In This Episode

Erik and Mark talk about the appropriate length for promos, how to not let a lack of assets limit your creativity and why it's more important that videos communicate a feeling, rather than show exactly what's on stage.

 

See All Episodes

When Apple released their 1984 commercial, it changed the way everybody thought about making commercials. They're not selling a computer. They're revolutionizing the way we live. That's how I want people to think about arts commercials. We're not selling actors standing on a stage. We're changing the experience that they have in their lives.

ABOUT MARK

Mark Ciglar knows how to use video to sell theatrical performances. Formerly an actor and a commercial director, Mark is now the President of Cinevative, an LA-based video production company that uses visual effects technology to create promotional videos for arts organizations.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Erik Gensler: Thank you so much for being here.

Mark Ciglar: Thanks for having me.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. We're in a world where video is clearly incredibly important to digital success and could talk through all the statistics and there are many. Have you seen a big increase in demand for video from arts organizations in recent years?

Mark Ciglar: Quite a bit. Quite a bit People are putting new video out all the time because they wanna keep up their end of the conversation. They're not just putting one idea out and letting it sit there. So it, it requires a lot more content than we needed even five years ago. Are we talking to, people that are already bought into the organization? Are there people who are already invested? Or are we trying to attract somebody who's brand-new, who doesn't know what the organization is about or even what the art form is about sometimes? So, I think, you know, being really strategic with what those kinds of videos are is really important, and not just trying to put one thing out for everybody.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. So you're pushing your, your clients to really think about first, who is the audience? And framing the videos around that.

Mark Ciglar: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: What is your background? I don't think I ever talked about this. (laughs)

Mark Ciglar: Originally I was a performer and then I was a theater director. and I did that for quite some time. And, around the same time I started to direct commercials. And really enjoyed that. And there was a lot of visual effects design to the commercials that I was directing. And I saw that a lot of my theater clients, as a director, couldn't run commercials because they had nothing to shoot when they really needed them. At the beginning of a season, when they needed a video, shows weren't cast, sets weren't built. They had nothing to do. And so I thought, well, we've got all of this visual effects technology. Why can't we just apply some of that to the arts? And so I floated the idea to some of them, and it kind of took off, enough to where I started in, in 2001. And by about 2005, it sort of, you know, really caught on and, and people understood what, what the solutions were.

Erik Gensler: You're based in L.A., and your clients are all over the country. And then you talked about, in some of the technology you're using. So I'm just curious how you work with, say, a client that's not local.

Erik Gensler: Thank you so much for being here.

Mark Ciglar: Thanks for having me.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. We're in a world where video is clearly incredibly important to digital success and could talk through all the statistics and there are many. Have you seen a big increase in demand for video from arts organizations in recent years?

Mark Ciglar: Quite a bit. Quite a bit People are putting new video out all the time because they wanna keep up their end of the conversation. They're not just putting one idea out and letting it sit there. So it, it requires a lot more content than we needed even five years ago. Are we talking to, people that are already bought into the organization? Are there people who are already invested? Or are we trying to attract somebody who's brand-new, who doesn't know what the organization is about or even what the art form is about sometimes? So, I think, you know, being really strategic with what those kinds of videos are is really important, and not just trying to put one thing out for everybody.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. So you're pushing your, your clients to really think about first, who is the audience? And framing the videos around that.

Mark Ciglar: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: What is your background? I don't think I ever talked about this. (laughs)

Mark Ciglar: Originally I was a performer and then I was a theater director. and I did that for quite some time. And, around the same time I started to direct commercials. And really enjoyed that. And there was a lot of visual effects design to the commercials that I was directing. And I saw that a lot of my theater clients, as a director, couldn't run commercials because they had nothing to shoot when they really needed them. At the beginning of a season, when they needed a video, shows weren't cast, sets weren't built. They had nothing to do. And so I thought, well, we've got all of this visual effects technology. Why can't we just apply some of that to the arts? And so I floated the idea to some of them, and it kind of took off, enough to where I started in, in 2001. And by about 2005, it sort of, you know, really caught on and, and people understood what, what the solutions were.

