Digital Innovation and the Art of Storytelling

ANASTASIA FAI, a media industry entrepreneur who founded the video production agency Style & Image, is the creative force behind an interesting new video approach to property marketing. The short film ‘Sunday Blue’, produced for Besser & Co, showcases a day in the life of a listing at 4/24 Hyslop Parade, East Malvern, in Melbourne. We caught up with Anastasia to chat about her innovative approach, which also included casting one of the girls from SketchSHE in a lead acting role.

Working with a lot of creatives in both the music and fashion industries, Anastasia noticed a ‘template’ approach to real estate videos which included a videographer, a few hands and an agent talking to camera. But noticing ‘everything had started looking the same’, and ‘was no longer interesting’, she decided to try a different approach with forward thinking client Besser & Co.

The impact of Anastasia’s video, which was showcased on Facebook, led to an auction turnout that was 71 per cent higher than the Besser & Co average for the last three months, garnering 11,000 views (over seven times the average) and generating 10 times more enquiries than usual – a great result.

Can you give us some background to this video?
I had this idea of looking at what tech leaders like Apple and Qantas are doing. They’re moving towards a lot more of a narrative style of short-film video that connects with viewers on an emotive level. And I figured ‘why not the real estate industry?’ So I approached a few real estate agencies and eventually formed a partnership with Besser & Co.

I’d done maybe 10 videos for them before we moved into this, mostly similar to the industry standard. But my approach has always been ‘what’s the value it adds to the viewer experience?’ It has to be of good quality. The sound has to be good. The light has to be good. Think about the person who is going to be watching it. A lot of the advice given to Besser & Co showed how they could improve customer engagement, and from there they were a lot more comfortable doing this creative project.

The film showed a story that almost had a Neighbours-like feel to it. How did you come up with the concept?

After Besser & Co came on board I went to about five inspections. Eventually, we found a house they thought might be suitable. I went in. I spent maybe five minutes before something came to mind. What I wanted to do was showcase all these different areas in the house that I wanted people to see and feel. See how it would feel to work from home, or to entertain, or to walk the dog, or to be on the veranda. Shop in the local shops. So we created a story around that.

This one, I wanted it to be a bit more of a romantic comedy style, so the girl that’s playing the main part, she’s a comedian from SketchSHE, the group that do the car miming videos.

Are there specific types of property that suit this sort of approach?
It’s probably not cost-effective for $200,000 apartments; the ideal property would likely be $800,000 and up. However, every property has a story to tell. The purpose of this sort of treatment is to showcase how you can make a home in this place.

The other day, we were doing something else for just these two small apartments next to each other, and I thought “wow, you could totally have a story of a boy living in one, and a girl living in one, and bumping into each other all the time, and them being together or something like that.” So in some cases, the narrative kind of jumps at you. And I think every property has a story to tell.

The purpose of doing this is always to show the light, and the positivity, and how you can make a home.

If you wanted to do something like this, what’s the budget?
For anyone planning their marketing budget, around $10,000 would be a good number to have in mind. But if you have some talented folk who can help you out, I’m sure you could do it for a lot less than that. It really depends on the team, and what you want to achieve as well. Showcasing a mansion with a big family and pets will obviously cost more. There are challenges; you have to be cost conscious. In this case, I felt that a cast of three characters showing each part of the house was more than enough.

How long does the process take?
Just one day’s filming and a couple of days for editing. Then there’s client feedback and preparation in terms of getting it right for the websites. Within two weeks from the day we shot it, it was live. I know a lot of people who are not familiar with the process might think it was scary and it’s going to take a long time and a lot of people, but that isn’t the case.

So what’s next? Is real estate going to be a focus area for you?
Absolutely. It’s always great to challenge the status quo. Besser & Co were so happy with the result that we’re looking into doing another project like this. On a very, very, very nice property. Steve Mallach

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