TRS 003: Derek Dienner CEO of Make Films
Great video content is no longer optional for your business; it’s vital to any marketing strategy for both B2B and B2C organizations. CEO and Creative Director of Make Films Derek Dienner provides marketers and business leaders insider tips on how to build the right branded video content for your authentic voice, explores how the industry is changing, and shares how being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer altered his business goals.
Following a successful career in wedding and product videos, Derek and his company are turning to the new frontier of licensing content. With so many stories to share and a captivating medium by which to share them, Make Films is expanding the idea of branded content and creating pieces that people truly care about.
Marcus: Hello, marketers and business leaders. I’m Marcus Grimm, and welcome to The Revenue Stream, the podcast from Web Talent Marketing. Here we discuss everything you need to know to build brands, generate leads, and convert sales from some of the brightest minds in marketing.
Marcus: Hey, marketers and business leader. Well, if you’re not interested in learning about video, then I don’t even understand why you’re in marketing today. Let’s face it, all of our campaigns these days, no matter how you slice it, everybody’s talking about video. Video is bigger and bolder than ever. And for those of us at Web Talent Marketing, it means many of our campaigns have a video component or a call to action via video. But at the end of the day, all video is not the same, which is why today we are talking to our good friend Derek Dienner of Make Films. Like many would be entrepreneur videographers, Derek cut his teeth shooting weddings nearly 15 years ago. Five years ago, he officially opened up Make Films as the corporate side of his business. Now today, he’s got a full team of, I believe, eight people and he keeps several more freelancers busy with work. So Derek as the very first question I’ve got to ask you is what’s harder, a corporate video or shooting a wedding?
Derek: That’s a great question. Thanks for having me, first of all. So I think, I dunno, I think the relationship component is interesting with weddings because it’s, you know, the biggest day of their life, and you have one moment to capture that shot, and you can’t ask them to go down the aisle again. So I’d say that’s harder in terms of just you can’t do multiple takes and all those types of things. I think the, the pressure of, you know, commercial video is different because, you know, you’re really hoping that you’re catching people’s eye and that you have this ROI that really works in that the client can really use it in a campaign that’s successful and things like that. So different pressures, different ways of communicating. But I think at the end of the day, you know, you’re telling stories. So if you can figure out how to do it in one medium or one story, you can do the other.
Marcus: Talk to me about, when did you decide that the way you want to tell stories was video? I’m picturing you as as a 10 year old boy with a camera in his hand. Is that the way it was?
Derek: That’s exactly right. Yeah. I think, my dad had one of those shoulder video cameras, and I was even younger playing around with that. And that eventually… I kind of broke that at 10. Then I got a camera like a still, you know, like a still camera, and then did some video with still with my dad’s- got that to work again. I was playing around. I was never one of those like filmmakers that you know was setting up movies and writing scripts for movies and things. It was more about, to me, just like capturing the moment because I was so fascinated with the idea that like now is only now and it, it’s never again. You know? And the idea of, with video, you can capture what now is and then watch it later and enjoy. I’m super nostalgic and super sentimental. I think that was a lot of the reasons why I kind of was drawn to video.
Marcus: Right. Video lets you capture those things.
Derek: Exactly. Yeah.
Marcus: Did you major in video a college? Where’d you go to school?
Derek: Actually I went to like a kind of more a missions program Bible school that spent a year in Cape Town, South Africa and was playing with a video there. And I was learning about how to tell some stories with the nonprofit that I was working with and started an orphanage and was capturing those moments. And it was just a way to practice and kind of get to know myself better and learn basically a school of hard knocks the whole way through. I didn’t have a formal film education but did a lot of freelancing, a lot of shadowing, a lot of learning from great filmmakers along the way- great commercial filmmakers- and different people along the way.
Marcus: And that’s actually, and I’m already getting ahead of myself as we often do here, but it seems to me, that that’s kind of part of the Derek Dienner show in terms of being a mentor. It seems like whenever I do a video shoot with you, there’s always some really sharp young talent that you’re there to help out. Is that your way of trying to pay it forward, or is it just cheap labor?
