Your video should
make an impact

Cutting a ‘Good’ Interview for Your Next Brand Video

If you’ve ever watched an unedited interview – yawn – you know how extremely helpful the editing process can be. Music, graphics, cutaways…  all of these elements help drive a compelling video. As far as Bottle Rocket Media’s Dave Sarno is concerned, a great brand video requires both a “relaxed subject” and a creative mind at the console.

How do interviews enhance brand videos?

Because you get to see faces. After all, brands are people, right? We all want to feel something when we watch a video—interviews help the audience get something emotional and passionate directly from the client. They create memories. If someone is excited about their products or services, it’s so much more impactful to see that excitement.

What video editing techniques help interviews come alive?

A relaxed interview subject is a great start. I have to rely mainly on the producers and directors to create the right atmosphere on set. Beyond that, there is only so much an editor can do with broll, music and graphics to add texture and mood to an interview. A great music track, for example, is a great way to set the pace. B-roll and active footage are also nice additions to balance out a monologue and keep the audience interested—matching words with product-related visuals can help emphasize the point and leave a lasting impact.

What constitutes a good interview?

Good interviews move quickly. They share important information, clearly. The composition is balanced, and multiple cameras provide variety. But most importantly, a good interview feels like an honest trip into the mind of the person and the brand.

It usually takes the combined efforts of a passionate subject, a seasoned producer or director, and a creative editor at the console to create the most honest, effective result. Again, it’s about finding and exploiting those compelling moments. At the end of the day, if the interview sticks in your head, it’s a success.

Interviewing sometimes takes skill Learn some tips on being a great interviewee.

Why is editing interviews a unique process?

It’s a specific balance between getting the best content and the best performance while staying true to the intended message. You have to scour the footage and find the most human moments to really underscore the message. The performances are what they are, so I try to make everything flow through the most honest quotes and authentic reactions I can find.

What are the main challenges?

The more natural the subject matter, the better. Oftentimes the performer isn’t relaxed in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t. Remember, these are usually real people behind the brands, not actors. So if the piece is feeling stiff or unemotional, I simply start with my personal favorite moments and go from there. Maybe it’s someone unexpectedly laughing or smiling during a serious monologue, or even a natural exchange between takes when we were still rolling. There is always a way in, if you look hard enough.

Can an editor help ensure a good interview before it arrives in post?

Yes. If you are on a collaborative team, like we are, you’ll definitely have a say during pre-production. It’s the best opportunity to offer ideas for provocative or message-driving questions, and that will influence the end result.

My team almost always conducts pre-interviews with our subjects to give all parties a sense of what to expect on set. This helps the subject become comfortable with the camera, while helping us prepare to capture, and cut around, their individual personalities.

How would you describe your editing style?

My goal is to offer whatever style best meets the piece. If it’s comedic, I try to push the pace. If it’s a music video, I look for visuals to match the nuances of the melody. If it’s a brand video, I aim for a little professional polish. The style should seamlessly match what the client wants. Editing at its best is invisible.


Ready to make a video for your brand? Click here to find out how Bottle Rocket Media can help.

This Is Bottle Rocket Media | Meet Editor, Tre Manchester

There is no ‘I’ in team, but there is a Tre Manchester! At Bottle Rocket Media, no video production is complete until the editor has told their version of the story – and with Tre at the console, every piece of the “puzzle” is carefully shaped to fit with the overall vision of the crew and client. Learn how he started out and why it is important to ignore the critics:

What makes a “good” editor?

Being a good editor is like being a puzzle-master – except you’re allowed to alter the shape of the pieces as you go. Throughout any video production, the story is told three times: when you write it, shoot it, and edit it. Being an editor also means being a good storyteller with a keen eye for those special moments, ready to experiment to make the pieces fit.

Why do you love what you do?

I love learning something new each time I edit. Working at Bottle Rocket Media exposes me to new clients every day, and each video has some new story or profession to explore. Whether it’s editing a medical video, or a narrative comedy, I get to learn while making something creative.

How did you get your start?

I started in creative writing, which eventually sparked a desire to see my ideas come to life through film. For the past eight years, I’ve honed my craft in producing, directing and editing – both on freelance content projects and in the feature-narrative side of the industry.

How did you end up connecting with Bottle Rocket Media?

I met Dan [Founder] a few years back when I was running the video department at a digital marketing agency. When it came time to find something new, we reconnected. After meeting Brett [Partner] and the rest of the team, I knew Bottle Rocket Media was where I wanted to be. It’s exactly the kind of atmosphere I had been looking for.

What unique perspective do you bring to the team?

Having a team mentality is something so crucial in this industry. I grew up playing sports, and adapted that mindset to working on sets, and in post-houses. At the end of the day, we are all working toward common goals. I feel most of my career is a testament to being a team player or leader – which has brought me to where I am today.

What types of BRM projects are you looking forward to in 2019? What have you worked on so far that you are really excited about?

