In the past, I’ve found that a great way to get my creative juices flowing and spark excitement about a new digital project is to search online for models. It not only helps me get a feel for media conventions, but it also gives me a set of examples to show to clients, so I can get their feedback and better understand their expectations. As part of the pre-production phase of media stories for Micah, I decided to employ this exercise to learn more about homeless shelters and brainstorm potential directions for the videos.
Homeless to Wholeness
Micah has created media stories in the past, which I first discovered on their website. Their most recent video, “Homeless to Wholeness,” posted in 2016, highlights the story of a homeless man they assisted. As an interview-based short film, it was very different from the video montages Micah created for their “Change My Sign” campaign, which revealed the existence and humanity of the homeless in our community. I feel that the most impactful part of “Homeless to Wholeness” was the footage in the hospitality center, where viewers witness the inviting atmosphere of Micah and see all the volunteers interact with and help the homeless. Meghann, the organization’s executive servant-leader, described in our introductory interview that she wanted our media stories to inform the community about Micah and its services, so I think that a good direction for our project is to focus on activities in the organization’s various centers and programs, through the eyes of participants.
Y2Y: For Young People, By Young People
This video appealed to me because it succinctly presented background information about homelessness and the need for adequate homeless shelters, while also highlighting the specific features of the Y2Y organization. I also enjoyed the animated annotations and captions. I feel that it improved the video’s accessibility and emphasized its main points.
Line 22: Homeless Shelter Bus
I think this short film is very intriguing, particularly its use of silence. It shows that you do not need planned dialogue or direct acknowledgement of the camera in order to tell an emotionally impactful story. While achieving a “day in the life” format will likely not be feasible for our media stories due to group availability and privacy issues, we can still consider a similar, unscripted approach to make the videos more authentic and memorable for the audience.
Welcome Centre Shelter for Women: The Face of Homelessness
As a promotional piece, this longer video gives a good example of how to comprehensively cover the ins and outs of an organization, while still keeping the viewer’s attention. I enjoyed how the video allowed interviewees to show their personalities, which helped express the mission and atmosphere of the shelter, appealing to those seeking aid or wishing to donate or volunteer. There was also a clear introduction and a call to action.
A common thread that I noticed in all of these videos is that they capture the viewer’s attention from the get-go, using thought-provoking questions, personal stories or dramatic imagery. They film individuals from multiple angles and superimpose long periods of dialogue with footage of activities and conversations. They enhance aesthetics with visually appealing fonts, animations and logos. Many combine testimonies from both clients and organization representatives, thus giving a nuanced portrayal of the shelter. While the videos I selected follow very different formats, we can borrow elements from all of them to craft effective media stories for Micah.