Derek: Yeah, well, I think I’ve learned so much from previous generations, and I think the same thing in video that you can teach people along the way. There’s some people that shadow us or some people that interned with us and there’s other people that are new in the industry that work with us. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle for me. But I really believe in mentorship. I really believe in apprenticeship and learning from other people. And I’m continuing to do that myself. I never stop learning with every person I meet, you know?
Marcus: So tell me about when you finally decide to set up shop. Did you open it doing weddings at first or did you open it up as “Derek Dienner does everything?” Tell me how your various brands came to be.
Derek: It started out with the Derek Dienner show in a way like this is me as a freelancer, this is what I do. And I realized really quickly that I have a lot of deficiencies, and I realized very quickly that this industry is very much reliant on teams and people around you. So I knew that there’s no way that I’m going to be able to do what I want to do in terms of the kind of things I wanted to show or tell just by myself. And I realized that very quickly. So in the beginning, again, it was just me. And then-
Marcus: Any gig you could get, whether it was a wedding…
Derek: Yeah, freelance/ whatever was it was in the beginning, and then it started to grow where my brother then started doing some editing on the side. He was on like 15, and he started just editing some stuff that I wasn’t able to do because of the things that I was doing. And then he just started growing up in the company. As I was learning, he was learning. I taught him how to edit, but he’s learned a lot. He’s gone a lot further than I ever have with editing and taught himself and learned from other people too. So, that just kind of snowballed. And then it was the two of us and then, you know, three of us, four of us. Now there’s eight of us. And I slowly started to realize that weddings isn’t something that I want to do anymore. I mean, it was a great start and I had met tons of people and learned a ton, but I just realized that I want to really tell stories that are different. I mean the weddings have a very similar theme of course the whole way through. So I wanted to be able to tell some of those stories. I want to tell some of the marketing messages that my clients want to tell. And you know, that was really how we evolve to where we’re at now.
Marcus: And correct me if I’m wrong, but the wedding business still exists.
Derek: Yeah. So the wedding business still exists. My brother Aaron runs that now. So, you know, it’s a very small, like 5-10 weddings a year, but he still does that and it’s going very well. But I’m not really part of it as much anymore. So that’s been just in the last couple of years that we’ve transitioned that.
Marcus: Well, and the reason I asked the question, I think that it seems like you’ve been very intentional about your marketing. And what I mean by that is, I’ve hired you for various corporate jobs over the years, but when I go to your studio, I don’t see stills of weddings. I don’t see anything there that makes me feel like I’m going to a wedding shop to do a corporate video. So I get the feeling that from a branding standpoint, from a positioning standpoint, you’ve been pretty intentional about saying no Make Films doesn’t do weddings even though Aaron has been an outstanding editor on my corporate jobs. Can you talk about, you know, is it as good as I’m saying, or is it blurrier than it might look to me?
Derek: No, it’s very clear. I mean, I started off with Lavonne Films, which is my middle name, and that was all the kind of “event side” of what we do. And that’s, you know, doing 40 weddings a year for a few years, definitely. And then transitioned five years ago to Lavonne is all weddings and events, and then because we were doing some corporate and commercial kind of work within that, separated it completely from the Make Film side, corporate, and really just stripped away anything that was wedding at the studio. I was just was like, “I’m all in on commercial work.” I’ve established a great market in the wedding world, but I think that moving forward and the growth of our company is going to be around the commercial corporate work. So it was very intentional and I mean, it took a few years of transition for the kind of the business to change. But yeah, it was an intentional thing.
Marcus: So that’s my last wedding question, but it’s interesting to me because, even on the corporate side, we can be talking about: handheld iPhone work, we can be talking about full-length documentaries. So talk about some of the different approaches you’ve done in terms of what tools you’ve used, how long it’s been- just give us some idea of the breadth of the agency.
