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Learn for the Shawshank Redemption

Feb 28, 2021

... and make better videos

How is it possible that a film that runs two hours and 22 minutes long can get me to stop, to watch, listen and forget time even if I've watched this film maybe six or seven times before, but a business video that I'm seeing for the first time can bore me in seconds?

And today yes, I am using the Shawshank Redemption for ideas on how you can make your business films even better. 


I use the phrase business films because film suggests a little bit more crafting than business video. Now I'm not saying you need to shoot your business videos with film, just have the mindset of a filmmaker when you make it.

The Shawshank Redemption, made in 1994, runs two hours 22 minutes and is the story of Andy Dupret, who was convicted of murdering his wife and his wife's lover in cold blood and sentenced to two life sentences in prison. The film follows his journey through the abuse, horrors, and his never-ending belief that he was innocent and he would get out.

We love Morgan Freeman

The story thread was beautifully narrated by Morgan Freeman, one of his fellow inmates. Now, this film has won the award for best film of all time year after year after year and it has a really strong purpose.


I am sure if you watched The Shawshank Redemption consciously, you would be thinking things around the subject of:

"How the institute institutionalization of prisons contradicts the actual purpose of prisons"

That was the film's purpose and I am sure that at the end of the film you would be thinking "if prisons like that is it actually serving its purpose?".

The purpose of the film is designed to touch you at a deeper level, draw you in you and get you thinking. When you throw in that emotion of fury, anger, and frustration you feel for Andy at the injustice of his situation you are even more drawn in.

Emotion is a really important thing to have in your business films. Just giving facts is BORING and people will find it difficult to remember what you are saying.

Let's say you're doing a film about whether the institutionalization of prisoners actually works and then go and give your six facts why it doesn't, there is no connection with the audience.

People might hear what you are saying but they won't remember it because it's just information.

So consider the purpose of your films and try to create some emotional connection with your audience.


There was a very strong theme throughout the film as well, and that theme was all about hope. 

Andy never gave up hope that he would get out of prison and that theme helps to heighten the emotion.

You are drawn in with all the terrible things going on in the prison, you think "how could he not give up?" which makes you even more on his side.

So you need a strong theme for your business films.


And then there's this wonderful story thread narrated by Morgan Freeman. You need a thread in your business films to carry your audience through to the end. 

What to think about when making business films

I want you to think about the purpose of your films... What do you want people to think when they've finished watching your film?

For me the purpose of this film/blog is I want you to think more deeply before you shoot your videos, so you can make them better and get better results.

The next thing you need to think about is your theme. My theme here is to suggest that business videos can be captivating, that they don't need to be boring. 

And the thread. I set up this video by saying it was going to be about comparing what happens in films with business videos, and that thread ran through all the different ideas.

What's your thread?

There's one more thing to think about

I'd like you to channel your inner Morgan Freeman when you are making your films! Morgan has such a natural, easy, relaxed yet authoritative presence. He doesn't need to shout, he doesn't need to lecture, he doesn't need to push his ideas, he just is, and he's extremely engaging. When he talks people lean forward and listen, and that's what I'd like you to do. I would like you to channel your inner Morgan Freeman next time you make a video because if you talk slower if you talk calmer if you talk with authority people will sit forward and listen.

Hopefully, those few ideas when comparing a fantastic film with how you can use those skills and techniques in making your business videos or films will help make a difference to your next film that you make.

Good luck and if you need any help along the way well you know where I am.