We just shot and edited a series for Glidden paint, which demanded synergy between all production departments, from pre-to-post. It really helped fine-tune our process of using multiple editors, simultaneously. It was like painting a mural—each of us had a brush and some paint, and together we had to work in unison to create a cohesive result.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the field/why?

My first feature film. It was a crash course in real-life filmmaking, requiring me to build my team from nothing, and bring everyone together on one massive endeavor. I heard the words “no” and “good luck” a lot on that journey, but the final result surpassed my expectations, leading to distribution, domestically and overseas. Most importantly, I learned my own strengths and weaknesses, which helped shape me professionally.

Favorite movie of all time and why…

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick is a big influence on me. I first saw it at a formative time in my career, when I was learning the language of film and video. It opened my eyes to the method of breaking all the “rules” and usurping a typical narrative structure, while still impacting the audience emotionally.

Thanks, Tre!

Click for a glimpse of The Tree of Life, and see some “rules” get broken.

This is Bottle Rocket Media | Meet Project Manager, Stephanie Jaslowski

When project manager, Stephanie Jaslowski grabs the ball, it’s game on. As the “quarterback” of every single Bottle Rocket Media production, it is her responsibility to know all the plays beforehand and ensure a winning video production –from beginning to edit.

What does it mean to be a project manager?

Being a project manager is like being a quarterback. The coach, or producer, relays all the information that you need to set your team up—but, it’s your responsibility to know the plays, the expectations, and what’s going at all times. You pass everything along to your teammates, who look to you to keep the project moving efficiently. 

Why do you love what you do?

I love being the person who knows what’s up, and I love being the main point of contact between Bottle Rocket Media’s clients and the team. It’s definitely a challenge to juggle many projects at different stages, but that’s what I live for. Also, being involved in the entire video production process, from start to finish, is very fulfilling. Watching a simple idea morph into a successful creation for the client makes even the toughest projects worthwhile.

How did you get your start?

After graduating from Loyola University Chicago, I worked as a production assistant for McDonald’s Corporation. Spending time in the creative services department, helping out on large internal conferences, I realized how much extra work and dedication is required behind the scenes that so many don’t see.

How did you end up connecting with Bottle Rocket Media? 

I saw the post on LinkedIn and applied right away! Ready for the next chapter, I wanted to move on to a video production company with an engaging and inspiring vision. I was ready to meet a new group of people who love and thrive at what they do. It was the perfect fit.

How does your working style fit with the team?

I like to get things done, and so does everyone else. We all take our roles and responsibilities seriously and know what’s expected of us. We also collaborate together because we know we are better as a team. It’s pretty great to be surrounded by such creative individuals. Everyone on our team is crucial to our success.

What types of projects are you looking forward to in 2019? 

I’m looking forward to seeing our top secret Aragon Ballroom piece come together next month.  It’s exciting for us to be a part of a historic music venue that means so much to Chicago.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the field/why? 

I’m proud to say that I have never given an incorrect call time or address. It’s easier said than done (I probably just jinxed myself) but I take pride in getting people to show up when and where they’re supposed to. It’s all on me.

Favorite movie/video of all time and why…

There are so many films that have inspired me in so many different ways. I’ve always loved “You’ve Got Mail,” because of Nora Ephron’s writing style and directing. But, “Remember the Titans” will always be the first film that I watched over and over until I knew every line, every music track, and every actor. The well-drawn characters really changed my perspective for the better. In the end, I love movies that make the audience laugh, cry, think, and come together.

In the Cutting Room | Meet Editor, Dave Sarno

Meet Bottle Rocket Media Editor, Dave Sarno

Dave Sarno knows about visual storytelling—as far as he is concerned, it is not just the writing or directing that guides the viewer. With a love of film that began at age 10, he has fully embraced the painstaking, yet vital “discovery process” that is post-production. Learn how his approach helps push each Bottle Rocket Media project forward.

Framed: An Improvised Series – “The Clown” from Bottle Rocket Media on Vimeo.

What got you into editing?

I’ve been into movies and storytelling since I was 10. My first foray into the filmmaking process was making Super 8 movies with my childhood friends (Yep, I date myself). Much later, after I graduated from film school, I co-directed a feature documentary film. While working on that project, I saw the story come together in the editing room and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.

What about the craft moves you?

I can’t explain the reason why a cut works—I just know it when I see it. It’s trial and error until something clicks. I like that discovery process.

How does your style/technique tie into creating successful brand videos?

A lot of stories are reimagined in the editing room. Sometimes, the intended middle scene becomes the opening scene. Other times, a voice over is added to give depth to the visuals. The cut at the end of the day can be much different than at the start. There is a lot of improvising required in editing in order to get the best result. For me, it is always exciting to try something new in the editing room that hasn’t yet been considered.

What video technology/storytelling technique are you most excited about right now?