Derek: Yeah. So, you know, we’re not about a one-size-fits-all solution to anything. I think the idea is that every story has a kind of a need that has a budget, has constraints too. So what are those constraints telling us, and what are those constraints? How do they dictate what the project is going to be or what kind of cameras are we going to use? How many actors versus real people from the business are we’re going to use? So our approach is really about understanding constraints. But then when we ideate and we come up with creative ideas, we don’t necessarily always limit ourselves to the constraints. We try to think differently about each project, and then the idea is, “Okay, how can we be creative about making this awesome idea into a way that is feasible for the story and for the client?”
Derek: So at the end of the day, the culmination of great ideas, the culmination of stories and ways to execute together to create one awesome idea or story wins, we think. And so whether that means you’re crowd sourcing from the company. We’re getting a ton of iPhone selfie videos or you’re going in with a crew of 20 shooting in 6K on red cameras or you’re shooting in HD. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily, to me the gear doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, the story wins. If you have a good story, the other stuff will kind of take care of itself. I think.
Marcus: Now, that’s a really strong point. The question would be, does story always win, or have have viewers changed, in particular over the past couple of years? We’ve seen more and more video on the internet. I hear people say things like, “Oh, your video’s got to be short today,” or I hear people say things like, “Oh, you know what, iPhones are fine. People are viewing it on a small screen. So equipment doesn’t matter.” Are viewers changing?
Derek: I think that the answer is yes, they are changing. But I think the other answer is that a good storytelling will always win. I still believe that, and I still think that, if you’re focusing on the length always or if you’re focusing on the kind of cameras that using always and things like that, then you’re kind of missing the boat. You’re missing the messaging. I think that you can do an awesome ten second video that could have the potential to reach a lot of eyeballs and sharing and engagement and you could do a ten minute piece that would do the same thing. If you look at the videos that have gone viral in 2018, I wish I would have that list in front of me right now. But some of the interesting things that like people are intrigued by like the Chewbacca mask that the mom had. I think it was like a couple minute video or something, or maybe it was 60 seconds- I don’t know how long it was.
Derek: But the idea is that people for some reason were just intrigued by this story of this woman trying this on, and just she made herself laugh. And I think we’re all human. We want to laugh; we want to kind of feel that moment. And if you can connect with human emotions- And so many times us as marketers, we think like the collective group is dominant, individuals are smart, and we have these weird generalizations that people aren’t human or that they don’t feel things. And it’s like, okay, well you’re putting out this messaging as a blanket statement, and what does it mean to people? What is it? How is it impacting people?
Derek: And if you’re asking those questions, and if we’re asking the questions for your content, “How can I be authentic and how can I reach my audience in an authentic way?” I think you’re going to win more times than you don’t. Now of course, shorter is better today. You know, you don’t want to be doing a lot of long-form content unless there’s an audience for that, unless your audience responds well to that. And do testing; A/B test stuff. I think that like it is getting shorter; it definitely is. But at the end of the day, if you’re just focused on length and not the content-
Marcus: You’re not looking at the right question.
Marcus: You know, it’s interesting, we have the same exact conversations in marketing automation. People talk about marketing automation platforms and the different tools that are out there, and we don’t spend nearly enough time talking about the content itself and the quality of the story. We often like to say, “I don’t care how good that funnel is that you built. If it’s garbage that’s inside of it, nothing’s coming out of it.” I’m curious how your customers, not the viewers, have changed in the past few years, if at all?
Derek: Oh yeah. So I think our customers have certainly changed. First of all, the landscape of people wanting video has changed. There’s a lot of people that are first time “video adapters” or whatever. Their companies that are like, “We want to do video now. We want to do video.” That has changed. More and more people want to do it. And then when we start talking about it, the process and the pricing and all that, it can sometimes scare people. But at the end of the day, if they trust us and they really kind of connect to what we’re doing, we have a lot of great happy customers that are really excited about what video has done for them. It’s changed in the fact that we are working with bigger brands now that think more like we do in terms of- they’re results oriented but they’re very brand focused on how is this one piece of our puzzle going to help solve our problems?
