“Filmmaking is a team sport, and you’re always on the lookout for great people to work with. Through our Instagram, we’ve met a lot of people we collaborated with - directors, cinematographers, designers, photographers. In fact, half of the DPs we ever worked with, we actually discovered on social media first. It’s a great tool for everyone to showcase their work and find the people they want on their team. It’s the tool of our generation.” - Nick Martini, Co-Founder & Director at Stept Studios.
Is Instagram critical for filmmakers? It’s a question we all ask before we embark on the arduous journey of creating and growing our own social media profiles. On one hand, some in the industry see Instagram as nothing but a hobby that has no relation to their work. On the other, some have seen incredible results from being active on Instagram and find it instrumental to their work.
But whether you enjoy being active on social media or not, we can’t deny that Instagram has changed the game for filmmakers. Want a convenient platform to showcase your work where millions of fellow professionals can see and follow? Post it on Instagram! It’s become a great tool for marketing your personal brand and, recently, networking with filmmakers who share the same love for the industry.
Stept Studios takes this a step further and uses Instagram as major part of their business. Co-founder Nick Martini shares with us how they use Instagram, and how it helped them grow from a 3-man team to a company of 30 employees.
Growing with Social Media
“Stept was founded by me, Cam Riley (DP) and Alex Martini (business manager). We’re just like a lot of production companies out there. We were just a group of friends who grew up together in Boston, and skiing & skateboarding was a really big part of our lives. Filming goes hand-in-hand with a lot of these sports, so we caught the filmmaking bug and started making our own videos. At this time it was just sort of a hobby, since right after high school we all got accepted to a university in Boulder, Colorado to ski professionally.”
“During college, we traveled all over the world to ski with big brands that sponsored us (North Face, Under Armour, etc.). We made films of our skiing on the side which the brands started funding. We also put some of our videos on iTunes, where they sold pretty well and got us kind of a cult following. So towards the end of college, our skiing started to slow down and we transitioned to doing filmmaking as full-time gigs. We reached out to those same brands that worked with us before. They knew what we were capable of creating, so they started feeding us lots of content opportunities. That’s when Stept started.”
“The marketplace for video content shifted as we were shifting as well. We really liked making short-form content like short films and video for social media, and the demand for those kinds of videos skyrocketed as we were growing our brand. Videos that went on Facebook or Instagram that people watched on their mobile devices. It fit perfectly with what we specialized in. When we first moved to Los Angeles, it was just the 3 of us. Now, our LA office has 30 people, with 4 more based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.”
“We have 3 divisions to our company: Creative, Production, and Post. Everything is done in-house from creating ideas for branded films to having our own team of in-house executive producers. We also do all of the post production for our films in our LA office - visual effects, sound and color. This past year, we worked on over 100 different films between commercial and branded projects. It’s been an incredible year with great results.”
Tips for Creating A Good Instagram
“When people look at your profile, they want to see what you can create and accomplish. This goes for both clients and filmmakers who you might one day be working with. If you want to work with the best, your Instagram should be appealing but also represent you as a professional.”
“The first thing filmmakers should do is plan ahead visually and timing-wise to create a theme and aesthetic that’s consistent. When your Instagram comes together visually, it’s a great way to catch people’s attentions and get them to follow you. We’ve seen a big improvement in growing our follower count and retention of our followers as we put more effort into that.”
“The second thing is to create a cadence for your posts. It’s important to post regularly, but it’s also tough to maintain without a really focused effort. However, constantly posting keeps people engaged and makes your brand that much more recognizable. Our team has people dedicated to designing content for our Instagram, which pays off when our future partners see our profile.”
“The last thing is to remember is to post work that you’re proud of and don’t worry about what your followers want to see. People want to see the quality of your work, and if you stay true to yourself, they’ll come to you.”
The Impact of Social Media
“A lot of major brands are doing big stuff on Instagram now too, which seems to be the direction brands are going. We recently partnered with North Face for a new leggings product launch coming in Fall for women. It’s a video they plan to distribute to their Instagram as well. So we came up with the entire concept from the casting to the location, look and feel. This was shot on the Alexa Mini with Zeiss Super Speeds, with the Teradek Bolt 3000 sending video to our handheld director’s monitor and client monitor.”
“Instagram is a central place where we have all the resources we need as filmmakers to do our jobs better. It’s great for finding creatives that we want to work with, advertise ourselves, and sometimes just browse around to get inspiration. Networking is key to success in the film industry, so use Instagram to your advantage.”