Authenticity is the whole game
The future of hybrid, Billie Eilish, resilience, and lessons learned while not at Firefly
October is here, a point driven home by a sign at one of our favorite coffee shops (get the maple scones) last week…
With that in mind, quick public service announcement: If you have a video project that needs to be done by the end of the year, the time to reach out is now. (Not that we’ll say “no” if you call in November, but we may take a deep breath first).
On to the newsletter!
Something We Like: Authenticity
Zach: Authenticity is the most critical dimension of communication but it's also the subtlest. The most advanced AI will never be able to judge authenticity the way a human can. My nerd friends will disagree. They are wrong.
You can listen to a song performed by Miles Davis or Mississippi John Hurt and then you can listen to the exact same song played by Acme Elevator Music Factory—it could be the same notes in the same places, the audio waveform could look like a precise match—but you'd instantly know which is the real one.
So how do we achieve authenticity? This is a tricky question. Trying to appear authentic is inherently inauthentic. This is a spiritual truth. There's nothing less attractive than "trying too hard."
But with far too much marketing and communication messaging, authenticity isn't even considered. We get lost in strategies and tactics and story arcs, but it's important to remember that if people don't trust and believe us, our efforts are for nothing.
Here's the magical part: In my experience, when you lean into authenticity first, all those other things—strategies, targets, objectives—become clearer and the results are universally better.
There are as many ways to achieve authenticity as there are unique people in the world, but there's no need to be overwhelmed by that. In fact, the stuff that makes you most interesting and attractive—the best stuff—is the stuff you're already doing every day. And that's the stuff that, as commercial filmmakers and storytellers, we can help you, and others, to see.
We're going to be deep-diving into this subject this year and next.
Something We Learned: Firefly Shows How Hybrid Works
Matt: We used this space to talk about hybrid events a couple months back, and that was before the Delta variant forced many a meeting planner to recalculate their risk assessments. Our point then (and now) is that a successful hybrid event is not simply a livestream, but an entirely different show that provides the virtual audience with a unique (and, in some ways, superior) experience.
And now we’ve seen that play out on Delaware’s biggest stage — the 2021 Firefly Music Festival. Here’s Billie Eilish singing “Bad Guy,” because … why not?
Reporter Ryan Cormier from The News Journal covered the experience from his couch, where he’s nursing a broken leg:
From Billie Eilish's opening night set to Lizzo's closing performance and everything in between, Firefly's livestream was nearly flawless.
Fans were able to watch sets live directly from the Firefly app, delivering an HD feed that even featured a 360-degree second camera you could control yourself for some sets. Spinning the view off the stage and onto the crowd to watch fan reactions was almost as much fun as watching the actual show.
The main Firefly stage was armed with multiple cameras that delivered a polished program. They were even there in the pit when Eilish jumped off the stage and signed the chest of a college student. It was a stand-out festival moment. And instead of being home, stewing in my FOMO, I was transported there and I felt the electricity as she climbed off the stage and up to the rail.
This year, the stream was free. Does that sound expensive? Sure does. Next year? I’d place bets on them live-streaming again, for a price. Is it the same as being there? Nope. But for some, maybe better (this might depend on your personal tolerance for contact highs and daily showers).
What does Firefly get out of all this? The chance to reach entirely new audiences who would never have attended in person. That’s the promise of hybrid done right.
Something We Made: It’s Time, Wilmington
Matt: This 30-second commercial from the “It’s Time Wilmington” campaign popped up in my Facebook memories the other day, and something about it has been stuck in my head ever since. (I don’t post all of our work to my personal Facebook, but I appear very briefly in this one as an extra and I have a mom, so….)
When we made these ads last September, our goal was to inject some positive vibes into what people were grudgingly calling “The New Normal.” A year later, this hits a little different for me. Even more so than when we filmed, this feels like a story of resilience, as we collectively keep going and keep looking out for each other.
And it’s good to be reminded of that from time to time.
The Final Bits
That’s all for this month! We really do enjoy hearing from you, so let us know what’s up by sending us electronic mail messages, to Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org and Matt at email@example.com, or give a call at 302-656-1638. Until next time.
The Short Order Team