Erik Gensler: You're based in L.A., and your clients are all over the country. And then you talked about, in some of the technology you're using. So I'm just curious how you work with, say, a client that's not local.

Mark Ciglar: It's interesting. It matters very little where they are. So much of what we do really comes down to conceptualizing. You know, really comes down to really making sure that we get the right idea down. there are two sides of production. There's the live-action production side of it and there's the post-production side of it. The live-action side, we found, can be done just about anywhere because, as we were saying, so often we need to create something before the season is up. So at many times these shows aren't even cast yet. So, in Los Angeles, we can cast essentially what would be a stand-in-

Erik Gensler: Mmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... cast for them and shoot out there. often times we'll go to the client, for the day of, of shooting. But if we do, it's, it really doesn't require much more than a day, and everything else can be done online.

Erik Gensler: Wow. So you're talking about the, the challenge that we hear quite a bit, which is, "I have this show, but I have no assets." When a client says that to you, how do you respond?

Mark Ciglar: Well, I think that the most important is to, is to look beyond the assets, look beyond what we have or don't have to work with, becauseI think the biggest mistake that people make going into it is to look at what they have to work with first before they've-

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Mark Ciglar: ... really come up with their objective. And I think the reason that's a mistake is that when you find something to work with, you use it. If you have photographs, you use them. If you have video, you use it, regardless of whether or not that really is the best tool for that objective.

Erik Gensler: Right. Or if it's good or interesting or, right-

Mark Ciglar: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: ...Right.

Mark Ciglar: Exactly. So I like to put all of that aside during the concepting process, and really just look at who's the audience, what we want them to feel, and how can we get them to feel that to such a degree that it requires them to act on that feeling?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: And then we go and look at the assets.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Often times we won't have assets to, to create that feeling, in which case we have to make them. but technology today is such that we can create just about anything.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: And so if you can create an image that will move someone, all that really is required is that you find a way of creating that image. And that part is usually the easiest.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. Do you get pushback from organizations that don't feel comfortable using the actors that aren't gonna be in the show?

Mark Ciglar: Yes, often. And I think that's, I think that's a valid point. I think in, in some situations, I think in some situations it is important, particularly if you have, local performers who are recognizable to your audience.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: If there's value there for, you know, I mean if those, if those actors are really a commodity for you-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... then you wanna be able to use those people.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: They don't necessarily have to be the actors that are moving in the spot, however. You can create a spot with essentially stand-in actors, and that can mean that often times you don't actually see the faces of the performers that are in the spot.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: But then you can put up photographs or images of the talent that you want to display. So there's still a way of sort of-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... sneaking them in.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Without necessarily stepping on any toes.

Erik Gensler: I'm seeing a lot more organizations use animation, which I always thought is a real great way to, you know, fill in sort of this asset challenge.

Mark Ciglar: Yeah, it can be. It can be. I mean, I think, you know, again going back to that idea of if what we're really selling is a feeling-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... however we can communicate that feeling-

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Mark Ciglar: ...is a valid approach, and if we can do that through animation, it takes all the onus off of needing those live people there.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: And I think there's a fine line because, you do still need to make it clear that this is a live stage performance-

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: ... a live stage production. And I think if you can do those simultaneously, then I think you're okay.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So talk to me a little bit about this, this green screen technology and motion graphics. How does that work and, and what are, some of the advantages or cool ways that you've used it for organizations and arts?

Mark Ciglar: Well, green screen is, is something that we've been using since the beginning. And for those that aren't familiar with the technology, it simply means, shooting performers in a green environment, because in post-production you can select that green and then remove it from the picture without removing the, the person. And it allows you to put them in any background that you want. and, you know, it's something that is being used in everything from, you know, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and Star Wars all the way down to your local weather person who stands in front of a map. so there's, there's varying levels of, of quality in that and varying levels of, of what you can do. you literally can create anything. If we look at promos that really work, we look at other industries that create promos-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... that really work, you know when I started, the thing that I was most interested in was, why are film trailers so successful? Why are television promos so successful? Everybody's had a situation where they've seen a film trailer and the trailer just looks amazing, and then you go see the movie and it's like, nyah, you know-

