Flip The Switch

British Columbia. Just Georgia Astle and her bike. Exploring terrain that pushes her freeriding skills. Epic.

Here’s how the video gets our blood pumping:

  • It’s inspiring: Georgia Astle is no ninny. From the get-go she’s awesomely solo in the wild. We bet everyone who watches this wants to jump on their bike.
  • It flows: from the opening until the end. So well done. Lovely music, scenic shoots cut to the beat, and then a match frame sequence of her bike coming off the truck. If there’s one thing blows our hair back, it’s a match cut.
  • It transports us: not only to another place, but to another pace. It’s the great outdoors in all its glory, and the pace is slowwwwed riiiight dowwwwn so that we have the time to really see, to appreciate. We’re talking about extreme slow motion shots. Tyres skid and dirt is kicked up at over 120 frames per second.
  • It shifts perspective: Talk about a case study for the use of drones! Aerial shots offer a perspective that you just can’t get from the ground. It’s also about flipping focus: like how the million to-do lists fly out the window when you’re in the zone.
  • There’s zero hype: Yes, she’s fast but she isn’t furious. No commentators. No dialogue. No percussion and trumpets. Just her story, quietly told. With spaces between. Slow enough to take it all in. Which we like.

We’re so pleased there’s a film like this to celebrate someone like Georgia. Hats off to Scott Secco the producer, director, cinematographer and editor. Nicely done.


When the dad bod steals the spotlight

Twenty-eight million people (and counting) have watched the original video by Dollar Shave Club, but this is not about that video. This is another of their greats. We think it deserves its own recognition.

  • It’s honest: there’s a clear objective – sell more razors for Father’s Day. We like it when a video has a defined purpose. One should form the backbone of any distribution strategy.
  • It celebrates real people: as a Dad myself, I relate! People really aren’t celebrating the dad bod. The video uses comedy to broach a slightly embarrassing topic. The tone is just right; silly but stylish. (And maybe even sexy. Yes, I have this on good authority.)
  • It sets the scene: I really like the opening, with the text definition of It’s classy and dictionary serious . . . until it isn’t. The staging is really well done, with great use of studio lighting to reveal people at specific times.
  • It has energy: from the catchy music with its relevant lyrics to the cleverly choreographed Bollywood dancing, the video has you nodding along – and that’s the sign of an engaged audience who is going to watch right to the end.
  • It embraces diversity: The actors they use are fab. For a video that is all about celebrating diversity and different body types, they nailed it with their choice of talent.

The video is so silly it’s serious. This is a quality production for a brand that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously. A nice touch is at the end where the cast all burst into laughter. Rightly so, it’s so absurd and wonderful.

Well, this is awkward

We came across this made-by-Google vid about the new Pixel Buds 2. Full disclosure: I’m an Apple fanboy . . . but I’m also a filmmaker. I must be honest, I was unwillingly willing to give it any attention.

Yet here we are.

We’re super impressed by this video. Besides being beautiful work, it effortlessly achieves the 5 pillars of powerful promotion. Attention. Authority. Trust. Engagement. Conversion.

Here’s how:

  • It invites attention: Opening shots don’t contain any people – just empty environments. This is a lovely scene setter that lets the audience focus on exactly what the narrator is saying.
  • It walks the talk: Right off the bat, the music and sound effects are fantastic. You’d expect this considering the video is about ear buds, but even so, lovely work.
  • It’s honest: They include the producer asking the question, “Is it possible to do this in a 2 minute video?” And then a lovely response from the interviewee saying, “I don’t think so.” It’s a really nice technique that makes the audience trust the content.
  • It gives proof: There is a section where someone is listing all the things they have done to stress test the product. The point they’re making is it’s a long list, and they did this by mixing and overlapping his words as he lists things. It works really well.
  • It’s inclusive: There are lots of nice hero shots, where each new person we hear speaking is seen looking down the lens smiling. Much nicer to just hear the people rather than see them in a formal interview.
  • It’s relatable: One of the people compares her pregnancy to the product development (in terms of time frame). It’s a great soundbite, and it’s good to have some human content and bring in personal lives.
  • And then there’s the unexpected: They have applied a nice vintage video effect to certain scenes that show the product being used. I wasn’t sure about this at first, but after a second viewing, we all agreed it grew on us.

This puts me in an unpleasantly pleasant place. Watching this vid makes me want to ditch the AirPods and give Google a go.

Watch how to watch out when selling your watch

Professionalism, confidence, and trust: it’s what you deserve, according to The Watch Standard. Then they take 35 seconds to lay out how their service works – and we’re happy to give them the time.

  • It’s animation for grown-ups: people often think of animation as being silly and cartoonlike, but this video shows how it can be classy.
  • It’s stylish: the overall package – from the illustration style to timings, music, and voice-over – is sophisticated, just like the exquisite timepieces they buy and the people they buy them from.
  • It’s got character: we like the understated character designs, using silhouettes to disguise any specific features. Clearly, this brand isn’t brash or in-your-face (!).
  • It’s quick: our time is precious, and they don’t waste it. Respect. It’s really short yet still contains all the necessary information and an explanation of how it works.
  • It’s clever: That jittery look at the start? It’s done on purpose. They’ve used a slower frame rate effect. Some people like it, others don’t. Personally, we think it works well as a storytelling device. Nervous about selling your watch? By the end of the video, it’s all plain sailing.