Derek: Probably a couple of years ago we were dealing with more clients that said, “Hey, this video is going to be our savior. You know, this is going to do it all. This one piece of content is going to do everything!” And I think today-
Marcus: No pressure!
Derek: Right, no pressure! And also just unrealistic expectations. Let’s be real. So that to me has changed where you have- we’re part of a bigger conversation with our clients where, “How does this piece of content interact with everything else you’re doing, and how can it further spread, we call it ‘magic fairy dust,’ on your campaign?” You know, like it can just make things better and throw gasoline on the fire in terms it just engaging better. We’re fortunate to deal with clients that really care about their brand and their customers.
Derek: And I think, for us, that’s the biggest thing. I don’t know if you want to say like a plumb line of work that we go by in terms of like taking on new business; that if we have a client that’s passionate about what they do and they want to tell an authentic story and they want to do it the right way, that that’s like the baseline. Like, yes, we can work together! And that’s refreshing to us, to work with people that care and that really want to do the best. It’s not about like trying to shove things down people’s throats that don’t want it. You know, it’s about connecting with the people that want to buy from you and telling that story authentically.
Marcus: Whenever I talk to you, Derek, what always comes across, not just from you but from your entire team, is the intentionality that you have for Make Films and also the passion that you have for what you do. Here’s the problem: how do I put that in an RFP? And what I mean by that question is, if you were to advise somebody on here’s how you should buy video, how in the world- what are the steps that a client should go through to choose a video partner? Because it’s tough to put passion in an RFP.
Derek: No, you’re right. I think as much face to face as you could have without just sending a document over, first of all, for an RFP. RFPs is an antiquated model of doing business, I think.
Marcus: Do you respond to them?
Derek: We do, but not all the time. I think that- I don’t want to get into this whole thing about like changing the way that we do that, but I don’t think that’s the best way to do business… I personally don’t. I think that relationship and trust and growth and all those things are part of the business relationship, not just putting on a piece of paper of “Here’s my proposition to you, and here’s how much it’s going to cost.”
Derek: But in any case, we have to do RFPs sometimes, and we respond with trying to ask as many questions as we can when we’re preparing RFPs and really getting into the idea. We really want to know like the intention of this video usage and not just here’s one plus one equals two, and here’s how it’s going to work, and blah, blah, blah. Because that’s the age old question. It’s always, how much is it going to cost? Well, like, what do you want to do?
Marcus: Right, right.
Derek: Are we flying all over the world and filming in every country, or are we filming in a studio it with one actor or with people from- like the cost is so determined on the concept. So it’s such a challenge sometimes for us. And maybe challenge is too strong, but it’s such something that we think about a lot.
Derek: How can we get better at communicating the intangible things that we feel lead to better content? And so some of those things are the intentionality, are the planning and fixing it and in preproduction, not just fixing it in post, some of those things that we do. So that’s just some of the language that we always say throughout the way, and The Make experience kind of speaks for itself. Like just the whole interaction from the beginning to the end with us is something that we feel that, if somebody can give us a try, then they won’t have any other experience and any other kind of output with any other company.
Marcus: So I’ve partnered with you on a handful of projects, and one of the things that I recall is, about a year ago- this question’s related to the planning itself- we were working on a project and you came into the room and you said, “You know what, I want to be a bit more buttoned up on the planning on this.” I don’t know if you recall this conversation. And you went through some standard questions. And I’m just curious if you remember, first off, has the agency continued doing that? Is that your goal to perhaps have other people on your team do that process without you? Was it successful? I guess what I’m really getting at is, how does it work to put structure on a project that inevitably does not want to be structured?