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: ... it's okay.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: You know? that almost never happens with theater promos. Very seldom do people see a promo for theater and think, that looks incredible, and then they go to the live experience, and they think it looks flat.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: You know? And I was really curious as to why that was. Why is one form of communication so successful in one medium and not the other? And can we reverse that? and so I started to look at what makes those trailers so successful, and one of the things that makes as successful as they are is, is there's a clarity of objective, because they don't spend their time worrying about the assets. They have all the assets. They've got-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... the movie there that they can pull from.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: So they really spend their time focusing on, "Okay, how do we differentiate ourselves from every other trailer that's running in that cycle? how do we define a clear objective?" and then everything goes into that. And that's, that's where I think arts marketers can really go with video, being really specific with who is that audience member? What do they find valuable? And, and how can we package that content? and this brings us back to green screen and why green screen is valuable. The reason being that, what an audience finds valuable is seldom what's happening on stage. We so often think about trying to communicate visually what's happening on stage. We don't care so much about actors standing there or costumes or sets. we care about, how do we feel? What is the, what is the experience? Because that's where our value lies. and when you look at an image of actors standing on a stage, everything is in our, our imaginations fill in the rest.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: That's where the real magic happens. And in a video, you need to somehow paint what is missing. You need to somehow illustrate that imagination.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: And that's where green screen can come in, because-

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Mark Ciglar: ... you can essentially paint in what we're imagining.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: You know-

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: ... around them.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. Have you done much work in terms of creating videos that talk about the experience? I'm seeing a lot more of these experience videos. Or you didn't, success and social media campaigns where some of our clients are starting to, like for, I think it was for a Nutcracker, doing a campaign around the faces of the children when they're experience the theater for the first time, or experiencing this production. I think a lot of museums are showcasing the experience of what it's like to be with the muse which is being with friends and having this social experience. And we're hearing more research, like Culture Track, that LaPlaca Cohen just released around the value of cultural experiences being very much for a lot of people about the shared experience of, with who they're going with. Have you been able to infuse any of that in the videos that you're working on?

Mark Ciglar: Absolutely. I mean, that, that's where I see, particularly season videos headed. where what we're saying is no matter what program you happen to be going to that night, you're always promised a particular experience-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... based on our organization. and I think when it's done at its best, it really illustrates a cause and effect, not just what the experience is, but how does that experience come about? What are we doing as an organization that is creating that experience for the viewer? And then if you can visually create that, we can, we can feel it.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: Without watching somebody else experience it, where actually as a viewer of the video start to experience it.

Erik Gensler: Right. Right. So with the increased demand for video, particularly around social media, Facebook is definitely, primarily a video experience now. Sometimes you open your news feed and all you're served are videos and Instagram too is, is becoming a really powerful video platform, and of course YouTube is a video platform. So, I think it's fundamentally required organizations to think differently about how they're budgeting. Have you seen a real difference in, in how organizations are budgeting, and do you have any advice of how organizations should be thinking about that?

Mark Ciglar: Organizations need to be really strategic with how they budget for video, because it can be a real, it could suck a lot of budget-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... you know? Videos is not always cheap to make. And, I think being very strategic as to where you're putting your dollars, the example that I like to give is this idea of having an onstage voice and an off-stage voice.

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Mark Ciglar: In the same way that theaters have a, you know, a front-of-house in it and a back-of-house. If you are doing backstage tours for people, you don't need to, dress up your backstage area in any special way. You don't need to spend money on that because that's not what people care about. They care about the special access that they're being granted.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: There's an experience there that is, that makes the aesthetic, is sort of irrelevant in that sense. But in your front-of-house experience, that's completely different. As soon as people walk into the lobby, that already starts the experience of how they perceive the show that they're about to see. So that does need to have a level of quality put to it. And I think video is the same way. If you were doing backstage video or you're doing interviews, you're doing these much more sort of intimate conversational pieces. Big budgets on those is kind of wasted money.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Because people don't really care so much. They care about the access. They care about the backstage secrets. They care about whatever the content is. But the minute you're showing video that's supposed to be representative of the quality of work that's happening on stage-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... that's where you need to put the money.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Because people will, when people see a video that is representative of the quality of their work, they're going to assume that the work on stage is no better than the quality of the video that they're watching. it is tricky. You have to, you have to create a fine line there, but if you put everything, if you try to put all of your budget across the board into all of those videos, your whole common denominator goes down. You know, you really need to just be very particular about, about which videos are, are representing the quality of your work.

