For many filmmakers, branded content is a tough code to crack. With variables including — but not limited to — product, budget, timelines, and internal politics, it may seem like a game not worth jumping into. But, allow Scott Ballew, YETI’s Head of Content, to simplify it for you.
The tagline at the end of Volvo’s new ad, “Moments,” says: Sometimes the moments that never happen matter the most. If there’s a corresponding idea in filmmaking, it might be this: Sometimes what you don’t show is the most affecting. In “Moments” — an ad as heartwarming/heart-wrenching as any we’ve ever seen — a young girl speculates about the rest of her life before starting her first day of school. What friends will she make? Where will she travel? Who will she meet? What unfolds is a fantasy within a fiction: an entire life in less than four minutes. What you see is beautiful, striking even. But ultimately, it’s just a stencil for what you don’t see. The story — the girl’s life — is the negative space.
Documentary filmmaking takes a lot of grit, to say the least. The conditions can be anything but favorable, the stories you’re hunting for can feel just out of reach, and the characters can sometimes be at their breaking point. After two devastating hurricanes hit the island of Puerto Rico in 2017, knocking out their power grid, awareness around the island’s situation surged before steadily tapering off.
Defining the role of a producer is like trying to hit a moving target. One day they may be drumming up funding and the next day they may be booking flights for their team. Or, in Lindsey Hagen’s case, doling out ginseng tablets to help prevent altitude sickness and climbing a 19,000-foot volcano in Ecuador. As the executive producer on La Cumbre, she played a decidedly hands-on role from start to finish. In fact, she formulated the film’s concept herself on a 3-month hike across New Zealand. Her goal: to bring a group of adaptive athletes to a region where “adaptive athlete” wasn’t even in the vernacular.