The power of sharing stories through online video


This week I am writing about the power of online video. There are many stories that need to be told. Once told these stories need to be shared.

72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. With that much video content how can we filter out stuff that we want to view? How can we find videos that are going to be informative or that we personally connect with?

I could spend hours browsing YouTube, wasting time trying to find films that are relevant to me. I don’t have the time or want to do this so my number one filtering tool has become Facebook. I am lucky to have a fairly discerning bunch of friends on Facebook and when I see a video link that has been shared with a personal recommendation I am quick to click.

That is how this week I stumbled across two great online videos.

I spend my time creating personally relevant films with groups and organisations. I know that this is the key to audience engagement. People are more likely to click and play something that they feel connected to. The two films that I want to share with you are both about cancer. I recently went through the devastating experience of losing my mum to this disease and I know that this is why I am so completely engaged by this content. They are however two great examples of online shorts that I believe will engage all audiences whether they have been personally affected or not. I hope you watch them and you too feel the need to share.

The first film is called Dear 16 Year Old Me. It was produced in 2011 and currently has 6,414,746 views on YouTube.

Dear 16 Year Old Me

(Produced by David Cornfield Melanoma Fund)

There is a lot I love about this film. The idea is simple, and not necessarily original but the message is clear and executed beautifully.

It can be so tempting for an organization to produce a ‘youthy’ film for the ‘youth’ audience. This film is targeted at 16 year olds. It is informative and personal. I truly believe a teenage audience wouldn’t feel patronized or bored by the way the information is shared. Keeping things simple and honest can have such power.

I also love the clear call to action. It is one thing producing a film, another gaining an audience but how can you get people to take action? The simple request to forward this film on to a 16 year old is perfect. The film is made for sharing and the 45,178 shares (on the one Facebook link I looked at) show that it is working.

The information in this film can literally save lives. I viewed the film and was moved to action. I hope others that view the film through this blog will do the same.

The second film I would like to share with you is in tribute to Zach Sobiech. The following film tells Zach’s Story:

My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech

(Produced by SoulPancake and AFG Productions)

It is hard to know what to write. I came across this film after a friend recommended it on Facebook. I had no idea about how much Zach had suffered.

Zach passed away earlier this week on May 19th. His strength and passion for life are so evident in this film and I believe all who watch it will be hugely inspired to reflect on the way that they approach their own lives.

To me this film is about legacy. It is impossible to watch this film and not to feel moved by Zach, his family and the way that they all faced his disease.

Documentary can so often feel invasive if it is not handled with great care. The filmmakers have shared Zach’s story with huge amounts of tenderness. Grief at loss and joy at the short time that was shared are both evident here.

It feels strange to write about a boy that I never knew – especially at a time when his family have suffered such a huge loss but I believe there is a power in sharing his story. Through watching and listening people can learn something about the way Zach faced his short life – and that is where his legacy lies.

Of course the world has been hugely moved by the story. His song Clouds reached number one on iTunes this week, the video has over 5 million views on YouTube and all social media sites have been alive with tributes for him.

Once again this film is made for sharing. We can learn from both stories.


Post by Alison Wright , director, VividEcho






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