The Edge Picture Company is arguably the most influential production house of the past decade. Ranked top of the Televisual Corporate 50 for 17 consecutive years by their peers, they’ve won more awards than any other brand film specialist.
What makes them different?
‘We fight on behalf of the audience,’ says founder Phil Blundell. ‘Audiences have many options, so we put ourselves in the shoes of the recipient. At the start of the whole process we grill the commissioner in terms of what change they want a film to elicit.’
Putting the viewer in the driving seat has led inevitably to an emphasis on quality content. ‘We take content and ask where the story is, what makes it human,’ adds Phil’s fellow Director, Pete Stevenson. ‘At the same time there is a relentless focus on the psychology of film – films work in a similar way to dreams and memory.’
What has changed?
Fundamentally this approach is the same as when the company was set up in 1991, but industry conditions have evolved. Firstly, there’s the questions of what to call this stuff.
The word ‘video’ came out of a technology and doesn’t have much of a role in modern communications, they argue. Instead, The Edge are one of many practitioners who now think in terms of moving image content.
Secondly, during the early years of The Edge, video (as was) was perceived to be a luxury. It was an early victim of budget cuts in a downturn because there was no real measurement. Now, it’s a measurable, results-driven, essential.
Thirdly, the challenge used to be to produce moving image content. It was difficult, specialised and expensive. Now, the challenge is making moving image content that stands out from the morass of stuff that’s out there.
‘I once had an extended conversation with Nortel, who said we produce 2,000 hours of video content a year but no-one is watching it. Those two statements are not unconnected,’ says Stevenson. The biggest evolution is to find where people will invest in really sharp, intelligent content that’s going to shift the dial.
Making it easy
If high standards sound daunting in the real world of corporate communications, The Edge aim to make it easier. Comms professionals often want to be different and brave, but their enthusiasm can get diluted by risk-aversity in their organisation. By being radical, by thinking about the psychology of creative storytelling, The Edge challenge organisations to think more creatively and strategically – and get better results.
Influence is hard to win and easy to lose. The world is drowning in content, in-house teams increasingly produce high volumes, and every agency now claims expertise in film – whether or not it’s true. Where will the pedigree of The Edge fit over the next decade?
‘The challenge to carve out a position has never been greater,’ says Stevenson. ‘We’re not just about the really big stuff, we also focus on quick turn-around projects and short-form for social platforms. It’s difficult for an in-house unit that’s set up to tackle the volume requirement to keep fresh and creative. The clients who are doing it well still work with external agencies.’
They already provide setup and training modules for brands to manage user-generated content successfully, and deep analysis of usage data with specialist partners is a fundamental part of their offering.
So the service is evolving with the market, enabling comms professionals to get volume and quality baked into their strategy.
But don’t expect them to stop winning awards any time soon.
The Edge are featured in Moving Image Directory, the unique invitation-only list of verified brand film specialists.