Erik Gensler: Right. One thing we talk about with, with our clients here is investing. If you're gonna invest a lot of money, investing in evergreen videos. And it's easier for some, some art forms or, you know, like the ballet company video that is just the, a powerhouse super high-quality cinematic experience of the company that doesn't necessarily have to represent one work, but could represent the experience the example that we've been using for a very long time is that Boston Ballet video. that's the, the music "I Believe I Can Fly." Like that is-

Mark Ciglar: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: ... sort of timeless. They can use it every year. It celebrates the athleticism of the dancers and it's not tied to a specific work. and then, you know, if you gonna stick to the ballet company example, New York City Ballet shoots these, last night at the ballet videos where it's just from the, the, the wings of the theater that aren't heavily produced. They're pretty raw. They're just put up that, that evening. So you feels like you're there, which is to the point of, of your point of, of these less formal videos. So, finding ways to feed that need for video but do it in a way that you're putting your money in there right, the right places.

Mark Ciglar: Right. Right. I mean, I think you always need to ask yourself, who is this video for?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: If you're, if you're making the decision to create an evergreen video, I think you wanna be specific about what is that video accomplishing? Not just, "Well, we want a video that will last us a long time so that we don't have to spend more money next year."

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Mark Ciglar: it should be, "We have a specific audience base, or a group of people who is not familiar with our product. And those are the people that we specifically want to address."

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: I think as long as you're really addressing that, then it makes a lot of sense. So for example, the off-stage video that you were, you were talking about. You know, that's going to be much more of interest to people who already have some investment in the organization.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: People who already have maybe experienced the onstage performance, who now have a little bit more investment because they've been able to see behind the curtain. that's probably going to have very little interest for people who don't already know what the product is. So, you know, really knowing who you're talking to is, is the most important thing, and then deciding, okay, is it going to be an evergreen video? Is it going to be something that we do daily?

Erik Gensler: So in the, the, your business, where people are, are coming to you to spend money on videos, do you find that most of that investment is spent on individual production video, in season video, and, and not so much on the, tonight at the theater, the sort of backstage kind of videos?

Mark Ciglar: I see most people doing those backstage videos in-house.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Which makes a lot of sense for a few reasons. One is, it's the most economical thing to do, but you, you have day-to-day access to those people. So if you, if you've got an in-house video department or you have an intern that's doing your video or whatever, they're nearby. You can grab them. You can, you know, be pretty nimble with, with how you produce those. the other pieces that are representative of the work onstage is where, it becomes a little trickier. I think it's important to get some kind of outside eye on, you know, how you're distilling that message down.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: And then also the technical ability to, to make that come to life.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. Definitely. Seeing a lot of, organizations investing in in-house videographers. Have you seen an increase in that as well?

Mark Ciglar: Yeah, quite a bit. Quite a bit. And I think it's a really good thing, if you have the capability, if you have somebody who's ingrained in your organization, who understands the organization who can work quickly because they're there.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: That's really important, because you do wanna be able to put those things out all the time.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. Definitely. I often get asked at conferences, this is a definitely, definitely an FAQ-

Mark Ciglar: (laughs)

Erik Gensler: ... how long should my videos be? And I'm sure you get asked the same thing, so what's your answer to that?

Mark Ciglar: So my answer to that is, much shorter than you would think. There's a great, there's a great quote it's from the political world. It may have been like James Carville or someone that, that said, "If you say two things, you say nothing." And I think that that's really true-

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Mark Ciglar: ... for a video. If you try to say more than one thing, you lose your audience. If you have one clear thought, and you say that as quickly and as succinctly as you possibly can you accomplish the most. You have the greatest impact. Get them to the call to action as quickly as you possibly can. Too often I hear, marketers say, "Well, if it runs too long, if they've seen enough, they'll just turn it off." And I think that's a huge mistake, because if somebody turns it off because they've seen enough, the last thing they're thinking is, I've seen enough.

