Brian Lilla is an award-winning storyteller who uses video to convey, convince, and cajole.
Brian got his start shooting short films, moved into documentaries, and grew into brand videos and commercials. While the executions may appear divergent, his keen eye for the heart of the matter is ever apparent.
We grabbed a few minutes on the phone with Brian, right before he was heading out to shoot footage for a new commercial piece and/or putting his young daughter down for a nap.
How did you get into this in the first place?
My gateway into filmmaking was shooting Super 8 film of me and my friends skating pools and our lifestyle. After about four years, I had all this great footage and people told me I should make a story out of it. So, I made this 20-minute documentary called “Twenty to Life.” I loved the process and then I made a few other short films. At that point, I decided that this is what I wanted to do and I’ve been doing it full-time for 16 years.
When did you make the jump to brand videos?
I’d made a bunch of shorts, but I’d never gone to film school and I knew I needed to get an education elsewhere. I read a lot of books, asked a lot of questions, and then did an internship at a production studio that did a lot of corporate and brand videos. I dove in and tried to learn as much as I could. They hired me on after the internship ended and I still work for them every now and again.
How do you keep learning?
Each project informs the next. So, I’m always learning about the state of branding and what’s happening in the advertising world. I’m not trying to figure anything out. I feel like I’m on a continuum.
Is there a secret to finding the core of a brand in order to tell a strong story?
It’s all in the preproduction. At the start of the Everi video, we spent a lot of time figuring out the message that they wanted to convey and the story that was going to tell it. I do that with every client: What is your story? That answer has to be delivered in a sentence or two. If it’s not, then the message is convoluted and complicated. It shouldn’t be. Once we get that down, then we can talk about how to do it.
Is video a good pick for any industry?
I can’t think of one market where it wouldn’t be effective. If I go to a restaurant’s website and they have a video, I’m going to look at it because that’s going to give me the vibe of the place. The same could be said for fashion or pharmaceutical. When we give movement to something, it breathes life into it.