The Perfect Movie and the Perfect Piece of Content

The Perfect Movie and the Perfect Piece of Content
February 27, 2012

For anyone who decided to the give the 84th Annual Academy Awards a chance last night, you were probably, like I, disappointed that Nicholas Cage wasn’t nominated for any of his several hundred movies this year. Yet, if you admired Billy Crystal’s commendable (albeit somewhat unsuccessful) effort to bring the show back to its glory days, you might have stuck around long enough to see an interesting, pre-recorded segment where performers and directors were asked to define “the perfect movie”.

It’s such a fitting question for the occasion and yet few could give an even slightly palpable response. I was finally able to come up with my own definition, which I’m humbly convinced beats all of theirs (after all, what do they know about movies?).

For me, the perfect movie is the one you almost never want to see again after the first time because you’re afraid that seeing it again might dilute how much it moved you when you first saw it.

Mine unexpectedly came along in 2006 and nabbed Marty Scorsese his first, long-overdue Oscar. [SPOILERS] I didn’t fall in love with The Departed because of the sex, violence, drugs, and demonic homage to the city of Boston (although that was all great too). I remember sitting deep in my seat, toiling alongside Billy Costigan, feeling his anxiety, his fear, his utterly human desire for relief as a disguised lamb among jackals. His completely unpredictable death just before he can cross the finish line chilled me to the bone. And yet, the equally unexpected justice that befalls his murderer at the end brought me the same release that Billy chases throughout the entire film.

To my friends, it was another breathtaking action movie that, alongside the Red Sox dominance, made it internationally cool to be from Boston. To me, it changed the way I thought about the things that were important to me. It made me want to write; to make an impact on…something. To this day, I’m not completely sure why the movie had such an effect, but it would be another two and half years before I would sit down to watch that film again…out of fear that I wouldn’t feel the same way.

The point: this should be your goal whenever you look to create that game-changing piece of content.

It’s not just about playing on emotions. It’s not just about being memorable. It’s about changing peoples’ minds and making them act differently without fully being able to realize why. You won’t be able to do it for everyone. Keep in mind, for every one person (me) who got the movie, there were three others (my friends) who went to school the next day touting over-emphasized Boston accents. But for that one person, it’s so worth it to strive for this goal even beyond a professional level.

Here is a good example. It’s not nearly as heavy as the scenario I just dropped, but nevertheless touches on the same principles. As someone who has a general disdain for television ads, this State Farm commercial for life insurance actually got me thinking about something most people my age don’t. Sometimes it’s a two-hour long movie. Sometimes it’s a 30-second spot:

View on the video on YouTube.

Find ways to make people think differently about the world around them, or maybe even the world in general, and they’ll never forget about you or your brand. We always talk about value-add content. There’s nothing more valuable than helping someone discover something new about themselves.