Creativity is like nature; attempts to control it may seem effective at first but later prove ineffective and futile. The modern day commercial is an ideal example of this. Artists and professionals who yearn for greater expression have found a kinship with consumers who don’t want to be blatantly marketed to, they want to be stimulated. The result has been an increase in branded content. For those not so savvy on this term, it simply presents a means for storytelling that is associated with a product or service. Rather than telling you why you should desire a product, these productions help you to feel a certain way about it and make the decision for yourself. For professionals like cinematographer Steve Lindsay, branded content can offer more freedom and a fulfilling use of his talent. Talent visible in his work on reality TV productions (You Gotta Eat Here!) and acclaimed documentaries (Outside the Ring) are just as evident in advertisements for Coca Cola and Canon. An artistic perspective knows no bounds.
We are in an age when Oscar winning filmmakers and actors create content exclusively for streaming services; a time when social media influencers can earn more money than A-list actors. This environment proves that old ideas are falling away and talent is fluid. This is as true for a DP like Steve Lindsay as for any of the aforementioned professionals. Talent recognizes talent and Lindsay finds himself behind the camera for films, television, documentaries, commercials, and just about any type of production he finds interesting. Both film and branded content are equal in the sense that they are most certainly creative endeavors. When discussing advertisements, Steve relates, “I don’t think that branded content is any more creative than a traditional commercial, it’s simply a different way to tell a story. I personally enjoy working on branded content more. I enjoy the story telling. I enjoy the smaller crews and the collaboration. Branded content allows more freedom and I find that very appealing.”
The success of these type of productions is just as impactful as in previous eras but calculated through a different filter. The Gold Peak Iced Tea (owned by Coca Cola) spot which Lindsay shot with director Jim Morrison IV was a massive success with more than ten million views on digital platforms (https://www.tastemade.com/videos/gold-peak-capoeira-family). Quantifying this through the lens of traditional broadcast television, that’s almost five times the people who tune in for the top rated late night talk shows in the US…to watch a program about iced tea. Deep storytelling can be found in other branded content videos shot by Lindsay such as “Respect Your Ingredients” (for Bosch Appliances). Each video showcases a chef as they cook their favorite dish using a Bosch appliances, discussing the important of the ingredients as they buy and prepare them (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f4QCdmcx_0). Incredibly moving is the Canon (cameras and lenses) video which tells the story of Jan O’Hearn who has sponsored a Syrian family from Damascus in her home town of Toronto. With more than thirty years of experience in the restaurant business, her passion for Syrian culture and food is as large as her heart; displayed as Jan is seen volunteering at a space in Toronto called Newcomer Kitchen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGZXFAsqfVc).
Steve’s success in other productions confirms the size of his talent. You Gotta Eat Here! (Food Network Canada) has received Canadian Screen Awards for Best Lifestyle or Talk Program or Series, Best Direction, and Best Lifestyle Program or Series. Outside the Ring was a finalist at the at the Shadow Box Film Festival in New York City and is currently being used as a Pedagogical Training tool at Bridgewater State University. All indicate the talent of this cinematographer but it’s the adulation and respect of his fellow professionals that keeps his work schedule air-tight. Lindsay’s frequent collaborator director Jim Morrison IV proclaims, “Steve’s cinematic choices in lighting and composition are why he was subsequently my first choice as a cinematographer for commercial and branded content campaigns. They require a lot of in the field adaptation and preparation. Recently we filmed a series for Coca Cola’s GOLD PEAK ICED TEA across the United States in incredibly varied situations. The series was a massive success. Steve and I are currently in development for and indie feature called BRACEWATER.”