This week, we spoke to Fara Mohri and Max Willey, who own Oslo-based video production company Mohri Films. They focus on creating video marketing campaigns for companies, including explainer videos, presentations and social media content.
About Mohri Films
Mohri Films is a video production company based in Oslo, Norway that creates inspiring and targeted videos for social media. They explain, “We focus on good storytelling, which is what we put most of our time and effort into. We produce short advertisements, between 20 seconds to 3 minutes, for different social media platforms. We also create promo videos, event films and explainers.” They’ve been making films for five years, but producer and editor Fara explains that it’s been a life-long passion:
“I have always been a very visual person with a strong imagination. Creating stories has always been my dream. Ever since I was a little girl I have always been fascinated by ads with stories. Whenever I heard a song whether on the radio during our family road trips, on the TV or my CD player, I used to imagine a story for them. I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker from an early stage so what I needed was an education in film. I got my bachelor in Media and communication studies with specialization in film and visual communication at Oslo University College and in my second year of studies I started my own company, Mohri Films, together with my best friend Max.”
Videographer and writer Max shares a similar story:
“I have been involved in making films since I was 5 years old. Cinema has been a centre point in my family. My mother studied Film Production at the University of Salt Lake City Utah and my father loves obscure, B-movie classics. Combined, I was always surrounded by film. I started taking film production seriously in high school when I joined my school’s television production course. It wasn’t until the last 2.5 years I started to get serious about doing it professionally. I decided to get my education in Media and Communications at the Oslo University College which is where I began working with my very close friend Fara.”
Of course, that’s not to say that the learning process doesn’t continue. But that’s one of Max and Fara’s favourite things about working in film production:
“Our favourite projects are any where we get to learn something new, whether it’s a new piece of equipment or lighting technique. One of our favourite projects is the architectural video at the Oslo Opera House, which went viral. We were using the DJI Ronin M for the first time to film inside the main concert hall and it helped us get some smooth shots. It gave us the flexibility to capture the true nature of the building’s edges and curves. We also got some breathtaking twilight shots. That said, even though we like this video, our favourite will always change. It’s always the project where we feel we learned something new and elevated our skills. Those types of projects might be challenging at first but, once completed, they act as a new technical and creative standard to build upon.”
“We also really enjoyed working on a commercial for the only gourmet food hall in Oslo, Mathallen. This was a creative passion project, inspired by Monocle Magazine’s travel videos and Gestalten TV. We chose five establishments at Mathallen, which represented food from five different countries to show the versatility of food in Oslo.”
Together, Fara and Max worked on all aspects of the Mathallen video – writing, videography, voiceover work, editing and post-production.
How do you get inspired and what are your top tips for other creatives?
“For inspiration, nature is our best friend. Every time we feel stagnant, we take a short trip even if it’s just a stroll down one of Oslo’s hiking trails. We also watch a lot of different commercials. Every time we see something cool, we tag each other in the video to get inspired. We have amassed a collection of unique videos and commercials that we watch in order to learn from. Finally, we attend as many networking and film events as we can because interesting people are everywhere and they could be the a great source of inspiration.
“You have to know the basics, practice them often and master them in order to become creative. Not understanding the basics will trip up your whole production and you will always fall short of your potential. You will be left scratching your head wondering why things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.
“Go out there and make your own passion projects however you like. It is easy to get stuck in boring simple projects just because you want to get paid. If you are a freelancer, you have a lot of time on your hands, so there is room to create what you like on the side. But never work free for a client! The only time you should work for free is on your own creative projects. Don’t fall into the trap of doing projects just to fill your portfolio. Time is gold. Maintain a high standard for your projects from the start. That way you will always be proud of the things you make and want to do better next time.
“You also need dedication and patience. This industry isn’t easy and it takes time to get good. Be a social butterfly and get out there. An assignment won’t just fall into your lap if you don’t talk to potential clients and advertise yourself. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk.”
The above is Mohri Films’ commercial for Bad Norwegian, a premium skin care line made specifically for men. Castilñano Simoons, Creative Manager at Bad Norwegian commented:
“I had the pleasure of working with Mohri Films in autumn 2015 and they were very professional in their appearance. The task was to create a commercial about Bad Norwegian, which they executed very well by coming with good input and solutions. We are extremely pleased with the end results, and have uploaded the commercial on our channels and have received good feedback. We will call them again for future assignments.”
What’s it like freelancing as filmmakers?
Fara and Max point out that clients can have misconceptions about filmmaking: “One misconception clients have is underestimating the effort and time it takes to produce a quality video. We had one client who thought that filming for a Nespresso training video would take 45 minutes. Others believe that editing is simply placing the video on a track and slapping appropriate music on it. Another misconception is that some people see video production solely as a hobby and do not consider paying very much or at all. What is most important for beginner freelancers is to find industry standard prices and know what your primary products will cost. You need to know what price you would not get out of bed for. Know your worth and don’t compromise. Some clients act like they have the right to treat freelancers unprofessionally.”
But they’ve got some advice on what makes a good client (and what makes for a bad client): “Clients need to be very concrete about their input and feedback throughout the entire project. This is especially true in the corrections phase. Editing is precise work; the more specific the feedback, the quicker the corrections take thus saving time.
“Our best customer experiences have been with people who have trust in our work and skills, who had consistent and clear communication and who paid us fairly. On the other hand, our worst customer experiences have been with people who tried to verbally or psychologically manipulate us, who paid us very poorly for a large project or treated us like indentured servants. For example, one client demanded changes on a spec project (which we were dumb enough to say yes to in the first place) at 11pm on a Sunday night. This would have required us to work through the late hours of Sunday and into Monday morning. We placed firm boundaries with this client and made it clear how we wanted to be treated.”
Can you tell me a bit about your creative process?
“Idea development is where the client comes to us with their idea or we help them develop one. Our most important job is to understand what their specific needs and goals are. We are not only producers but consultants who are trained and educated in developing the idea until it is an achievable and appropriate plan. Once the idea has taken shape, we begin the first phase of production. During pre-production, we write the script, we draw the storyboard and we find the best locations possible. This ensures the actual filming goes as smoothly as possible, which saves time, money and precious mental energy. Production is when all the hard work of the two previous stages is finally brought to life. If we did our job well in the first two phases, Murphy’s Law should be at a minimum. Once we’ve filmed the necessary footage, we begin cutting. This is the phase in which the story in your idea is constructed. Every step in this phase from arranging the clips all the way to selecting the music, helps in creating a compelling and impactful product.”
Again, a strong client-freelancer relationship is essential for things to go smoothly. Mohri Studios point out that, “if everything is planned properly from both our side and the client’s”, they normally only need to do 2 versions (rather than many many different edits.)
Judging by their work, it seems they’ve got the process pretty down – and their clients agree too. The above was filmed at a skyscraper social for international award winning entrepreneur, speaker and author Rahfeal Gordon’s book signing. He gave a rave review: “There are two things that I love at the same time. And those two things are Quality and Creativity. Mohri Films truly embodied both of those things in their work. I have worked with many film companies over the years and I have no doubt that Mohri Films will eventually be the most talked about film company around the globe. If you are looking for a creative team who knows nothing less than quality, MOHRI FILMS is the best choice!”
Similarly, Karen Floyd, founder and director of Symmetry PR commented:
“I recommend Mohri Films to anyone looking for film, whether it’s corporate promotion, a commercial, a short film or a special occasion – weddings, confirmations, birthday parties, etc. Fara and Max love what they do and their love really shines through their work. They are true professionals, passionate, creative, respectful, reliable, great fun, efficient, they pay great attention to detail and make a super talented team.”
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