprofit, who are you helping, who do you need a call to action from? These three whos’ are illustrated in the three acts of your video. This is the same as the three acts of any kind of storytelling-EXPOSITION, RISING ACTION and CLIMAX. In the first act you are introducing the viewer to yourselves and this part is crucial. Say interesting and human things about you and what you are trying to accomplish. Show them your softer side, your funny side, whatever you feel makes you unique. At this point you’ve built the trust necessary to gain empathy as you show them who needs the viewer’s help. Which leads to the climax, which is a call to action for the last WHO, the viewer.
TANO:How do you see film as integral to a nonprofit fulfilling its mission?
MM:You might have a great nonprofit group. A great purpose, great people, great processes. But one of the mistakes people make is assuming that because you’re a great nonprofit that people will automatically find you. As great as things such as word-of-mouth, social media and blogging are, we are a very visual people. Wharton School of Business says that a well-produced video increases information retention by 50%,and speeds up financial decisions by 72%. Video provides the 90% of communication that is nonverbal, things like body language and tone of voice. There are all kinds of trust barriers that are knocked down by video, which can mean everything in the nonprofit world.
TANO: What community service projects are you and Perfect Chaos Films especially proud of?
MM:We have contributed and done work with a few nonprofits in the state, which include Miracle Foundation, Prevent Child Abuse America and Austin Parks Foundation. Here is a video for an event we attended for Cure Duchenne:
TANO: What is the most effective way for a nonprofit to use its completed film to further its mission?
MM:It’s great to send your video to email subscribers, people who are already familiar with you will love the personal touch of video, which will increase retention. It’s vital to use social media, which is peerless for video sharing. Facebook alone represents a whopping 4 billion video streams a day and video sharing from one’s own network is exponentially more effective. Posting on YouTube is an absolute must. If YouTube is considered a search engine (as it certainly should be), it is the #2 largest search engine in the world and is largely the preferred search engine for millennials. And you need to make sure your video is prominently embedded on your website. The average time a person spends on a website with only text is 57 seconds. A website with video? 6 minutes.
TANO: Days of Giving are becoming a popular avenue for nonprofits to get a “shot in the arm” in funding. How could a film by Perfect Chaos help an organization achieve these goals?
MM:There are thousands of nonprofits in Texas. We can provide an inexpensive way to create a personable and aesthetically attractive way to stand out from the crowd. Below is our film for Square Root; though not a nonprofit film, it exemplifies how you can do a creative, stylish video on a tight budget:
TANO: What are some mistakes or lack of foresight that occur when trying to create a mission piece?
MM:The first mistake people make is the inclination to make something too long. Understandably, nonprofits have a lot to say and want to say all of it. But remember, your videos aren’t required viewing. We find 1 minute 30 seconds is usually the sweet spot. Also, people often come off as too formal in their videos. This is your chance to humanize yourself. Always speak from the heart.
TANO: What is the most effective use of film resources with nonprofits with a limited (and sometimes little to no) budget?
MM:Thanks to new technologies, film production is getting better and better for a lot less money. The most significant cost should be the skill and creativity of the filmmaker. You need someone with a great eye for shooting and editing. If you produce something yourself, anyone can tell and it will probably be a wasted effort. But now, with the right production team you can have something of cinematic quality for minimal cost.
TANO: What do you see as the biggest opportunities for Texas nonprofits and filmmakers in collaboration?
MM:We’re heading into a video marketing era. In fact, Cisco says that by 2017 69% of all internet consumer traffic will be video. I’d like to see nonprofits at the forefront of that movement. Not just utilizing video content but using it as a regular tool. You should definitely have a good culture video once a year but why stop there? Have a great charity event you’d like to capture? Maybe an infographic explainer video about what you do? Maybe some testimonials?
At a certain price point there’s no reason nonprofits shouldn’t utilize quarterly video projects, even monthly in some cases. Here’s an example of a testimonial style video we did for the Austin Chamber of Commerce. It’s something sharp and visually pleasing that can be created easily and quickly, from some simple interviews and still photos:
Austin Chamber of Commerce Austinite of the Year
TANO:What are some resources/websites you would recommend for a nonprofit preparing to create its mission film?
MM:I really like this YouTube Channel for the DoGooder Video Awards. These are awards that recognize nonprofits for successfully utilizing video to spread their message. It’s also a great place for getting ideas about different video styles.
TANO: Where do you see Perfect Chaos Films in 3 years? In 10 years?
MM:Our goal is to grow as a production company, but be known as the production company for nonprofits. Nonprofits are our passion and nothing would make us prouder than seeing our nonprofits get their message out there as effectively as the big brands, the Apples or Dells of the world. When you can’t outspend a little creativity can go a long way to even the playing field.
As a commitment to TANO members ready to take this integral step of creating a media piece to elevate its mission, Perfect Chaos Films is offering an additional 10% off its already affordable rates to TANO Members. With your organization’s mission, and a film expert’s expertise, Maybe we will see you a the Oscars! #nonprofitpower