“Words are really beautiful, but they're limited. Words are very male, very structured. But the voice is the netherworld, the darkness, where there's nothing to hang onto. The voice comes from a part of you that just knows and expresses and is.”

                                                                                                                                    -Jeff Buckley

 I run the video department here at Elevate and have been making commercials and videos in some capacity for almost 10 years.  I’ve worked with startups, non-profits, big corporations, and even family members.  No matter where I go or what I work on, there is almost always one common thread, “virality”. People want to be known and they want to be paid attention to.

Unfortunately there is no formula for virality and anyone who is telling you otherwise is lying to you.  Yes, there are things you can do to boost your content and there are ways to use data to better understand where your audience is, but at the end of the day it all comes down to one thing: “voice”.

Are you bringing something unique to the table?  Are you creating something new or are you just creating a cheaper version of something that already exists?

To reinforce this point, I have created a list of my personal top 5 favorite “voices”.  People that understand how it is that they create, and do so with continued excellence.

1.     Casey Neistat 


-Casey Neistat is in large part the reason I make videos today. His hand-made, family movie style videos took away my excuses (no money, no equipment) and forced me to learn to problem solve and to make things the way that feels natural to me.

2.     Wes Anderson 


-Wes Anderson is one of the last remaining auteurs, a term which is ascribed to directors who are deeply involved in every aspect of the making of a film. He writes, directs, produces, edits, you name it.  His quirky artist style bleeds through in every frame and line of dialogue, and his movies are among my favorites because of it.

3.     Tina Fey (http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/tina-fey-episode-trailer)

-I thought she was funny on SNL, then she made 30 Rock and blew my mind.  Her dry sense of humor, comedic timing, and willingness to just be herself sets her apart from so many people.  30 Rock is a great example of someone telling a story that they know how to tell. She made a show out of what she knew and it resulted in 103 Emmy nominations.

4.     Jon Bellion 


-This is a guy whose drive to create seems to inspire everyone around him.  He’s written hit songs like Eminem’s “Monster”, and Jason DeRulo’s “Trumpets” but his real voice is found in his own albums.  He’s manages to mix digital elements with his classical understanding of music and the result is something new and captivating.

5.     Stuart McLean 


-Stuart McLean is easily the least known person on this list and just as easily my favorite. He ran a radio show called The Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio in Canada which was also played on NPR. The show revolved around a fictional husband and wife (Dave and Morely) and their lives in a small town in Canada. Sadly he passed away this past February, but I will never forget his ability to take a simple story and tell it in a way that moved my heart.

The lesson from all of this, and one that I am continually learning myself is this: Make the thing that only you can make.  If another company makes a commercial that you love, great!  Learn from it, let it inspire you, and then go make something new…something great.