Derek: Yeah. Well I mean you can have the age-old debate about structure versus creativity and what produces better work: creativity without structure or creativity with some type of structure. And I think like everybody that’s come in to Make over the last three years has brought some sense of a balance of that. Allen Clements who joined us two and a half years ago has brought a sense of this is how we’re going to have conversations all the time and here’s the baseline of these conversations. This is how we talk about structure. And I’ve always believed that anything that’s not creative, there are ways of systematizing things and there are ways of creating a structure but without suffocating creative. So obviously people have to know where to go, when they have to- actors have to know like this is when this happens and this is when this happens. There are timelines and there are schedules and there’s things like that. How can all those things kind of be structured as much as possible but then leaving room for all of us to think creatively and think, “How can we do this better?” Even in the room for the actual shoot day… how can we not have every single thing scheduled back to back to back? Can we leave a little bit of extra room if we want to do multiple takes? And maybe we’re inspired by something on set that like, “Oh jeez, we should do that differently. I think that’s pretty neat. Maybe this will work.”
Derek: I think it’s always an adjustment process, and we talk about it all the time in terms of how much are we planning and how much are we reacting. If you have a great baseline of thought and a great baseline strategy, then the reactions are very thoughtful and the actions are very strategic. And I think that’s what I’ve always admired about you. I feel like your approach is very thoughtful, and thoughtful marketing is really interesting to me because I think that there are a lot of times that balance between just getting it done fast and the thoughtfulness and the strategy. And I think you have to have a little bit of both, you know? But I think that we as a company would definitely be more on the thoughtful side and on the planning side. And you know, there’s other companies that are not as much about that. They’re more about the speed and all that. And that’s okay. We all have different strengths.
Marcus: So that actually relates back to what we were talking about before. If I was a brand, if I’m going to hire a video company, I should kind of be able to look in the mirror first and say, “You know, what are we all about? What are we going to respond to?”
Derek: Exactly. Yeah. “What do we want, and how do we respond well?” Do we want things planned well or are we going to just show up with a camera? And that’s not us.
Marcus: Are you personally a fan of the medium? And what I meant by that was, if I asked you to name a campaign or two that you saw and you said, “Wow, I really wish Make would have done that work,” do any stand out to you over the past year or so?
Derek: Yeah, there’s been a couple of interesting ones. Wistia did one where they actually showed the same project, and it was executed with like $1,000 budget and then a $10,000 budget and then a six figure budget. They showed you the difference in approach. Like the one was shot on an iPhone, the other was shot on a C100, and then the other one was shot on ALEXA. And it was just the difference in quality. You could see it, but they all told the story very well. It the story could maybe suffer a little bit on the $1,000 one, but at the same time, they did it cleverly and they did it well through each way. And you could really see the difference. It was a great educational tool, and I’m actually at the point where I would love to have all of our clients see it, and I’d love everybody just to see it because it’s really interesting.
Marcus: I would think that would play very, very well for you! Maybe you should do one like that yourself.
Derek: I know maybe, or just send that to the clients. It’s such an interesting world out there in terms of like, there are so many people doing what we’re doing. There’s so much work out there too. It’s not like the competition is a concern or anything. I think it furthers us as filmmakers when there’s more people doing good work.
Marcus: So let’s pivot a little bit and talk about content marketing. We’ve got the book out from Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi called Killing Marketing, and essentially it’s not at all about “killing marketing” but what it is about is killing marketing as a firm- meaning the Make Films of this world. “You know, it’s great that Derek Dienner does that, but you know what? If I care about video, I should bring it in house, and I should build my own studio and I should do this.” Now, clearly we’re not talking about this for every brand, but my question for you is: have you been impacted? Have you had some of your larger clients bring video in house? And I’m curious if you’re seeing it and if you have any opinion on the idea of bringing more of that content work in house.
Derek: We’ve seen it here and there with some agency work that we’ve done, but I don’t necessarily think of it… Our clients like to hire people that are very specific to a certain need. So they’re going to hire a film company to tell a story, but then they’ll hire an SEO company or they’ll hire an agency that has a specific kind of strength in that area. I don’t know if historically, or in the future, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. But I’m not sure if the future is a one-stop-shop. I don’t think that’s the future. I think the future is these niches that are very- I mean, the future, even of the workforce; some 50% of people are going to be freelancing in the next five years.
