Danielle Hannah is a journalist, author, ethologist and inventor. On top of owning her own business, she hones her mobile storytelling skills as a news reporter, shooting many of her stories using an iPhone! When she invented Mantra Magnets and needed a commercial, she took on the challenge of shooting one herself. Here’s the story behind her smartphone-shot commercial.
MMM: What led you to inventing Mantra Magnets.
Hannah : I saw many people suffering from anxiety and turning to prescriptions, which didn’t solve the problem. I started researching vibrations as a means to harness mindfulness. When you can center your thoughts and focus on the sensation of the vibrations, the anxiety just melts away. It’s a kind of meditation that leads to calmness. In my research I found there was nothing like Mantra Magnets out there, so I invented the product.
MMM: Did you have a technical background?
Hannah : No. I learned by watching a ton of YouTube videos and reading a lot of articles. I taught myself about circuits and jewelry at the same time. I went through several prototypes that looked nothing like the finished product. I just kept tinkering until I got it right. Then, I had to research manufacturers so that I could make the finished product affordable. I use Alibaba to order the parts I need.
MMM: The story of Mantra Magnets could make a fascinating documentary in itself, but let’s turn to making the commercial. What was your crew like?
Hannah : It consisted of one person: me. I handled all aspects of the production. I wrote the script and cast the talent using my family and friends as the actors and narrator. I shot it all on my iPhone 6s.
MMM: What about editing?
Hannah : I used Edius. That’s my favorite editing program because it’s quick and has some great transitions for switching between scenes.
MMM: How long did the production take?
Hannah : About four days to film and three to edit.
MMM: Did you encounter problems along the way?
Hannah : Sure. For example, sometimes I couldn’t get shots that I initially had in the script. Mobile moviemaking requires flexibility. I had to adjust the script so that the commercial would still look professional despite being on a very limited budget.
MMM: What advice do you have for people working on their first commercials?
Hannah : I recommend first watching consumer news pieces on television.
MMM: Why not study commercials since that’s the genre we’re talking about?
Hannah : It’s strange, I know, but hear me out. Corporate commercials are made with big budgets and large crews. They can take months to film. Small businesses owners don’t have such resources. But with a TV news consumer piece, the reporter often has to put it together the same day, with a tiny crew and limited resources. So that kind of production will give you a better model for making a low-budget commercial.
MMM: What if there’s a technical task the novice commercial maker doesn’t have time to master, for example, editing or creating music?
Hannah : I’d start by looking to friends or family members. Beyond your immediate circle, fiverr.com is a great resource. You can hire freelancers through the website, sometimes for as low as $5. To get quality work, it’s important to pay attention to the user reviews. Look for someone with nearly all 5 star reviews.
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For more on this subject see 10 Tips for Making a Low-Budget Commercial.