Three eye-opening discoveries have struck me this week.
Firstly, I unearthed the horrific details of a crime in the leafy, tranquil surroundings of my very own doorstep.
Secondly, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that, contrary to my assertions over twenty years ago, I will in actual fact find myself referencing the first film I ever studied at university.
The crime was abhorrent, unprovoked and unnerving for a small rural community.
A pub landlady in an Oxfordshire hamlet was murdered in cold blood and with no apparent motive.
The killer was found, arrested and convicted. He was three months past his fifteenth birthday when he took the woman’s life and with such gore and violence that even now a film director may struggle to justify portraying the events in full.
The year was 1922. The relevance? It is thought to be the first instance in Britain of someone being influenced to commit a crime by the images they saw at
Blame it on the pictures
the young Jack Hewitt is recorded to have said after signing his police statement.
The film I studied was released three years after the murder and is unrelated but not without connection.
It was 1925 and Sergei Eisenstein directed a film which dramatised the mutinous events of 1905 aboard the Battleship Potemkin when the crew turned against their Tsarist commanders.
Although much of it was lost on me all those years ago it is, nonetheless, a powerful and emotional piece of cinema and is often cited as one of the most influential propaganda films of all time.
We don’t know which film or films Jack Hewitt might have been blaming for his murderous actions but we can be pretty sure they weren’t produced with the intention of provoking murder.
We do know that Eisenstein’s acclaimed ‘Battleship Potemkin’ had very specific aims, namely crafting a new Russian identity and propelling a Communist message to the West.
None of these films would have featured the spoken word. They relied on strong creative vision, technical expertise and innovation. All words which you will likely find in any LinkedIn job spec for a modern ‘videographer’ or equivalent.
Indeed when it comes to innovation Eisenstein was strapping cameras to individuals to get to the heart of the action nearly eighty years before GoPro facilitated the same concept for every skier, skydiver and speed-freak
You or your business are also probably a lot closer to Eisenstein
than you realise.
‘Battleship Potemkin’ was propaganda. Many of your marketing videos are, or certainly should be, propagandistic in their objectives, shouldn’t they?
By its non-political definition, ‘Propaganda’ is
“ information, ideas, opinions, or images, often only giving one part of an argument, that are broadcast, published, or in some other way spread with the intention of influencingpeople’s opinions”
If your video content strategy isn’t delivering information, ideas opinions or images in a one-sided way and you are not then broadcasting, publishing or spreading them with the intention of influencing people’s opinions then you are letting yourself down, your customers down and, most importantly, you’re letting your business down.
Before you close this LinkedIn page and open up your website, YouTube channel or other video platform to check exactly how many of your marketing videos are effectively delivering your propaganda, I will remind you of one critical
In the vast majority of cases the best marketing videos are not conceived through a technical whizz-kid opening Final Cut Pro or similar software. They start with a pen, at the end of which is a creative mind, or minds, empowered and incentivised to tell a compelling story, regardless of how long or short that story might be.
Words are the foundation of every great story.
Jack Hewitt hadn’t heard any words which caused him to “blame it on the pictures”. Eisenstein used no spoken words when he portrayed his revolution, but words underpinned both.
In editing ‘Battleship Potemkin’, Eisenstein left 28,400 meters of film on the cutting room floor, out of an original 30,000 metres.
I wonder how many pages of screenplay that equated to?
This lead me to my third and final eye-opening discovery of the week.
That 1,600 metres which was the final ‘Battleship Potemkin’ film reel length is also the distance from my front door to the scene of Jack Hewitt’s crime.