Derek: So that’s just another whole conversation, but I think it always carries over into this conversation because yes, we felt with certain types of jobs that “Hey, you know what, the smaller jobs, they’re going to go in house because they have some capabilities in house, and that’s great. But we’ll call you guys for the larger types of jobs.” That is a good fit. That’s a little more strategic, a little more planning, a little more campaign focused. And you know, that’s fine for us because that’s what we’re going to anyway! So I think that yes, there’s a school of thought that agencies in marketing, they’re trying to figure out more billable time, to be honest. Right now they’re trying to find other ways to add billable time, and it’s one of the ways that they can do it. But, the work, I think, will suffer. I think that you’re going to cut corners because you’re going to try to do it in an efficient way- not that we don’t do things in efficient way, but I think that you’re going to just try to execute and get it done and at the speed of light, and it’s not going to go good.
Marcus: And I think one of the things that we talk about it at Web Talent Marketing is we’ve got this very large and successful pay per click department. But some of the reason that I think our team knocks it out of the park is because they’re working on a wide variety of brands. And I’m a huge fan of stealing things that work in one industry and moving it over to another one. So actually a friend of mine is now one of the guys running the studio at Campbell Soup. They’re bringing all their videos in house, and after a while, if you think about the early part of this podcast, we talked about creativity and passion. If you’re only doing soup work all day, it’s hard to imagine that that doesn’t get tampered a little.
Derek: Yeah. I certainly think that there’s still room for- I mean the video world is like very collaborative and if you look at any films that are made, there’s multiple companies that are attached to those things. So I think that like the example of Campbell Soup, I think there’s still potential for them to interact with other companies, but then there’s certain things that they know every year, like we’re going to do the “Tasty” videos or types of things. Not “Tasty” videos, but whatever kind of videos we’re going to do for Campbell Soup that we can do in house now that we don’t have to hire someone else, but we’re going to do the big campaigns with X, Y, Z.
Marcus: Creative agencies often, no bones about it, often stink at doing their own marketing. One of the things that I know you and your team really made a decision, I get the feeling that it was in the past two years, that you said, “You know what, we’re going to do a much better job of using video to market ourselves.” Can you talk to me about the genesis of that and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis?
Derek: Definitely. So it was one of those things that I know us as a company, we all think that if we’re telling everybody to use video and to tell your story with video and to be authentic and to communicate your brand messaging and just like get to the core of who you are to communicate with video, and then we put out a blog post that’s just text and maybe a picture. What are we doing? You know, what are we doing? So I think early on I was trying to do that and I never really had the kind of the bandwidth to do it personally and the bandwidth with our team until we brought on someone that really fully focused on that for our brand. It kind of was an evolution to where she kind of started off in a different role. Lisbet Byler started with us as more of a studio manager and working just on our internal kind of messaging with us and just making sure that, as a small company, everybody knows what’s going on.
Derek: And then it kind of grew to like her starting to take over our social media and then really just taking ownership over the Make brand. And we are constantly having conversations about who we are and how we’re communicating that. And she just does an excellent job of constantly kind of putting out there who we are because I think who we are really is: we’re eight filmmakers who understand that we’re telling stories for living. We get to do like this amazing thing that’s so much fun and don’t really take ourselves too seriously. We’re very self aware about the business that we’re in. There’s a lot of like people in our industry that have more ego or take themselves so seriously, and we’re like, why? Let’s just kind of get to who we are. So she does an amazing job as well as all of our team. We’re all bought into it. So we’re doing behind the scenes stuff all the time. It’s just part of it, you know?
Marcus: And you guys do a great job if anyone wants to see how it out to market themselves-
Derek: Thank you for that.
Marcus: You’re one of the best. Let’s pivot now a little bit, we started talking about wedding videos and then we talked into corporate videos. And I know that you at Make, you’re looking at doing some different things in the next year or two: this idea of licensing content. Tell us a little bit about where your head is with it and how some of your early projects have gone.
