Richard Bullock: If a client is hesitant to make a brand film, just lie

The Hungry Man Productions film director talked about how much control he has when working with brands at the Brand Film Festival New York.

NEW YORK: Hungry Man Productions film director Richard Bullock said when a client asks him to create a short spot, he "sort of lies to brands" by not letting on that he intends to make a longer film.

During a panel at the PRWeek and Campaign U.S. Brand Film Festival New York on Thursday, when asked how much control filmmakers have when creating brand films, Bullock said it "annoys him to death" when brands say they want a three-minute content film.

"Brands always say, ‘three minutes,’ as if that’s all that works," he said. "But I say I will do it. I can’t tell them at the time that I am going to do a whole show." 

This is what happened when client Omega approached him a few years ago, asking for a three-minute piece of content about the Flying Eye Hospital when it was in Mongolia. The film he made was called Through Their Eyes and included actor Daniel Craig.

"I had enough money because the tools and crews you have can be smaller," Bullock said. "We made a half-hour program from a two-minute budget and it ran globally on National Geographic."

When asked if he got extra money for that, Bullock said he "didn’t care," adding that the next film he did with Omega was an hour long.

Another panelist, Max Joseph, a filmmaker at Hungry Man Productions, said it is helpful to prep clients that "things might get uncomfortable" with brand films, but assure them that’s where the magic happens.

"I tell clients, ‘If you’re not nervous, it’s bad and it isn’t going to make noise,’" said Joseph.

Bullock added that brand films give companies the opportunity to be more creative and interesting than 30-or 60-second spots. Because shorter spots have been around for a long time, it is hard to be "different" in that area. A longer video gives brands the opportunity to change the parameter of what they are making, he said. 

"If you can be stellar in 30-seconds, do that forever," said Bullock. "If clients have interesting stories they can tell, why make things with a guy in a kitchen with kids forever? So why not just find out stories about a brand and tell those?"

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