Telling Human+Interest Stories: Q&A with Filmmaker Greg Beauchamp
Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling
Some of the best minds in branded content come from the creative side, using the tools and techniques they’ve learned and applying them to telling great brand stories. Greg Beauchamp is a filmmaker first and foremost, but this background leaves him well suited for the work of ideating, developing, and executing on brand funded content with authenticity at its center.
Informed by his experience as an independent filmmaker, Beauchamp founded Bindery, an Emmy Award-winning film and branded content studio. Bindery’s success comes from its script to screen studio model – where creative, production and post come together under one roof. This integrated model has brought big ideas to life for the likes of Apple, Nike, Land Rover, Walmart and Noom. Bindery’s branded work has won recognition at the Webbys, Vimeo, the Brand Film Awards, and has been featured in Adweek, Shots, Campaign US, SHOOT and The Drum, among others. Brand Storytelling caught up with Beauchamp to ask him about his process, his work, and his outlook on the future of brand-funded entertainment:
How did you get your start as a filmmaker?
Have you ever seen the West Wing? It's an incredible show. I went to college to study Political Science because of that show. I moved to D.C. because of that show. I wanted to dedicate my life to public service because of that show. I liked working in D.C. and I still want to help change the world, but what I really learned from the West Wing was that entertainment (even more than politics) has tremendous potential to influence and inspire. So after college, I redirected my focus to telling stories that could have the same power to evoke emotion and elevate interest. I started that journey with a lot of other digital filmmakers at the time – about 15-20 years ago – splitting time between client work and original projects. And not much has changed, honestly....
What first introduced you to the idea of working with brands to tell stories?
Around 2010, New York City became a hub for consumer startups. Founders needed to create longer-form content to tell the story of their unique approach to a business model or a product innovation. That content was really well suited for a filmmaker approach rather than a traditional advertising approach, and I was lucky to get to work with some incredible entrepreneurs to bring those stories to life and help launch their companies. That was really the insight for me to start Bindery – how do I take what I know about making films from script to screen and use that studio approach to create content for brands.
Elaborate on your script to screen studio model? What does that look like and where do brands fit in?
The power of the studio model is that you can be both robust and flexible. From a purely organizational standpoint, we have full-time teams across creative, production, and post production. We own cameras and equipment, we have edit suites and finishing capabilities. So everything as it relates to making is under one roof.
And we’re built this way to be great "Partners in the Making." Every brand team we work with has different capabilities and every project is unique. Some of our brand partners want us to develop the strategic brief with them, crack the campaign or content idea, and then execute across production and post as one seamless effort. Other brands might need us to do just one specific thing. So the studio model allows us to take the friction out of the making and focus on the thing we do best – which is telling stories at the intersection of Human+Interest.
What makes for a great human interest piece?
Human stories make us feel – they give context, they evoke an emotion, they inspire thought or action. For our original projects, we predominantly seek out character-driven stories rather than plot driven ones. Our film Zion is a good example of what we believe makes a great human interest piece. It has to be multi-dimensional. At one point in the film Zion says, “I’m not gonna lie, I was a bad kid.” So despite his super-human story, he’s at once both relatable and inspirational. That’s really the key – understanding that humans are many things at once.
What are some examples of brand work that Bindery has turned out that exemplifies your approach?
We worked on the launch of the Land Rover Defender and created a content series with The Atlantic that sent John Mayer out to explore the national parks. When you put those elements together, the instinct is to produce a super cinematic, atmospheric, and music driven series. But we spent time in development to align the attitude and tone of Mayer (the human) with that of the new Defender. And that's what informed our approach. What resulted was a series that was a little more fun, a little against the grain, and felt fresh in the category – all things that we hoped audiences would attribute to the relaunch of the iconic Defender. And it seemed to have worked. The series was awarded the 2021 People's Voice Webby and the Defender rose to #1 top of mind for premium and rugged SUVs. Land Rover ended up selling more than double the number of Defenders since the last time it was sold in the US.
What do you do to get brands to think differently about their approach to content? What about agencies?
The pitfalls we see with content are when brands try to concept around feature/benefit. The truth is that we don't want to watch content or advertising about a brand, we want to watch human stories that align with shared values. We've built a strategic framework called Human+Interest that helps brands dig deeper and unlock those stories.
What is your outlook on the future of brand filmmaking?
We know that consumers are gravitating toward brands that stand for something more than commerce, and that trend is even more important to Millennial and Gen Z audiences. Brands have to connect on that deeper level and tell stories that create a stronger emotional connection. Is there another medium as universal, as scalable, and as effective as film?
About Greg Beauchamp
In 2012, Greg founded NYC-based Bindery, an award-winning film and branded content studio with the mission to tell stories at the intersection of Human+Interest.
Through Bindery Films, Greg develops and produces original content. Greg's work on the documentary, “Out North,” for client Fiverr was honored at last year’s Brand Film Awards and was recently selected as one of Vimeo’s Staff Picks Best Branded Films of the Year. Bindery's most recent film PLUS ONE won the Audience Award at Tribeca and was acquired by Hulu. Its documentary ZION premiered at Sundance and was acquired by Netflix. ZION went on to win two Emmy Awards and was one of 10 films to be shortlisted for the Academy Award. Bindery's upcoming slate includes the series EUREKA! which premiered at Tribeca.
A native Texan, Greg lives in New York City with his wife and four kids.