Moving to Bottle Rocket Media from the freelance world has allowed me to edit many 360 video projects. It’s a different kind of storytelling, and I’m eager to see where we can go with it.

What has been your proudest accomplishment at Bottle Rocket Media?

We shot and edited a web series last year called Framed, featuring the amazing talents of Chicago’s funniest improvisors asking a “shop owner” to frame bizarre objects. Since the actors were so funny, there were actually few moments that weren’t usable. We sculpted the 4-5 min episodes in the edit and my job was keeping the pace up while staying out of their way.

Comedy operates completely on what feels good and what makes you laugh in the cut. It was a great learning experience and so much fun. I wear headphones in the office, and everyone knew when I was cutting Framed because I laughed out loud a lot.


Favorite movie of all time and why…

Good Fellas. The camera movement, the editing, the acting… It’s uncomfortable. It’s terrifying—funny and manic. I think I’ve softened a little over the years as a movie watcher, but each time I see it, I can’t take my eyes off it.

Client Spotlight | Carol’s Cookies

Meet Carol’s Cookies

Bottle Rocket Media offers a taste of what it’s like to work with one of Chicago’s most in-demand purveyors of all-natural gourmet eats. With almost 40 years of operations under its belt, Carol’s Cookies met the production team with both a seasoned “understanding of marketing and video,” and a monster success story to share with the world. The end result is an intimate portrait of a family business – and a slightly heavier crew.

Bottle Rocket Media founder, Dan Fisher, spotlights the added value of working with a vice president that “gets” production: “Our partnership with Carol’s Cookies wouldn’t be nearly as productive without direct collaboration with Jeff Goldman – son of Carol. He is one of those rare clients that holds a true understanding of marketing and video, and how to maximize his spend. Plus, his passion for the family business keeps him engaged, which makes working with him and his team a lot of fun.”

Like many other creative adventures in video, Bottle Rocket Media’s work with Carol’s Cookies took a few twists and turns along the way “to become even more impactful than originally conceived,” adds Fisher. What initially presented itself as a company overview became more of an intimate portrait once the team arrived on site and “felt the love” for Carol and her 30-plus employees all with the same mission: to make the best cookie, by hand.

After a concept was pinpointed, a few technical hurdles remained as they almost always do in the world of video production—this is where Bottle Rocket Media’s collective shooting knowledge shines through: “We thrive on overcoming obstacles and coming away with new ideas on every project,” Fisher continues. “The big challenge on this one was shooting around a giant Cookie Monster mural that took over almost the entire background at the brand’s HQ. The interviews had to be extraordinarily coordinated. Thanks to Brett’s [Brett Singer, Co Director and Business Partner] ingenuity there’s not even a sliver of it in the final video.”

Framing aside, the experience’s overall smooth tone was set from the very beginning: “We sat down with the client and got to know more about Carol’s Cookies by asking questions and soaking up the history,” Fisher says. “Because of Jeff’s open-door attitude, our team was able to gain valuable insight into the how and why behind the brand. Once we started filming, we let the story lead the way.”

This was not the team’s first engagement with infamous Chicago cookie queen; Bottle Rocket Media has also partnered with the client on a series of videos in which Carol surprises people at work. “Both engagements were a pleasure,” Fisher adds. “Especially since Jeff allows us to be creative and always use our expertise to up the ante and upgrade the content.”

According to Goldman, the feelings are mutual: “People always say that you can have it done quickly, cost effectively, or have high quality – but, you can’t have all three. Well, Bottle Rocket proves those people wrong,” he asserts. “[Carol’s Cookies] searched for a firm that could communicate the handmade beauty of our cookies without breaking the bank—you have to sell a lot of cookies to pay for a big campaign. Bottle Rocket was able to meet a strict deadline, stay within budget and create material that is relatively timeless. They made us feel comfortable on camera – which helped it feel natural, yielding an excellent end product. We can’t wait to do another fun project like this with their team.”

“We also look forward to more projects in the future with Jeff and his team,” Fisher concludes. “The cookies are amazing, by the way. Our next challenge will be figuring out how to not gain weight during production.”

The Recipe for a Bad Video

The worst video list: Decidedly more embarrassing than the worst dressed list

Video is everywhere. Some of it is outstanding, and some of it is really awful. YouTube alone gets 4 billion views a day, and the quality of these videos spans the spectrum from HD music videos to a Mom filming her kid’s soccer goal on a first-generation Samsung Galaxy. With the opportunity to get your content in front of a new set of eyes every second, putting out a good product should be a top priority for brands and marketers, and that means avoiding the following production fouls.

5 signs your video missed the mark

We’re all about creativity in the storytelling space, and while making your own video is totally doable, there’s always the chance that something out of your control will spring up and throw a wrench in production. One way to avoid these hangups is to work with a professional production company that will help draft, produce, edit, and manages the entire process for you. We’ve got a team ready to do just that (and then some). Contact Bottle Rocket Media to get started.