Case Study: PART A

10.01.2017 |

Episode #8 of the course How to make a viral video by Carlos P. Beltran


In lesson #2, I mentioned that I am a working, traveling freelance journalist. The reason why I want my videos to perform well online is because the better they do, the more work I get and the better I get paid. So far, I have been able to work for more than 30 networks in 19 different countries. And it has been, without a doubt, because my videos do well online.

I will note that I get commissioned to produce videos based on my story pitches. So I pick my subjects and the networks I pitch them to.

The New York Post recently published a video I produced while in New York. It got 1.8 million unique views in three days, effectively making it viral. Let’s see the 4 principles in action.


Capture reality

During a stroll in New York City, I met Louis Mendes, a 79-year-old photographer from Queens, who has been photographing people in New York City for the past 40 years. Every day he does the same thing. He has a quick breakfast and gets his 1940s Speed Graphic instant camera ready, goes out to the city, and takes portraits of people for small donations. His routine and stories are fascinating.

I wanted to tell his story under a fly-in-the-wall approach. I merely followed him for just one day as he did his thing. This was genuine. This was real.


Be concise

Louis’ story could merit a feature film, I’m sure. But in my short form online-based business, you have to be able to tell a compelling story in under five minutes. I told his story in just about two and a half minutes. Make no mistake—compressing his story, even if a slice of life, in such a short amount of time while still doing him justice took time and work. My first draft of the video was over 5 minutes long.

I was able to show a true, real snippet of Louis’ life in a brief amount of time. I knew my audience would watch this on the go. I grab people’s attention within the first five seconds using dynamic shots and sound (listen to the peeling off sound of the paper as the instant photo is revealed).


Be unique

If you go through your Facebook feed, you’ll see plenty of videos. Most of them will be under 90 seconds with abundant text on the screen (in case no one listens to the audio) and mostly money shots. With over seven years working in short, medium, and feature documentaries, my style is naturally character-driven, documentary-style pieces. I use close-ups, establishing shots, and candid moments to get close to the subject.

Try it. Go to The New York Post site and look at the video section. It shouldn’t take you much time to notice the differences between the majority of their videos and the one I produced.

Let’s continue tomorrow with PART B of this case study section.


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