4 video production lessons from Bo Burnham's new Netflix special ‘Inside’

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Author: Matt Jasper
Date: June 11, 2021

If you're a comedy schmuck, a musical savant, or simply bombarded with Netflix ads, you'll know Bo Burnham's latest special 'Inside' was just released. His latest special features the usual genius and wit you've come to know, and the depressing self-awareness that makes him such a unique performer. 

But what truly makes this show stand out is the format of the special; written and directed entirely by Burnham himself, filmed exclusively inside his small apartment. With no crew, Burnham uses the special to show just how much equipment and effort is involved in producing a full Netflix show, with frequent shots of his messy apartment and his seeming mountain of equipment. 

By getting real about getting creative, Bo gives us insight into some key elements of video productions. Working in COVID has meant this highly-successful director has had to strip his work down to its core, making the most of his limited resources and examining the many ways equipment and creativity can drive a production. So, here are 4 lessons from Bo Burnham’s new Netflix special to keep in mind for your next video production.

  1. Make the most of what you have

Understanding what you have to work with and making the most of it is a crucial tenet of not just video production, but all content creation. For Bo, like many of us, that meant working from home, without the usual assistance of a crew or manager to help the project along. Instead, he used the space and equipment available to him - and still turned out an entire Netflix production. This is the mark of any serious video production team, who make the most with the resources at their disposal. 

Sure, paying extra for a big money shoot is nice - but it ultimately comes down to what you do with that money. Work with people who know what they’re doing and understand your film’s vision. Use equipment that is reliable and does the basics well. Keeping it clear and simple is always a good place to start.

  1. Trust your vision

Once it's all stripped back, video production is based on one thing - a vision. Making sure to keep your vision clear, and to stay true to it as best you can, is a simple but helpful way to focus on creating a clear message and hitting the right audience. Bo Burnham is no stranger to a unique vision, but his latest show deliberately spaces himself from his audience in an unsettling way. It's a big risk, but it pays off due to the fact that Bo sticks with what he wants from his production, and trusts his own vision. It’s a confronting vision at times, but it strikes with his audience.

Remember that the most important asset your video production has is yourself. Your vision and your ideas are what sets your story apart from the rest. Whether you’re looking to showcase a product, demonstrate a service, or entertain as large an audience as possible, keeping your vision strong will ensure your tone, angles, sound, lighting and other crucial production features work together.

  1. Embrace the effort

There's a good contingent of people out there who want to make video production not only look slick and easy, but pretend it's a slick and easy thing to make. But producing quality video content takes time, effort and dedication. Bo turned his struggle to physically create into a part of his story, and demonstrated the dedication it took for him to finish his project. It’s a reminder that, in the world of social media, showing the true effort involved in making a project cuts through to the audience. That means researching what you need for your shoot, communicating your vision, and taking no shame in the hours put into creating your content. 

That doesn’t mean you have to be struggling over content for weeks to be proud of it; just that there’s no shame in acknowledging the effort put in. And if you are working with other people, making sure to recognise the work they put in is crucial too. Respecting the efforts of your team helps keep a happy crew – and a happy final film.

  1. Creativity from ideas, not equipment

So you’re stuck in a small apartment, having already performed on some of the massive stages with large teams, and having already directed a major critically-acclaimed film. How can you possibly create a work in line with your previous efforts? This, sadly, is a question many producers have had to ask in the age of COVID and Zooms. Everyone, from big-time Hollywood producers to small-time indie videographers have had to reevaluate their services in in the last year. Luckily for us, this year has also seen some of the most creative works to come from artists; new online installations, collaborative online productions, people continue to create.

It’s a reminder that creativity comes from the ideas we have, and not just the traditional allowances of crews and equipment. While relying on your ideas to carry a production is daunting, it underscores the entire video, and is often what the audience – rather than you or other videographers – will take note of. Sets and costumes are great, and expensive set-ups are fantastic ways to complement your shoot, but they’re pointless without the ideas to carry them. Focus on these ideas, and you might find that you don’t need a HD projector or green screen to showcase your ideas.

If you want to apply any of these lessons to your next video project, give us a call on 1800 JASPER or have a look at the EOFY packages we offer to see if these may work for you!

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