CommCorner guest 007: Avni Nijhawan

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Avni is an artist and a storyteller, but that's just the foundation of her professional identity. Working with Avni is a professional experience from beginning to end. Experiencing the creative process is an added benefit to working with Avni and Glass Locket Film, where she takes her clients through an immersive process to photograph and film them and their businesses and to relate their points of view. The value of her work - the ultimate artifacts of a personal brand - is amplified by the client's active participation in the creation. You learn something about what you're all about when you're working with Avni as you figure out how to visually share what you're all about. 

Avni's work is interpretive. People come to her to create a visual expression of their brand - whether that be themselves as entrepreneurial trail blazers or their companies and the driving mission behind them. With a background in journalism, Avni blends her storytelling chops with her artistic talent. Her process has been honed through parsing and piecing together story after story. Walking through this creative process is enlightening and the final product is inspiring, as Avni is able to take the truths about a person or a company or a mission and simultaneously convey, immortalize, and impart the intrinsic essence of their purpose -- big stuff and she does it so well. Mad props and bravo!

**NOTE FROM HANNAH: At Duchesne Communications, we refer our clients to Avni. My headshots were taken at Glass Locket Film and I am overwhelmingly pleased by every aspect of the projects we've worked on together. Here's to many more in the future!**

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The Art of Storytelling

Let’s begin by talking about this 34-second "life-changing" video.

With its 17 million views, 178,000 shares, and 97,000 comments, it’s the kind of video professional filmmakers like me despise. Simply put, it’s one of those 50 bazillion things on the Internet that’s kinda dumb yet maddeningly effective.

Yes, even I stopped scrolling and stared for 5 whole seconds before I left. That’s nothing short of a miracle in today’s oversaturated feeds.

Why did it work? Because it capitalizes on one of the few things that humans seem to have an endless capacity for: surprise and delight. We wonder: What’s on the other side of that weird-ass looking pancake? Or is that it? Wait 5 seconds. Boom! 

Both the image and text contribute to the mystery. And as this commenter eloquently put it, we didn’t have to wait half an hour to feel gratified:

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We see hundreds of these kinds of videos on a daily basis and they’re good at getting eyeballs because they follow some basic goals for making --

“click-worthy” content:

  1. Get their attention

  2. “Entertain” them

  3. Keep it short

Does this mean that as content creators, we’re stuck in an endless loop of 30-second cat pancake videos and memes?

Thankfully, no. Do you remember Kony 2012, the 30-minute documentary made by Invisible Children? Watch just the first minute below. Did you feel something? I know I sure did.

Did you feel something? I know I sure did.

That’s the next level in content creation-- make it personal and tell a story. Get an emotional reaction that goes beyond the surprise of the first few seconds. Then go beyond a “reaction,” and stick with your viewer. Open their mind. Make them do something.

The following video, by a judge relating a personal courtroom experience, is successful on its own as a sub-two-minute piece, but it really makes me want to listen to the full sixteen-minute talk. It caught my attention. It entertained me. It makes me want to learn more.

And that’s why I’m not throwing my hands up and shutting down my business: Humans may like surprise, but they love a good story. We’re hardwired for them. While story formats are in constant flux, I have a good feeling that our desire -- no, our need -- for stories isn’t going away.   


Avni Nijhawan is a multimedia storyteller who runs a creative video and luxury portrait business, Glass Locket Film, in Santa Clara. If you liked this post, sign up for her delight-filled monthly newsletters by clicking here.