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Mark Ciglar: Which is not something you want your viewer to ever think.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Because their next response is not "I'm gonna go buy a ticket."

Erik Gensler: (laughs) So where else do you see arts organizations get held up or stuck when it comes to video?

Mark Ciglar: They really lean into their weaknesses sometimes, where "we don't have enough budget. We don't have enough assets. We don't have enough to work with." and I really think if you can put those ideas aside until you come up with your concept, you'll find that you've got so much more to work with than you think.

Erik Gensler: Definitely. So talk to me about, how you turn an idea for a video into reality and the, just the process brainstorming to storyboarding to shooting and post-production. What does, what does the arc of, of that look like?

Mark Ciglar: We typically start with asking who the audience is, what effect do we wanna have on that audience? What do we want them to feel? And what do we want their next action to be after they have that feeling? Once we understand that, we can start to think sequentially. What are the sequence of events that would lead someone to feel that?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: From there, we storyboard that out. So we create a series of images that are all, focused around an event. So it, we don't think of sequences as a series of shots or as a series of images. You know, this is where, this is where we see something, this is where we see something else. It should be, this is where something happens. This is a sequence where an event happens. Even if it's just an animated word, what's happening with that word?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: What, what are we revealing? What surprise is there?, we put those sequences together, and then if you can storyboard them out, just sketch them out, even with stick figures, you can kind of run through, in your mind, is this sequence of images giving me the feeling that I expect someone else to have? From there you can sort of figure out, all right, now how do I actually make those images come to life?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: But again, that tends to be the easiest part of it. It's getting, it's getting that sequence of events on paper, in the computer, so that you can look at it and really objectively say, "Does this make me feel what I want them to feel? Is this, does this make me feel what the performance is promising?"

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Every performance is promising something. You're promising some kind of experience, some kind of feeling. Does that sequence do that same thing?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. Are you getting the directors involved in trying to help you articulate that feeling?

Mark Ciglar: Very often we are. Now sometimes the director hasn't even been placed yet. So it's sometimes, you know, we get a series-

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Mark Ciglar: ... of titles and they haven't even figured out who's directing. But very often we do have a production team in place. and that can be very helpful, because, very often, they'll have a concept for the show that's really unique, that's really captivating, and that really plays into how do we distinguish this offering from something else that's out there?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: And very often that becomes the very thing that we're that we're basing the whole spot on.

Erik Gensler: Right. As promos and video have moved from the television to the screen, to a mobile device that is very personal, have you changed the way you've thought the types, or the, how your videos are, how your promos are constructed for, a smaller screen that's really kinda one-on-one versus a larger screen that's in a, in a different environment?

Mark Ciglar: Yes, definitely. one is that, we have to make sure that pieces play visually without the audio because often times it requires an action for them to click to play the audio. So we need to make sure that it's really, it really stands alone on a visual sense. from a practical standpoint, how shots are composed need to be much more present. We work in much more close-ups in mediums, even just from a graphic standpoint.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: A lot of the subtlety of these wide, expansive shots get a little lost in a smaller format we look at everything in the size that it'll be produced. I mean, that's really key. When you're doing your post-production, if it's not going to be played on a big screen, don't look at it on a big screen.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: Put it in the size box that it's going to end up in and that's where you should be working on it.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. What types of question should arts organizations ask of their video production partner? Or internal video producer?

Mark Ciglar: They should be asking for, for impact, result. How do I create a, a, some kind of emotional change in my audience? If you can put the onus on the video producer, creating that impact rather than just the technical side of it-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ...I think you will push them to, to give you more.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: Often times marketers will see their video producer more in a technical standpoint of, what kind of camera should we be using? How should we light this? I think that misses the point.

Erik Gensler: Mmm.

Mark Ciglar: I think we really want to get to, If you've come to me with a concept, convince me that this concept is actually going to work. Convince me that this will have an impact. And that convincing may be, "Here's a storyboard. Look at it. Does this make you feel that way?"

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: If it doesn't-

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: ... then you'll know it's not going to affect somebody else.

Erik Gensler: Getting the most out of your producer really, really does mean requiring them to use the skills that they've developed through trial and error over-

Mark Ciglar: ... years, you know? they've been doing this a lot and it's all they do.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: And so, so getting them to, to stretch in that sense-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... is really important.