Derek: Yeah. So that’s, that’s a great question. I think what we want to do at Make is- We have a passion, a lot of the people that are at the company have a lot of stories they want to tell as well. You know, we have a lot of great, passionate clients that have stories they want to tell for their brands, but we have a lot of things that we want to tell and we know a lot of writers and storytellers that want to tell stories too. So it was one of those things that, I guess around a year ago or so, I was like, “You know what? I want to tell the stories that I want to tell. To add; I want to teach through this or just like impact the world. Is there a dent that we can create as a company, as a small eight person company, in this world with the content we’re creating?”
Marcus: It almost sounds like you were joking at the very beginning that you were a kid, but you weren’t looking to tell stories when you were a kid with a camera. It just looks like it took a few decades to catch up.
Derek: Yeah. Yeah, well that’s true. I think that’s a good point because I think I’ve always been entrepreneurial and I’ve always been, like I said, nostalgic and big with that type of thing. And I think it’s kind of all culminating together. Last year I was diagnosed with cancer, too, which changed my life. And that was another thing that I was like, “You know what? I have a journey to share with people, and maybe it’s interesting to people, maybe it’s not, but I shared a documentary of my life, we call it The Day I Became Alive. And the idea again is that life throws you curve balls a lot, and those are things that build you-
Marcus: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever asked you this question. It’s a riveting documentary. It’s a great movie. As you were going through the cancer, did you at any point say to yourself, “You know what? I just might not do this.” Was there any stage where you’re like, this is a bad idea, or were you committed to filming it but not necessarily editing it, or were you all chips in all chips in from the moment you started?
Derek: It was definitely the last: all chips in. And from the moment it was like, if I gave up on that, I was giving up on my life. That’s how much I believed in it.
Derek: And it was just as much healing for me personally as I think it could be for people that are going through something hard. And the revelations that I had along the way, to put them in a video, to put them in a short film was healing for me. So I never thought about it. There were certain days when I don’t want to shoot today, I don’t want to film today, and I don’t feel like it, but all the time I was like, Yeah, this is happening. There’s no question this is happening.”
Marcus: So that was a huge original piece…
Derek: That was a huge original piece. But I think there’s other stories that we’re working on in development. So basically we are transitioning to like a development company as well. So we’re developing content that we have written in house. Some of it is outside writers, that we’re partnering with other people. The idea for me is that because video to me and creating content is so precious and amazing that, I think that we want to make sure that we’re taking the time with what we do and produce great things. So many times with client timelines and restraints and things you’re producing content quickly like I talked about, and that’s not a bad thing, but some of the content we want to create is just a little more care. How can we tell these stories and docustories or narrative stories? How does that licensing process work? And getting it out there to the world and getting people to view it on social media or you know, of course, the online distribution model not just being, that you have to make a pilot and put it on NBC or ABC. Things have changed so much. So there’s so many other people that want to buy content. We’re in a content boom. So why not create content that we care about? Not only for our clients, but that we care about too that we can put out there.
Marcus: So I’m curious as the CEO, the guy who keeps the lights on, the guy who writes the paychecks, this licensing piece is way different. It’s not billable work by the hour. You might not see a penny of it. How are you structuring the business right now? Are you doing the Google model that 10% of our hours this week go to go toward this licensing content, or do you figure it out on a weekly basis how you’re structuring it?
Derek: Yep, it’s not necessarily a formula, but it is more around like the idea that 10-20% of our time is spent on that. It’s interesting because like some of the early things that I did personally and we did as a company, has been the best marketing that we’ve ever done. I did a short film called Dawn that meant a lot to me. That’s actually a little bit prophetic about what I went through later, and we did it with our team and a couple outside freelancers, too. And people who were impacted by that short two minute film led to people hiring us to do commercial work for them. So what ends up happening, I think is that, well, hey, you know what, we’re investing in and growing and learning because it’s a profession that you never stop learning. You never stop figuring out how to tell better stories. And the art of it and the technique of it. And then the other side is that, everything that we produce that we put out, is marketing for us too.
