Often promo projects offer a vast range of options when it comes to telling the story. Knowing what direction to take can be difficult and confusing. Below, our instructors explain some keys in deciding how to focus and tell the most important story for a promo film.

STUDENT: I’ve chosen to do my project on an artist whose work is multi-dimensional. Do you have any tips on how I can keep it focused on her story and not dilute the story with everything she does? How do you decide the path to take in telling the story?

JC: It really boils down to who your attended audience is, what you want them to do – and a lot of this comes from asking someone. On one project recently, the client came to me and said, “We want a college promo.” I asked what they want people to do when they are done and they said, “Sign up for college.” Then you have to go and think through what’s the best way to showcase the college so that people will sign up. There’s not necessarily one right answer for that.

For the conference, I wanted people to sign up for the conference. We decided not to interview the people who run the conference but instead talk to attendees who had been and benefited from the conference. So that’s what you hear in the promo. We didn’t even talk to the people who run the conference.

So there are different approaches. You just have to decide – when people are watching it, who do you want to respond and what do you want them to do. Some people are going to say “I hated your project.” But that can be okay if they’re not your intended audience. You should listen to them, but that’s not who you are going for.

So, if your goal is to showcase the artist and do more of a human interest, and showcase their art, and say they sell it and “go to the website,” you might spend more time on who they are and why they got started and the reasons behind it.

If it’s a certain kind of art that they want people to buy, focus on that. You can cover too much of it and it doesn’t feel like any one thing stood out so decide on if the art is what needs to stand out and the person creating it is just kind of a side story, or is it the person who is creating it and what they create is the side story? Is it one piece that’s most important?

The big question is why? And the answer to that will help you figure out what direction to take. Because there are lots of different ways to do it, depending on who you are trying to reach and what you want them to do when they are done.

ANDREW: Choose your target audience. That really ties in all throughout your entire project. You really should figure that out at the beginning. That will determine what you focus on in the promo and the style that you choose.