'I love brands that are clear on what they're passionate about': Romanowsky on branded films

Screenwriter and director Pamela Romanowsky on how emotion plays a major role in brand films.

How is a brand film different than a traditional advertising campaign? Why are more brands exploring storytelling as a way to attract an audience?

A brand film is not about selling a specific product in the way a traditional commercial is, it’s more about distilling the spirit of the brand into a narrative and a visual style. Brand films tell a story and capture an energy that shares the brand’s core DNA and speaks to its mission, values, and personality. 

What tips would you give to brands on their mission to create content?

I love talking to brands who are very clear on what they’re passionate about and how they want to make people feel. What are their emotional priorities? Is it a feeling of freedom and possibility? Or is it courage and integrity? When I know the emotional core, I can make sure it’s integral to each moment of the story and imagery. 

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What is different about working with a brand as opposed to the regular filmmaking process? 

Short films are fun because you have more time to prep and shoot than you would on a feature or episodic project. Visually, because you have such little time, each image has to accomplish a lot on multiple levels. The brand element adds a series of anchor points and priorities that have to be considered in each frame in addition to story, performance, and visual style, like an added layer of tone. 

How do you create artistic integrity when working with a brand?

Hopefully you’re in alignment from the beginning. 

What makes a great brand film? Give some examples of films from over the years.

Tone, emotion, energy, and purpose contribute to great brand films. I particularly like anything that captures the feeling of freedom, being transported to spectacular places and meeting exceptional individuals. 

Nowness always has really inspiring content. I also love Meta (the digital and print motorcycle magazine). 

A new favorite is Oliver Würrfell’s portrait of spearfisher Kimi Werner for Mercedes Benz:


Some of my other favorite brand films are: 

Paul Geusebroek’s Amsterdam Destroyer for Nike:

Cary Fukunaga’s Go Forth for Levi’s

The North Face: The Explorer (VO Buzz Aldrin)
Director Anson Fogel for North Face

Pamela Romanowsky is a Brooklyn-based screenwriter and director who works across long, episodic, and short form. Pamela’s feature debut, The Adderall Diaries (starring James Franco, Ed Harris and Amber Heard) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released by A24 in 2016. Her short-form work includes branded pieces for Dove chocolate, Sotheby’s, and Refinery29.

This story first appeared on BrandFilmFestival.com

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