Marcus: So that’s how you justify it on a bad day.
Derek: Exactly. That’s how I sleep at night, you know? No, but I believe in it so much that I’m willing to go all in, you know? You have to go all in. If you, if you don’t go all in on anything, then you never know what the potential could be. So as a kid I was never really great in school. And I always thought to myself, if I would just go all in, I’d probably be pretty good! And I never did it. I just never really loved school. So now to me as an adult and having a career, it’s the opposite. I’m going 100% or 150%. And even I talked to the team after I was diagnosed with cancer, I was like, “You know what, the training wheels are off now.” I mean, I’d say 30’s is young, like I’m 33, I still feel young, right?
Marcus: Right, yeah.
Derek: Tell me I’m young! I’m kidding. But yeah, life’s not guaranteed for any of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 80. Live today and do what you need to do at 150%, because you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. So that’s how I feel about our original content. That’s how I feel about our client content- all of our content really. This is the day that we have to tell this. And again, I’m obsessed with the now, like for every single person in the world, now is now. We might call it a different time in Australia than what is now, but it’s still the same now.
Marcus: And Make Films exist to capture the now.
Derek: Exactly. Yeah.
Marcus: That’s really what you guys do. All right, well that sound means we’ve very nearly wrapped up our time with Derek Dienner from Make Films. Derek, before we go to one of my favorite parts of the show, although I’ve enjoyed this entire interview, thank you very much for joining us today on The Revenue Stream with Web Talent Marketing. Really appreciate it. The website is makefilms.cc, correct?
Derek: Right. Yeah.
Marcus: Outstanding. So we’ll take a look at all your corporate videos- all of the really neat things that you’re doing. And honestly, I can’t say this enough, if you are a marketer, you would be very, very wise to see how Derek and the team market themselves over at Make Films. They do a great job. So, Derek, it is time for the Marketing Minute. Are you ready?
Derek: I think so.
Marcus: Okay. In no particular order. You Ready?
Marcus: Apple or Android.
Derek: Apple? So that the first question? I’m scared.
Marcus: Ad blocker or no?
Derek: Yeah, ad blocker. Sorry…
Marcus: I’m enjoying this one. Email or text?
Marcus: Facebook or LinkedIn.
Derek: See that’s switching for me. It’s LinkedIn now. It used to be Facebook more, but it’s LinkedIn now.
Marcus: Yeah. Is it because you’re happier with LinkedIn or you’re just less happy with Facebook?
Derek: Less happy with Facebook. That’s the bottom line.
Marcus: Oh, this is a good one for you. Snapchat or Instagram?
Marcus: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Don Draper.
Derek: Oh man. Steve Jobs. Elon Musk though is probably going to be doing- like in a hundred years, people are going to be talking about Elon Musk more than Steve Jobs. So maybe Elon Musk, I don’t know.
Marcus: Timex, smartwatch, or bare wrist.
Derek: You know what, bare wrist probably 80% of the time for me, but I do like a smartwatch. But I always feel like I’m a jerk looking at my text messages. Then people are like, “Do you need to leave?” “No, I’m just a jerk.”
Marcus: And I cannot think of a better last question for a video guy. Cable-holic or cord cutter?
Derek: Jeez. So I’m a sports guy so I still have cable, but it’s a complicated. It’s a complicated relationship. Let’s just say that. So until live sports do a better job streaming, I’m going to be on cable. Because streaming, I’ve missed a couple of big plays in my life that have paused, and I’m like, “What’s happening!?” It’s a real thing. But until that gets fixed, I am going to continue to have cable. But every other year I do try it, but it doesn’t. Yeah.
Marcus: It continues to sound like Derek Dienner will always be in search of the perfect moment. Derek, thank you very much for joining us today. I’m Marcus Grimm, and you’ve been listening to The Revenue Stream with Web Talent Marketing.