“Why” not “What”

It’s the “why,” not the “what” that counts.  If we are told what someone does, it’s often just disposable information, words. We have no emotional connection to it.  If we learn why they do it, how do we feel? As humans we are connected to people when we feel we understand their hearts, why they do what they do.

With films, we have been able to watch what people do and see why they’re driven to do it. We see the emotion on their faces as they interact with each other. We capture small, meaningful gestures – maybe a fleeting frown or a quick twinkle in someone’s eye. Films show us the why.

Take Adrian, for example. Adrian is a normal guy who will take your “average” life, shake it up and walk with you along a path of self discovery. His talent is helping people find solutions to some of the toughest personal barriers.  He opens his clients’ eyes to their potential. Why does he do it? He believes in people. He believes people can change, improve and become great!

So, in order to create a film that would chop at the root of what Adrian does, we knew it had to be about his hope for people.

We started by asking ourselves questions like, ”Why are people stuck?” “Why is Adrian needed?” and, most importantly, “Why does Adrian do what he does?”

As we dug in to developing the film’s message, we knew it needed to embody keywords like “hope,” “break-through,” “perspective,” “potential,” and “vision.” We wanted to show how people get so caught up in the everyday to-do’s that life can become overwhelming, mundane and imprisoning. Some notice it, some don’t. The film had to end with a feeling of calmness and hope to break free.

The film had to build tension – both visually and audibly.  At certain points of the film, there are 8 different sources of audio layered to create a sense of tension and confusion: Cars, horns, water running and birds flying by.  Visually, we added natural camera movement/shake in the film to make it feel like it wasn’t perfectly produced. At one point, we show a POV of the dad rubbing his son’s head to help the viewer feel as if they are actually the dad rubbing the son’s head.

The payoff for the viewer is the end: The camera shifts to Adrian sitting on a staircase and the viewer realizes he was the film’s voiceover. We see – and hear – how he is invested in people. To create that feeling of investment, we directed the viewer’s attention completely on Adrian. We pushed in on Adrian as he spoke. As we thought about this vital shot, we quickly realized that it was going to be rather difficult to accomplish with a traditional slider shot. “How can we be most cost-effective to achieve this shot?” we asked ourselves. Dollies and carts were out of our budget. We turned to our friends, LensProToGo, to see what they had for rent… and we found it! Kessler makes a 5 foot slider that can be used with a motorized controller. We rented the basic controller with the slider, which allowed us to set the slider to automatically slide at a consistent speed.

Sweet, part one of this shot was taken care of.  The next piece of the puzzle was how to keep Adrian in focus as the camera moved closer to him. If we were to rack focus manually with our hand on the lens it could cause camera shake as the slider pushed in. A follow focus was a must for this shot. We had tried out various brands and found RedRock Micro makes a simple, lightweight and durable setup. When we ordered the setup, the company went above and beyond to help pick the right rig and make sure it got to us in time. RedRock Micro also included a “whip” – a thick cable with a wheel knob on it that keeps you from putting direct pressure on the focus wheel and minimizes the vibration that our hands could have caused – for the follow focus.

When production day arrived, we got everything set for the shot and had Adrian sit down.  We positioned the camera to where we wanted the shot to end and we marked the disc on the focus ring. We had Adrian run through his dialog while we ran the slider back, pulling out.  This way, we were able to gauge where we should start the shot.  After trying the shot a few times, we ended up putting markers on the slider from start to finish.  We then stopped the slider on each of these points, checked focus and marked the wheel on the follow focus. As we pushed in closer to Adrian, we had to rack focus faster because the window of focus became shallower.  After a few tries, we were able to pull off the shot we set out to capture…and we love it.


We started the post with saying why is greater then the what, and within the post we explained what we did to create the why… but why did we do it?  Well, we wanted people to feel that they had hope to take control of their own lives and future.  We knew a film about Adrian coaching a person would not help a person discover this, so we worked hard to produce a film that took you on a journey of being overwhelmed, stuck, and brought you to a space of clarity.  Our ultimate goal with every project is not to entertain someone… its to move them!  If we can do this, we feel we have helped change the world just a little, and this makes us happy.  Why do you do what you do?


Love STF

Mark St. John - May 14, 2013 - 7:38 pm

Wow, what a treat to read the in depth background of such an impacting video that i just watched for the first time yesterday on Adrian’s site. It was very apparent to me during the viewing that tension was created as i watched the busy crank of day to day life while the provoking questions came through. Creating the “relief” and peace in the stairwell was a welcome and subliminal peace where Adrian drew me in for the “Kill”
And, admittedly, not knowing anything about the film industry found this quite intriguing from that angle as well.
Stellar work!!

Mark St. John

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