Darlene Liebman is a production executive with over 20 years in the business. From film to television to technology, she knows how productions get put together.
Over the years she saw how marketers and advertisers required more and more help creating affordable and effective brand videos. She also recognized how agencies were having a difficult time with the increased requests to produce videos with smaller budgets. It was during her time at Viacom that she first began noticing the need for a database of truly talented, experienced filmmakers.
With her unique understanding of the creative process honed from working on both sides of production, Darlene launched Creative Humans as a simple but effective way to locate the right filmmaker for any project, no matter the style, budget or location.
Brand Storytelling caught up with Darlene to learn more about the Creative Humans model, the importance of finding the right creative support, and what's in store for the future of brand-funded content:
When did you start Creative Humans and why?
We started Creative Humans in 2017. While working at Nickelodeon I found myself as the go-to for friends in the business searching for recommendations when they needed quality freelancers and teams who could deliver really good branded content. It became apparent to me that there was a clear need in the creative media industry for a platform that would help companies find professional video creation companies and freelancers.
Sure, there were platforms already out there, places like Mandy and Creative Circle etc., but we realized that what was lacking was a site to find curated talent and freelancers who have already been vetted and have an established track record.
While you could try and make a Google Search, the results would bring up expensive agencies, who typically aren’t interested in projects with a budget under 300K, or you would basically find a random person with a video camera and van who you really knew nothing about. Even looking for cinematographers on Vimeo wasn’t easy; you would either get zero search results or 300,000, neither of which was helpful. I knew there was a real need that wasn’t being met, and so the idea for Creative Humans was born.
Why do you think it's important to pay special attention to the process of a brand connecting with creatives?
Finding the right filmmaker to work with is a lot like finding love. All of your wants, needs, budgets, and locations have to match up.
We act as a sort of professional matchmaker; we listen to the clients’ needs and introduce them to the video creatives who are best suited for the project, and that could be an entire team via a production company, or individual freelancers.
We have a unique understanding of the creative process and know the importance of storytelling, honed from working on both sides of production for more than 20 years. We also recognized that each creator focuses on a different type of filmmaking. So, if you want a comedic spot we aren’t going to point you in the direction of docu-series filmmakers.
Lots of companies claim to connect brands with creatives. What sets Creative Humans apart?
This is where our vetting process comes into play and sets us apart. We do the legwork for our clients and work hard to build and maintain those relationships, to make sure we really understand what their specific needs are.
We are laser focused only on video and we are highly selective with the people and teams we accept on the platform. This helps guarantee you need less time to further vet your candidates and ensures confidence that we are only sending your the most capable people to review.
We look for creatives who are seasoned professionals with the ability to work independently. The days of the supervised edit are fading quickly and we know that brands want to work with reliable talent who can collaborate, take direction and help execute a project to completion. Of course this isn’t to say our clients aren’t involved in the creative production, but it does mean that they can be confident that the creatives on the platform know how to get the job done with expertise and originality, without hand-holding.
Given your business, you must believe that brands can and should tell stories. Why?
Absolutely, everyone loves a good story and no one wants to get the hard sell. Good storytelling should never be underestimated -- really good brand storytelling is what builds empathy and a connection with customers, and smart brands understand this.
Stories are the most effective way for brands to share their message -- how can a product or service make your life better? Telling that story with creativity and imagination can get consumers to understand a brand vision. Stories are how we instantly relate to a brand and their mission.
Storytelling is the end-game at Creative Humans. In order to tell good stories brands need to connect with established talent, and that’s what we do.
What do you predict is the next big thing in brand-funded content?
What I’m seeing is more and more are brands taking production in-house, walking away from expensive agencies, and owning their own messaging. At the same time they’re wanting to find inspiration from filmmakers and creatives with other points of view and different perspectives to help create innovative brand messaging.
I also see the virtual-work trend continuing and growing. I predict that there will be more freelancers working remotely, often on projects requiring even faster turnaround times. I definitely expect to see brand integration continue….between Netflix, Hulu, and the dozens of other streaming platforms popping up, we’re going to see brands creating entire shows, specifically for their brands, taking brand storytelling to the next level. With smaller screens the norm, the opportunities are growing for brands to take a bigger piece of the content pie, so to speak. For example, recently I was reading about how BMW has been talking to Netflix about producing a whole series… what a powerful brand marketing strategy to be able to have that creativity to tell the story of their brand in a really expanded way.
We’re excited at Creative Humans with the direction that brand-funded content and storytelling is going in. Having an easy-to-navigate platform where global brands can connect with truly talented, award-winning creators is how we help clients execute their vision. It’s all about finding the best people for a job so that we don’t just meet a client’s expectations, but exceed them.
About Darlene Liebman
Founder of Creative Humans Darlene Liebman has worked with a multitude of brands from Pfizer, HP, Staples, U.S. Air Force, McCann Health, U.S. Department of Defense, JetBlue, Edelman, Procter & Gamble, Pantene, Tiffany & Co. and many more.
In 2010, she was named by Fast Company as one of the most influential women in technology. As an entrepreneur, she has an extensive background in online media and is the co-founder of Howcast.com, the instructional video website that currently boasts over 8 million YouTube subscribers with more than 4 billion views.
Whether you need an entire production team or just a freelancer to help bolster your in-house team, Darlene and Creative Humans can help you get the job done. Darlene is passionate about producing and is a master of relationships and helping teams succeed: “It’s all about finding the best people for a job so that we don’t just meet a client’s expectations, but exceed them.”