Erik Gensler: What are some of the qualities of organizations that get the best work from working with you? How do they, how do they come about these questions? How do they treat you?, what does that relationship look like?

Mark Ciglar: So, the ones that I think are the most successful relationships are the ones where we talk as much about the audience as we do about the production team. We don't just focus on the show. We focus on the impact.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: There's the old marketing adage of focusing on benefits, not features.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: I think it comes down to that. The show is the feature. The audience feeling something is the benefit. And as long as we keep talking about that, we never lose sight of that, even when we get into the details of, "Well, the director really wants to make sure that we show this particular costume." Okay, that's great, but let's also-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... address the needs of the audience.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. What about in the relationship with you? what are some of the, the, just the, in terms of, you know, the people listening to this, this podcast are arts marketers, and they're managing a lot of relationships. And what, what can be learned from how to get the, the best results?

Mark Ciglar: Don't be afraid to ask for proof. Don't, if, you know, if, if I come to a client with an idea, when, when they ask me, "Well, why is that gonna work? why are you coming to me with this idea?", I think it accomplishes a couple things. One is, it really forces me to be prepared with an answer-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... so that I know that I'm really coming to you with something that I think is going to be effective. And not just because I think it's a nice idea. But I think it paves the way for how the rest of this spot is produced. And we don't lose sight of the real goal.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. So they're pushing you.

Mark Ciglar: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: To be better.

Mark Ciglar: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: I wanna talk about, blog post that you wrote on our blog, probably, I think it was in the late summer, and you said if, if you wanna go even further and really take advantage of what video does better than print, you need to start with an objective. And I think that, that perhaps ties to what you're talking about earlier, which is the one point of the video. Is that what you meant?

Mark Ciglar: Yes. And I think also really understanding the distinction between print and video. I think people generally assume that video is a more effective communication tool than print. I think it's sorta widely assumed. But I don't think we always understand why that is. It's not just because it's video. It's not just a print ad that's moving on screen. I think understanding that the approach that we take to developing a print ad is very different than the approach that we take to video. Studies have shown that when people see print ads, they perceive it as being information.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: But when they see a video they perceive it as being entertainment. And so if what you've done in the video doesn't fulfill that perception, then they feel that the video has failed.

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Mark Ciglar: So for example, if you want to communicate that a performance is funny, in a print ad you can say, "Hilariously funny, says the New York Times." And you've communicated that it's funny, and you've proven it by showing the attribute of the New York Times. But in video, you can't just say that something is funny. You have to actually make the audience laugh.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: Or they'll assume that it's not true. And that's a very tall order. That's a much more difficult thing to do than just telling somebody something. But that's the very thing that makes video so much more successful. Because the proof actually is inherent in the fact that you've just gotten the audience to do the very thing that you're promising them.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Mark Ciglar: That's why it's so valuable.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Mark Ciglar: And if you're not taking advantage of that, you're not really taking advantage of what video can do.

Erik Gensler: It's show rather than tell.

Mark Ciglar: Yes.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. So I'd to turn to you and, and some of the things that you've learned around, you know, being a, a business owner and working in the space and, and your personal growth and development. Where do you look for inspiration?

Mark Ciglar: I look everywhere I certainly look at commercial work outside of the arts. I'm really interested in, in commercials that are successful at moving an audience. You know, why is it that we can look at a Hallmark commercial and cry?

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Mark Ciglar: In 30 seconds. I find that fascinating. Sometimes the best movies work so hard to get an emotional response in two hours. And people are able to do that in 30 seconds, when you look at the Hallmark commercial, you look at the, the beer commercial with the Clydesdales and, you know, it's so moving and it's so sweet, and you feel so invested. I've noticed about so many of those commercials, it's a one that they all have in common, is that you never actually see the product.

Erik Gensler: Mmm.

