College Talent Pool Hungry for Opportunity

There is some absolutely unbelievable filmmaking talent on our nation's college campuses.

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.

4 comments about "College Talent Pool Hungry for Opportunity".
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  1. Dana Salkowsky, July 30, 2010 at 12:22 p.m.

    Great perspective on a talent pool that is all too often overlooked.

  2. Nathan Evans from Location3 Media, July 30, 2010 at 12:40 p.m.

    Hi David,

    Or you could pay an agency or production company with actual marketing experience. I bet you wouldn't have to worry as much about them being "flaky."


  3. Byron Wolt from Speak to Students, July 30, 2010 at 12:47 p.m.

    Great post!!! Good suggestions! Tapping in to college talent is a wonderful way to not only promote yourself and your company, but to develop a relationship with a local school as there will be a new pool of students EVERY YEAR while giving back to the community.

    However, I would also like to add that there is an unbelievable amount of talent in high schools too. If you just want to sell to students, please stay away from schools! However, if you have an opportunity to engage and connect with students in a meaningful way, the benefits of having a presence in school and on campus are GREAT for your company and the students and schools as well.

  4. Mark Burrell from Tongal, July 30, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

    Couldn't agree more David!! Not to mention, with the tools they have at their disposal, the quality we see every day at Tongal is as good as anything out there. In terms of being flaky, it's why we never rely on an individual, we rely on a community; and they produce things fast, in a cost effective manner and give a brand choice and diversity and they NEVER let us down.

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