The CEO is nervous. Her job, as she sees it, is to organise the company, work behind the scenes to keep stakeholders co-operative, talk in boardrooms. She doesn’t consider part of her job to be talking in front of a camera, about herself, telling stories and seeming at ease while feeling rigid inside.
Sitting in front of a camera requires a rare type of confidence that comes from experience (or brash youthfulness!). Being a powerful person in the boardroom does not always translate to being confident, warm and flowing on camera. Of course not. Think about the qualities a good CEO has. Toughness, straightforward attitudes, an ability to cut through crap and get stuff done. Good governance. The Board’s representative in carrying out the greater strategic goals. Being liked isn’t high on the priorities list.
Do you know what someone needs to look good in front of a camera? A smile. Warmth. Confidence, but not so much that you come off as threatening. Languidness. Ease. Balance. Deferment. A great deal of these qualities are not naturally promoted by a CEO role. Think below the surface. A CEO is constantly facing problems, threats and challenges. A personal fortitude often means a withholding nature, not giving away too much to avoid exposing weakness. The camera loves someone exposing their weakness then laughing about it with the audience.
So it can be very hard for a CEO to sit in front of a camera and feel natural. That’s what a director is on set for. A great director works almost entirely with the talent – our CEO – making her feel comfortable, talking with her, asking her questions to make her feel relaxed, explaining how everything works or completely ignoring the technology, depending on how the director intuits the CEO is best worked with. While the camera operator and soundie and lighting guy are moving around, setting up, talking, working out angles, the director keeps the CEO centred, focussed and prepared. They keep a quiet island for two amid the chaos.
Do you know who can’t do that? The one man operator. The guy who brings the camera, the lights and the sound, and sets it all up himself. He runs around, doing the work that takes a full crew an hour. He rushes, he sweats, he looks hassled. The CEO is nervous. She feels exposed, unsure, and when she asks questions to try and find security, she’s given short, offhand replies. She isn’t given eye contact. The solo operator throws replies over his shoulder, because he’s busy pushing the light up higher and balancing the shot bag on his foot.
The CEO hasn’t been looked after, given the time she deserves and needs for a good result. After the solo operator is finished set up, he asks the CEO if she’s ready. She says yes, because there’s no way she’ll look unprepared. He’ll press record and she’ll come off stiff, awkward, reserved, wooden. Of course she will! She wasn’t directed! Even talented, A-list stars need direction to get good work out of them.
That’s why you should hire a proper production crew. We know that a technician isn’t the best at working with people. That’s what directors are for, and we know some of the best directors going.