Mark Ciglar: They've understood that what they're selling is not the product. Hallmark isn't selling a piece of card stock with ink on it. You know, they're selling a human connection.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: They're selling love. Apple, when they did their 1984 commercial that was just so epic and, you know, it sorta changed the way everybody thought about making commercials, they're not selling a computer. They're revolutionizing the way we live. That's how I want people to think about arts commercials. We're not selling actors standing on a stage. We're changing the way people live. You know, we're changing the experience that they have in their lives. and that can be done. You know, we see it in, in much more mundane products than the ones we're offering.

Erik Gensler: Right. Right. We're really lucky to be starting with the products that we have. We're not selling car insurance, right? We're-

Mark Ciglar: Absolutely.

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Mark Ciglar: Absolutely.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. What's something you've learned in the last year or so that's been profound in how you work or think?

Mark Ciglar: The thing that I'm always learning is that even though there's one core idea to a commercial, it still has to, it still has to be clear what the product is. That's always the line that we ride. We're selling a feeling, we're selling an emotion. But for those who are uninitiated to theater-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: ... do they really get physically what it is? Do they understand what it is that they're buying into? that's a challenge. that's not always easy to really make it clear, this is not a movie. This is not an interactive experience. This is not a video game. This is, this is a piece of theater without necessarily seeing a piece of theater. And so that's where my greatest challenge is right now, is being able to, to find the sweet spot between those two ideas.

Erik Gensler: Do you have any examples that you wanna talk about that you feel have achieved that, have achieved the communicating a feeling the one objective, I'm sure every, every new project is an opportunity to try that again, but are there any in the top of your head that, that you think, wow, we, we, we really did something great here?

Mark Ciglar: There was a spot that we did last year for Denver Center, for their production of Frankenstein. And they were so clear about what was unique about the production. And they, they approached it from a standpoint of, this was, the, the doctor and the monster were two sides of the same person. It was almost like a Jekyll and Hyde kind of a feeling, to the point where the same, the, the actors would switch roles-

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Mark Ciglar: ... every night. And that the tension and the terror that came about in this production was, was that pull between these two. And, we ended up creating a spot where it was almost like a chase scene, but we mirrored the chase between the two characters, where one was traveling through the castle, the other was traveling through the woods. But all of their movements mirrored each other. and we cut back and forth. We created a lot of tension with that. And then there's a little reveal surprise at the end that, that gave us a sense of fear. it created the feeling that we wanted it to create, but within that world. In a really effective way.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. Well, people will have to check that one out.

Mark Ciglar: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: It's hard to describe-

Mark Ciglar: It's hard to describe if, yeah-

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Mark Ciglar: ... yeah, yeah I know.

Erik Gensler: What is something you think you're really good at, and what is one thing you're working on to improve?

Mark Ciglar: I think the thing that I'm best at is, is synthesizing down this larger experience into something that's very succinct. The thing to improve on it goes back to that thing that I was talking about before, which is, how do you do that in a way that still is illustrative of what the actual product is?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm.

Mark Ciglar: You know, and it's not just about the feeling, but it is, it is placing somebody somewhere.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm. So, this is the, the last question and this is your CI to Eye moment, and the question is, if you can broadcast to the Executive Director's leadership teams and boards of a thousand or more arts organizations, what advice would you provide to them to help them improve their businesses?

Mark Ciglar: I think that the most important thing is to put yourself in the shoes of your viewer. And what I mean by that is, where is your audience watching this video? Under what circumstances? They're scrolling through Facebook, they're sitting on their sofa watching television. How are you interrupting them right now? If they're on Facebook, they're surrounded by people they love. They're surrounded by messages that they're interested in. You're asking to interrupt that experience. If they're watching a television program, it's something that they're probably invested in. You're interrupting that experience. You have to earn that interruption. You have to give them something of, of quality. You have to give them something of value, to not have them be resentful for that interruption, but to actually appreciate it and to feel thankful enough to want more. So, earlier when I talked about creating the storyboard, I really suggest that when you go through that storyboard, you have to almost play pretend and imagine, I'm someone who has no investment in your organization. I'm someone who knows nothing about the kind of work you do. Can you imagine looking at Facebook and then watching this? Does this still affect me in that way? And I think if all of your decisions are driven by the audience's point of view, I think you'll always be headed in the right direction.

Erik Gensler: Absolutely. Well thank you so much.

Mark Ciglar: Thank you.