Cutting out good Content Marketing material is OK!


Do you ever get frustrated trying to compress a lot of information into small, digestible bits of content for audience consumption, engagement and retention? You always want to give your audience relevant info that will relate to their needs and pain-points, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with a boat load of facts and figures that will drown them before they even get to enjoy the heart of the message. 

We include video in our content marketing toolbox with the hopes that it will not only compliment our blogs, whitepapers and presentations, but that it will also become the magnet that will attract and retain audiences. The video medium, if executed with enough care, can take relatively mundane information and bring it to life by educating people through entertainment. 

The Bill Gale Animation

Hemmings House was hired a while back to produce a fun animation that would sum up the life of a community leader named Bill Gale. The video would be used at a Roast in his honour, and then released on the web. His biography and resume are a truly impressive collection of honors and accomplishments. When our client asked us to produce the animation, they gave us a six-page document that summarized years and years of Bill’s action-packed life in the finance world. There was far more information in the written document that could be compressed into a 90 second video.  And despite the accomplishments, it is a bit of a challenge to communicate an engaging message based solely on a list of resume highlights. 

Our team discussed the challenge and we came up with an entertaining Monty Python-esque cartoon that would sum up Bills life in a metered 90-second period of time (start the clock!). We used humor, colorful animation, and a very rapid narration to tell this story. 

Don’t be Scared!

Never be afraid of compressing allot information into something with less details. As a filmmaker myself, I was always taught that the greatest film editors knew which of the best scenes to cut and throw on the floor, even if they were the nicest looking shots of the whole production. Sometimes to get to the meat of the message you have to trim the fat, even if the fat is great content. 

When you have more data than you feel you can sift through, don’t let that discourage you. There is always a very simple story that can be told in an entertaining and engaging way, you just need to simplify. People do not consume stories because they are rich in statistics and cerebral concepts. People consume stories because they are simple, entertaining and they can relate to them.

This is also true for any of your content marketing production. Give the audience valuable data that is detailed enough to bring value, but not so deep that you loose them after 10 seconds. Using humor and unique styles in the way you tell your stories is also a great way to keep eyeballs on your content. 

me and Steinbeck






How Improv Creates Meaningful Connections

Saturday night I was invited to create a few techno tunes live with my new Ableton Push as Improvisation Corporation spontaniously created hilarious skits on the spot inspired by the music I created. The improv troup took inspirational cues that went back and forth between my techno and Julia Wright's readings from her kick-ass zine 'Hard Times in the Maritimes' .  

I was amazed at the improv actors' ability to take a random cue and immediately create a scene full of well crafted dialogue that could so easily have been written, but it wasn't! These guys have worked improv acts together for ever, and they have a connection with each other that allows them to anticipate each other's next move and roll with a constantly changing direction. The more they listened and watched each other, the more connected they became.

I think about masters of improvisation in the music world as well. Back in the early days of Hemmings House we would film alot of live sets from bands like Grand Theft Bus, the Slip, Nero and the Jimmy Swift Band. I always marvelled how they could play the same song 100 times in a row over a period of a few years and be sure that its a completely new song everytime it is played… all as a result of finely tuned improvisational skills, that can only be developed by the constant practice of listening, adjusting and building. On stage they wouldn't even have to look at each other to take the music to new places, they would listen to subtle cues from each other, the drummer might double time on the high hat, then the bass player might syncopate the rhythm, and the guitar might play off the bass line up an octave…the improv bands are masters at creating grooves on the spot that just…work. 

So in the daily quest to contribute to a happy and kind world in my personal and business life, I want to always work on and celebrate improv. Connecting with people on a much deeper level by listening, riffing, building and creating spontaniously with as many interactions as I can. 

My question…is it more or less effective (or is it subjective on circumstance) in seeing a vision become reality by constantly improvising and creating on the spot, or to be lazer targeted and planned?

The video link below is a throwback to 2009 when we filmed the Jimmy Swift Band - true masters of improv – in Halifax Nova Scotia for their DVD film. (remember DVDs?)