Field Notes Interview #50: KC Brown, Content Producer for TOMS
When it comes to telling a compelling story with your business, everything always comes back to the "why" behind what you do. As you develop your business brand through film, it's not about what your selling, it's why your selling it. Music can play a large role in creating an emotional atmosphere when conveying your brand's philosophy.
We've had the honor of collaborating with Content Producer, KC Brown and the awesome folks at TOMS on their inspirational films. Their story is simple: Giving. Through unique and creative video campaigns, charity work around the world is present behind every product they sell. TOMS has created something special, helping to shift how businesses can participate in social service -- and it's all be because of their "why."
We got a chance to chat with KC about what makes a good story in branding and how he's cultivated a new face to the business filmmaking world. Let us know what you think by commenting below.
M: Why film? What compelled you to be a filmmaker?
KCB: I got into film when I was a senior in high school. Some friends and I were in a media class and had tons of fun with it just goofing off making stuff to play for the announcements and things like that. I had a great teacher (hey Judi!) who had taught film studies in the past and she in turn got me hooked on Hitchcock movies and from there my love of film really took off. One of my good friends from those days was the second member of the TOMS media team and we got to work together for a couple years when I started at TOMS, which was the best.
M: What's the toughest decision you've had to make as a filmmaker?
KCB: Ha. I think the toughest film-related decision of my life was to actually study film in school. It’s not exactly the most guaranteed scholastic pursuit. In fact, I didn’t even study production or writing or anything remotely related to making films. I studied film theory, surely one of the most impractical fields of study in all of academia. But it suited me quite well and I still like to go back and poke around film history and theory books from time to time.
M: How do you feel music has a role in film?
KCB: Music has an incredibly unique place in filmmaking. I think the word that comes most quickly to mind is “elastic”. It can be anything you need it to be. You need to set the mood immediately in your scene? Music! You need to get an emotional reaction from a particular segment and something’s missing? Music! You need to let the viewer know that this is indeed an 80’s training montage? Music!
We make a lot of mini-docs at TOMS, and a staple of our videos is a strong B-roll montage that features great moments of people we have given to, whether it’s kids getting new shoes or somebody having their sight restored or getting clean water. Music is so vital to those scenes. The right track makes all the difference between something hitting home or totally falling flat.
M: How do you feel music is misused in film?
KCB: I’m not sure I can say that music actually is misused in film. A director chooses what s/he chooses because of their vision for that particular scene or moment. I can choose to not like said scene or moment, but ultimately, because that is what the director decided, then I have to respect that choice. That’s probably the film theory part of me talking though.
M: How do you feel your films for TOMS are different than other films for businesses?
KCB: Our work is different because everything we do centers around giving. At the end of the day, TOMS is in business to help others, so our videos try and reflect that. We want to show our community, people who don’t like us and people who don’t know about us that we are really doing what we say we are doing. We give shoes to kids who need them to go to school or avoid getting soil transmitted diseases or to have a pair of shoes to go play in. We help people to get their sight restored. We give clean drinking water to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it. We help train midwives and give birth kits so that mothers can give birth safely. We actually do this stuff. No, we don’t do it on our own. We work with giving partners who are the real experts in their fields, which allows us to be more responsible and sustainable. I have been in the field a bunch of times, both for filming and just to see what our partners are doing, and it really does change you. Hopefully that comes out in our videos. We want everyone that sees a TOMS video to immediately want to think about ways that they can give. That’s obviously not the traditional recipe for an advertisement.
M: What's the most recent album you've listened to?
KCB: My two year old son is a pretty demanding DJ so I’m on a steady stream of Van Morrison, Hall & Oates, Ray Charles and nursery rhymes at the moment. But that last full album I’ve enjoyed was Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment's Surf. I can’t get enough of "Slip Slide." I need far more Busta Rhymes in my life.
M: How do you know when you're finished with a project?
KCB: You’re never really finished with a project, you just sort of stop working on it because the deadline is here and the bosses have approved it. I’m not sure I’ve ever been satisfied with anything I’ve made.
M: What makes a good story?
KCB: There aren’t enough hours in the day to answer this question, but the shortest possible answer I could give would be that stories are just shared moments between two (or more) engaged parties. If it matters to the storyteller and it matters to the listener then it’s good, regardless of how poorly it’s told.
M: What's coming up on the horizon in your life as an artist?
KCB: My wife just gave birth to our second son, so I suppose my life as an artist will consist primarily of me taking bad baby pics on my phone and showing them to anyone within arm’s reach until they can’t stand it anymore.