Finding the Story: Q&A with Brand Filmmaker Jared Cruce
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, Brandstorytelling.tv
That’s Not Your Story, the film that follows one woman's cancer journey with non-profit clinic, research, and education organization Mederi Center, was officially honored at the 5th annual Brand Film Awards from PRWeek and Campaign on May 7th, 2020. The film was also honored at the 2020 American Business Awards, where it was winner of the Stevie Award for Best Documentary.
The creative element behind the film is Jared Cruce, filmmaker and founder of Jared Cruce studio. Cruce succeeds in achieving all that is constantly preached about approaching brand-funded film, most notably by putting a very human story at the center that carries the viewer all the way through to the end.
Brand Storytelling caught up with Cruce to discuss his win, how he likes to work with brands, and to learn a little more about Jared Cruce Studio:
Jared, congratulations on the film! How did you come to partner with Mederi? What was the initial ask?
Mederi partnered with us on branded content for a website makeover. Our framework empowers our clients through the process of building their content and I think that was fresh and unique for them.
They then had a need to bring awareness to their new work and fundraising campaigns. They came to us with the initial ask of a video that outlined the Mederi Center, what it did, its history and key players. We proposed a character driven story that shared the heart and heroism of their clients and the work they do.
What was the give and take like as far as creative input and control when making the film?
When it comes to input and control we think about it differently. We are experts in creative storytelling and film production, but we are also experts in story finding and development. So, we bring the client into the process, collaborate and communicate the purpose of the film, the characters, the storyboard; all within an easy to understand framework. When they know we care as much as they do about their business success and understand their purpose, we can go out and execute the technical and creative skills of filmmaking with their trust. That is what we did with Mederi. They gave us creative control when making the film, and we blew them away. We believe story influences the mind by guiding the heart.
What did your relationship with the brand look like during that process?
Relationship and trust building are part of our culture. We came in and learned everything we needed to in order to find and craft their story. During this process we always share our perspective and we showed Mederi how invested we were and how much value we were going to deliver. From our preparation and to communication with their clients and throughout the process I think our relationship went from good to great.
What does it mean to you to see this work acknowledged and awarded?
It means a lot. It means that we’re on the right track and validates just how powerful and valuable storytelling is for a brand in today’s world. We have always stood for story over everything else in our work and always looked for brands that were curious, innovative and believed in themselves. So, getting acknowledged and awarded is always great medicine for continuing to just trust ourselves as experts in this craft. It’s also been rocket fuel for our desire to find, produce and deliver these types of stories at the highest level.
When and how did you begin to use your talents for brand work?
I started our studio with a strong background in marketing and business development so we’ve always been about understanding our clients’ vision, differentiators and their customers. Brand work and commercial work with deep story was there from the get go.
What sets Jared Cruce Studio apart from other brand content studios?
Honestly, we’re on our own path to create remarkable content. I once was told by a valuable mentor that being remarkable is being at the intersection of excellence and unexpected. There is some luck, but it really depends on a well-developed strategy and finding the right partners that resonate with it and trust it.
What do you say to brands that know they want to invest in brand-funded content, but don’t know where to start, how to execute, distribute, etc?
I tell them that doing this type of work in a remarkable way is forever marketing. It changes the way people perceive you. That means your customers, your partners, your employees. Finding and crafting great stories is a skill in of itself. Go find a company who has a process and knows the science behind developing story, because building deep connection is not a template and it is not necessarily about technical prowess. I’m mean we have all seen cinematic work that is an absolute template.
In order to be a storytelling brand, be more passionate, more curious and more excited about your customer’s successes.
From a distribution standpoint, we are in a time where motion film content is oversaturated noise. There are more distribution channels out there than ever before. That’s why creating stories that your customers actually care about is absolutely head turning. Distribution points are popping up all over the place and this is not something that I feel should be an obstacle at all.
More than ever before, media networks, social media, websites, vlogs all want storytelling content. Just the other day, I was working with my colleague in brand partnerships with a major network and he blew me away with the variety of platforms and budgets that can find massive distribution for both long and short form branded content.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
Jared Cruce Studio is excited about the future. There is nothing needed now more than honest, trust building, caring stories! We’re looking forward to working with innovative curious brands that want to make a difference. As we emerge out of some tough times we’re looking to be a catapult that can launch a brand back into the minds of their customers, in a way that is deeper, longer lasting and really feels great!
Watch That's Not Your Story here.
Watch Jared Cruce's other Stevie Award Winner Love The Mission here.
About Jared Cruce
Jared Cruce is a director, cinematography, filmmaker, storyteller, disco dancer, husband and father. He has won national awards for commercial brand films, is founder of Jared Cruce Studio and specializes in branded content for commercial brands through film, media and photography.
Jared began his film career in photography, is a graduate of the Eddie Adams Barnstorm event and spent his early years in documentary and adventure projects including working with the renowned Explorers Club documenting Tibet.
Since moving to motion film in 2010, he and his studio have become obsessed with transformational storytelling and working with commercial clients to create content that makes a difference and changes lives.
Jared lives in Southern Oregon with his wife and two children.
Contact him at Jared@jaredcruce.com