We’re all about good video storytelling here at Informatics, and what better subject than one of the oldest and most active philanthropic clubs in the Cedar Rapids community?
We were approached last year by The Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids—known by many as Downtown Rotary—with an idea to do a new multimedia history series that could do double duty as a recruitment tool.
Downtown Rotary has been meeting for over 100 years and counts some of the city’s top leaders among its membership, but even it hasn’t been immune from the effects of the COVID pandemic, which has strained membership rolls at clubs and nonprofit groups of all sizes.
The club also wanted to capture the history and insights of its most veteran members, several of which passed away suddenly in 2021.
We were charged with creating a glossy, long-form history of our club that could be shared with new and prospective members, as well as those seeking more information about Rotary in Cedar Rapids, as the first installment in the club’s new history initiative.
Collaborative research & storytelling
We began our process by engaging with the club’s History Group, who had a number of important insights and suggestions to offer up. We also spoke with other veteran club members to get their specific insights on what to focus on with this messaging.
From there, we began work on a storyboard for the video, which is a common video production tool used to visualize the story. A good storyboard includes as many details and specifics as possible, including:
- the type and style of shot (close up, wide shot, etc.)
- the subjects in frame
- the scene’s length
- any short dialog or scripting
That storyboard was routed through a smaller group of influential members a few times, until all of their questions had been answered and input considered. It’s a collaborative process we embrace, and that ultimately makes for the best product possible.
Once the storyboard was finalized, we got to work researching and creating specific content, from scripting our video voiceover to combing through historic Rotary and Cedar Rapids photography. We also attended multiple Rotary meetings and service events to gather new footage of members in action—a big focus for the club.
A big piece of our mini-doc involves personal testimonials from current club members. We arranged video interviews with five members selected by the club’s leadership and brought them into our video production studio for a series of sit-down interviews.
They spoke about what it means to be a member of the club, the good works the club does in the community and how it advances their business networks.
When it comes to documentary interviewing, we always follow a few steps when it comes to getting the best from our subjects:
- Do your research. Know who you’re talking to and what they’ve done in their jobs, the community, etc. It will make the conversation flow easier.
- Keep them relaxed. Make sure your set is comfortable and welcoming. Roll the video camera and then start with some small talk to get them conversing and warmed up for the meat of the interview.
- Don’t be afraid to lead. When you’re telling a brand or marketing story through interviews, sometimes you need them to say a specific thing. Ask your subject to repeat your question at the beginning of their response to set the stage.
- Keep the camera rolling. Don’t cut right away—let the camera and conversation linger a bit, to capture more candid thoughts and responses.
Consider having your interviews transcribed afterwards, to give you a paper guide to work from when it comes time to edit all of your videos down. It sure beats having to sit through all of your interviews again in the editing bay (even a comfy one like ours).
The Rotary video reveal
Once we put the video through our editing and polishing process, we were set to show case it for the club. We attended a meeting just before the holidays in December to show it to the members in attendance; the video has also been posted to their website and on YouTube, where club members continue to remark on its impact.
We’ll be doing a shorter cut of this video, specifically geared toward recruitment and social media, along with a new podcast series aimed at reliving some of the biggest stories and accomplishments from the club’s history—stay tuned for more on those.
Watch our completed Downtown Rotary Mini-Doc below, and reach out to us with your company's video vision—no matter the scope, our Media Production team is ready to bring it to life.