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British-Chinese director, producer and videographer Tom Edwards, renowned for working with some of the world’s biggest music stars and global brands, has been successfully using his extensive skills from the film industry to help boost branded content across different media platforms.
Based in Los Angeles, Edwards has not only worked with the likes of multi-award winning rap artist Cardi B, best-selling Latin popstar Enrique Iglesias and Moroccan-born rapper French Montana, but also with the likes of uber-sports brand, Lamborghini, and more recently the inspirational men’s lifestyle platform, MenWithClass.
“When developing branded content, it’s all about marketing; we focus on capturing the values of a brand, creating conversation and sparking new interest,” said Edwards, about the work his production company, Secret Film Service (SFS), does.
“Instead of trying to sell the consumer a product, we want to encapsulate an experience associated with the brand, to evoke emotion and use a story to entice the viewer.”
Edwards, himself a fan of MenWithClass, entrepreneurially approached the lifestyle portal, which has more than 5 million followers on Instagram, and 11 million followers online, about a potential collaboration with SFS, and Daniel Frank, the founder of MenWithClass, responded positively.
“The reason why people need branded content is it can help promote traffic and attract new leads,” said Edwards, who has worked on branded content with Lamborghini in Vancouver, Canada, and on projects for the likes of VEM Exotic Rentals, Interior Pixels and Shaolin Worldwide, in Los Angeles.
“Daniel came to me with the idea that they wanted to include more video content on their page, so we came to an agreement to look for luxury hotels and resorts to work with”.
Edwards’ approach to branded content at SFS is to develop a treatment for the video, that includes a moodboard, visual style and shot list. The SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, which underwent a $22 million renovation in 2018 and has been described by Conde Nast Traveler as a “LA hotspot that rockets guests into the future,” agreed to be featured on MenWithClass, as conceived by Edwards.
With décor designed by the iconic 72-year old French industrial designer, Philippe Starck, the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hill is also home to the Spanish-tapas themed Bazaar restaurant, which Conde Nast Traveler said has propelled SLS to be “a hotspot for trend-followers and foodies in the know” and which is by the world-class Spanish-American chef, José Andrés, who was featured in TIME’s Most Influential People in 2012 and 2018.
Chef Andrés at Bazaar has used the concept of molecular gastronomy specifically to create the Gate Bar Cento experience, whereby traditional Spanish flavours are re-imagined using a variety of culinary techniques, so that each dish becomes a work of art, and each bite tailored for the taste buds.
“We produced a one-minute video highlighting this unique experience, from the tasteful drinks to the unique appetisers,” said Edwards, about his experience filming at Bazaar, which has a sister restaurant in Miami Beach.
Edwards, who conceptualised, shot and edited the showcase piece on the SLS Hotel for MenWithClass, was rewarded with seeing the success of the piece, which garnered over 350,000 impressions online, with more than 75,000 on Instagram alone, leading to more productions with MenWithClass in 2022, and potentially a new limited series.
“Tom did an amazing job coordinating the shoot and putting together a cinematic piece of the experience,” said Daniel Frank, founder of MenWithClass which is based in Sweden. “He is a highly skilled individual and always brings a great attitude to the work that he does.”
This October, Edwards also worked as one of the core editors for “We Built This,” a series celebrating black female-owned brands for the global beauty brand, Sephora, created by Hillman Grad Productions, the production shingle co-founded by Emmy-award winning writer, Lena Waithe. Also in the fashion online space, he has worked with Tik Tok’s top influence Pretty Little Things which has 1.8 million fans, and FashionNova for Instagram, which has 20.7 million fans.
By starting SFS in 2019 as a behind-the-scenes (BTS) production entity, Edwards has masterfully discovered a niche in the film and TV industry that has not only allowed him to work with some of the world’s biggest brands, but has genuine potential to scale.
“Los Angeles is probably one of the most highly saturated places to start a film production company; going in, I knew that it was important to offer something a little bit more unique, ” said Edwards, who trained at the New York Film Academy, with further studies in directing at UCLA.
“Nowadays, more businesses, labels, and production companies are starting to warm up to BTS content; they have started to utilize the content as an additional marketing resource, giving an insight to the crew and actors.”
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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