Redglass Pictures: Working with Brands to Tell Beautiful Stories
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
Redglass Pictures set out to make short films nearly 15 years ago - long before any concepts of branded content, streaming services, or even basic social media existed in the way we understand them today. And yet, somehow, amidst the endless content landscape, they are able to weave film-quality narratives on behalf of major brands and still meet the mark they set for themselves when they first started out: to tell lasting, beautiful stories.
Brand Storytelling caught up with the team at Redglass Pictures to discuss their work with brands, their process, and find out where they think brand-funded filmmaking is headed:
Thanks for taking the time to chat! When you sit down to work with a brand, how do you start? What does the ideation phase look like?
We’d like to just start and say that we appreciate all that Brand Storytelling does and we can’t wait until we can get back to in-person Sundance events (and any live events for that matter). As we have experienced it over the years, brand storytelling success is truly measured by the people who shepherd the brand’s mission. Oftentimes, the people we meet with are passionate about what their brands give to the world and want to tell stories that don’t feel sugar-coated or commercial. So our ideation phase involves a lot of listening. We want to truly understand the brand’s vision and who they want to reach with it. From there, we start developing story ideas that will complement this larger vision.
Do you have to be selective about the brands you work with? Why?
Great question. Yes, we are selective about the brands we work with in a couple of key ways. For one, we don’t work with brands that we really don’t believe in. We are a boutique production company with a comparatively small team. We spend a lot of time nurturing each project and we truly understand that if we don’t believe in the brand, our work will not be up to our standards. Secondly, we are very cautious of projects that have been over-handled before they get to us. For example, we have had prospective clients who have spent months casting interview subjects based on market-research only for us to realize that many of the people don’t actually have the kind of stories the project needs. We can already see that no matter what we do, the end result will be below average. It’s like walking into quicksand!
How involved does the brand stay in the creative process? Is it usually the same amount or does it vary?
Well, if we have done our jobs correctly, we have established enough trust with the brand to have the creative freedom to make something really good. In our case, we tend to work with a client quite a bit in the beginning and then deliver a first cut further down the road. We truly believe that the first thing the brand sees should be a very strong version of the piece and we usually have great editorial experience with clients because of that.
What do you say to brands that have a strong vision for their content but a lack of experience in filmmaking? How do you get them to meet you on your level?
I think sometimes it’s hard for any of us to know what we don’t know. This can be of particular importance when it comes to creating short films. We often have to dig in a little bit with brands to help guide them to find the emotional pull of the project, and to help them step back from attempting to communicate too many prescribed ideas.
What are you working on now?
We have had an amazing relationship with Angela Matusik and HP over the years. We recently finished a documentary series with HP called Dear Future Me about a group of students in Maplewood, New Jersey participating in a local rite of passage. The films were recently featured on The Today Show and The Kelly Clarkson Show. We are also working with PBS on an incredible series about black mental health.
Given the trend toward branded entertainment in the last few years, combined with the events of a tumultuous 2020 that led brands to reevaluate their entire strategy for presenting themselves to the world, where do you think brand-funded filmmaking is headed in the future?
We believe that brands will get bolder and bolder with the kinds of stories and projects they fund. This last year has reminded all of us that we are fundamentally connected, and great stories are here to communicate that truth.
Learn more about Redglass Pictures, their work, and their story on their website, redglasspictures.com
About Jordan Kelley
Jordan Kelley is the Content Director at BrandStorytelling.tv. He's an essayist, editor, and observer intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content. Jordan is a lover of stories and an avid consumer of new media.