You do not have to look very far to see that video is now everywhere. From funny home videos, incredible stunts filmed with GoPro’s, as well as some stunning cinematic footage of people, landscapes and nature.


Years ago, cameras were incredibly expensive and there was no such thing as a ‘low budget’ camera. Filmmakers were not as numerous as they are now because of the high costs that existed back then. Thankfully, (mainly due to the advance of technology) film and video equipment is now available to the masses at a fraction of the cost.

I started filming quite by accident when a friend asked me to produce a promotional film for his business. I was a photographer at the time and like most cameras today, it could take photos and video. To cut a long story short, that was the beginning of a new direction, and I have filmed for business, tourism and weddings. Recently I shot a documentary in India, which was quite an adventure!

Now, just because we have great camera equipment at our disposal as filmmakers, skill is needed to produce something that will not only be informative, but also move the heart of people. This is so important. What is the point of filming something but the viewer is not affected by what they see?

Some time ago, we went to New York for a holiday. What an amazing place! All I took with me during those days were my camera body and a couple of lenses (as well as some real warm clothes because it was winter!). So wherever we went, I travelled very light. I filmed as much as I could, wanting to put together a few short, heartfelt snippets of the Manhattan District.
Take a look:


New York – part one from Robert Commandeur Cinematography on Vimeo.


New York – part two from Robert Commandeur Cinematography on Vimeo.


New York nightlife from Robert Commandeur Cinematography on Vimeo.

If you are an aspiring filmmaker or simply want to be more effective in influencing your audience, read on. Ask yourself this question: ‘what are the elements in a movie that keep me glued to my seat for around 90 minutes?’ You and I are not going to be captivated by anything that is cheesy and boring.
Here are three indispensible requirements for creating great video content:


Do you know that we are storytellers by nature? We all have a story to tell, and everyone has a story. Ask yourself: ‘what am I trying to convey? What is my message? Will the viewer have a clear understanding of what I am trying to say? We are all captivated by a story. If there is no story or compelling reason why we should watch something, we are turned off very quickly. It is getting harder to keep people’s attention these days, because everything is moving so fast. We scroll though our social media feed fast, until something catches our attention, don’t we? Make sure when you film something, people are immediately interested. People want real, people want raw, and people want to connect.
When you film, always look for the story to tell.


When I film, I always have the viewer in mind. I try and walk in their shoes. After all, people connect with people, not with things. For instance, when I film a promotional video for a business client, I always put that client in the video.

Not only do people connect with people, but they feel what others are feeling also. Why do we sometimes cry at a heart wrenching moment in a movie, when it is not even real?
There was a marriage proposal in front of the Rockefeller Tree in New York part 1. It just happened in front of me so I filmed it (I did get the permission of the couple). Does the scene touch your emotions? It probably did, because we are born with an amazing ability to connect with people and feel what people are feeling. When editing a wedding film for instance, I always use the footage of raw, real emotion. If I am moved by it, others will be moved by it. That is how we humans tick. Always put humans and feelings in your film.


Creativity is something that cannot be taught, but something you have (or haven’t) got. Having the best filming equipment is not going to help you here. On the other hand, there are some creative people out there who use the simplest cheapest equipment, but make compelling, moving films. Why is that? It is not the camera, but the filmmaker that sees and captures the scene. The camera is only a tool that is being used. In New York part 2 for instance, I incorporate photography with film.
We can use different angles to describe the same scene. Or have close up, medium and wide shots to add impact. If you are going to use special effects, they should be like salt and pepper. I do think that some filmmakers overdo a lot of stuff like funky transitions from one scene to another. Anything that is overdone, will take away from the impact your film could have. For instance, I really like the sci-fi genre of movies. But when I see some of the latest ‘Avengers’ movies, there is so much computer-generated images it will make your head spin. So much in fact, that it takes away from any story impact (which in my view is weak already – sorry Avenger fans). After all, how many explosions can one watch in one movie? Seriously. Slow motion is another one. It does not make a video any better. Too much of it, and it turns boring real quick.

Now of course, there is much more than these three things that will help us all become better at what we do, but just wanted to share a few pointers that are not always candidly talked about. It can be a challenge to engage with people through the media of film and photography, but with the right approach, very possible.

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