That revelation, among all the things we have learned during our nine years of running film festivals that empower college students to tell their stories on the big screen, is the one that never ceases to astound us. We loan tools to the students and give them one week's time, and they come back with content that consistently knocks the proverbial socks off both us and our judging panel of industry leaders.
Which leads me to this recommendation for marketers: Why not tap into this talent pool to create authentic content for your brand or organization, especially if your target happens to be young adults? If you give students an idea of what you want, and perhaps some tools to help, they will produce content that will have you joining us in sock-free awe.
Just keep a few keys in mind. We remember how busy and/or flaky we all were as students, so try to work with a network of talent instead of one individual. For brand-related concepts, even better than just tossing open a contest for anyone, we suggest that you recruit a group to participate based on their vision for the project.
You're looking to them because they have an expertise in content they'd want to watch. That said, make sure there is some time set aside to be ready to help. By no means are we suggesting dumping your production teams, but consider taking the budget for one production and stretching it to perhaps dozens of projects with student creators for an exceptional return on investment.
We've seen the model work for our top student filmmakers and leading textbook companies, mobile phone companies, and more that are looking to students to supplement their vast video needs. Here's an example of how effective this can be:
A couple of years ago, we were approached by a foundation to explore creating a category for college students to create short films on domestic poverty. Up until that time, the non-profit had watched professionals create documentaries that struggled to garner attention or enthusiasm. They thought -- and we immediately agreed -- that students should share how they and their communities are trying to fight injustices. Thousands of short movies have been created as a result.
It was a classic win for everyone involved. The foundation generated compelling content as well as publicity for its fine work and the participating schools, all for a fraction of the cost of producing a single traditional documentary. The students were able to put their filmmaking skills to work, with some winning cash grants to further their community efforts. We were able to add a new and important dimension to our events, while enabling the students to share their stories with millions around the world.
Brands should be aware that there is a deep pool of next-generation talent on college campuses who are ready, willing and incredibly able for an opportunity to show you -- and the world -- what they can do. So go ahead and give it a shot. You'll get great press exposure for your brand and, best of all, you'll also get some incredible creative.