Yes, this one’s worth a watch.

We still love to ship our pants

This week we are reviewing old videos that make us smile and we are still taking inspiration from KMART’s Ship My Pants commercial from almost a decade ago.


There is no doubt that this is highly shareable content. It’s a clever concept, a beautiful script and a really simple video. But what really makes it successful is the casting and delivery by the actors. It’s a great reminder of why we recommend that clients spend as much as they can budget on talent.

We love the simplicity: the hand-held camera style suits the quick pace; there is no music, just dialogue.

And because we are all about content with a purpose we love that it has a really clear call to action. So even though the concept is surreal, the audience is left in no doubt about what to do.

Bravo KMART.


This video about rice got us all emotional

As you know, at TopLine Film we gave up most of our hobbies to dedicate our free time to scouring the internet for beautiful, powerful videos to inspire us, spark our creativity and generally entertain us. But nothing quite prepared us for this video about…rice.

Here’s what we loved about this promo for Andy’s Charleston Gold Rice:

  • It’s beautiful: this video contains lovely shots and is very cinematic.
  • It’s credible: the interviews have been done well. The interviewees appear to be speaking from the heart – they aren’t being forced to say anything. They really believe what they are saying.
  • It tells a story: this video illustrates the farm to plate story very well, even showing how they cook the rice in their restaurant. This breaks the story up nicely, giving it a bit of unique flavour (!).
  • It uses drones the right way: we are all about content with a purpose here, and we often think the purpose of using drone footage is to showcase that the video production company has a drone. But in this instance, the use of drone is on point.
  • It achieves its purpose: the purpose of this video is almost certainly to leave the viewer wanting to try the rice – which is exactly how we felt after watching it.
We love this explainer that explains nothing

At TopLine Film, we are all about content with a purpose. We like to create videos to achieve a specific objective. And that objective is never to leave the viewer confused.  But we’re also fond of creative risk-taking, which is why we were happy to be left confused by this video:


It didn’t leave us wanting more. It left us entirely unsure of what we wanted. So we did what any self-respecting millennial would do: we put down our avocado toast and we googled “Hedvig” which immediately established that this is an insurance company. Not only did we google Hedvig, we also visited their website and then re-watched their videos. Bravo guys!


We suspect this video was shot on film – it looks that way, with its 1970’s vibe (are we right? We love being right). It has the target audience spot on. The deadpan comedy tone works so well. The casting is on point – the talent really makes this. The messaging is subtle in contrast to the brash style adopted by many insurance companies. This feels like the anti-insurance company.

Thanks for the creative inspiration Hedvig.

A review of Promo.com

You might be surprised to find that even as a high-end video production company, we welcomed the launch of Promo.com, a cheap, fast-turnaround, do-it-yourself video making platform. That’s because we know that there are many scenarios in which speed and budget are the priorities when it comes to producing video content.

Here at TopLine Film, we found ourselves in one of those very scenarios recently: we needed to explain our explainer animation offering to some of the other companies in our group so that they could keep us in mind for their own clients. Now even though we have animators, producers, sound designers and editors on staff, we didn’t want to use those valuable resources for a quick piece of internal content – so we decided to give Promo.com a go.

Our managing director, Jamie, got to work off a simple script we created together.

Here’s what he liked about Promo.com:

  • Offers quick turnaround videos that look impressive for the cost.
  • Requires no film-making skills.
  • An excellent place to produce social content and mass content – for regular, frequent campaigns.
  • Enables you to produce videos when you don’t have a huge amount of inspiration or many creative ideas.
  • There is plenty of stock footage to choose from.
  • The search functionality for stock footage is really good, returning a wide variety of accurate results.
  • Despite the frustrating user interface, the end results can be quite impressive.
  • You can make a video in less than an hour.
  • It’s pretty cheap for video production: £215 per month.

And here’s what he wasn’t so keen on:

  • You’re very limited in terms of the style of video – the Promo.com videos all use stock with typography.
  • I found the user interface clunky and not particularly intuitive – very frustrating for a Mac user.
  • The captions tool is quite limited, making it difficult to be creative with the wording.
  • You need to pay extra to have more than one brand template (colours and logos) for your videos.
  • The music filter is unhelpful – there is no option for filtering music without lyrics.

Overall, we were impressed by Promo.com and will keep using it for our own internal videos. Here’s an example of the one that we produced to showcase our explainer animation service to our team:


Our review of the Ocean Film Festival

Last night, we went on a maritime adventure to the furthest reaches of the ocean through the eyes of surfers, sailors, swimmers, and oceanographers – all without even getting our feet wet. The whole team was lucky enough to catch the Ocean Film Festival as it passed through London on its world tour. We watched nine captivating, ocean-themed social impact films in the incredible Grade I listed Union Chapel.

The festival, which is produced by the team behind the Banff Film Festival, features films from charity film production teams. The aim is to encourage viewers to “explore, respect, enjoy and protect our oceans.” That’s a goal we can get behind at TopLine, where we take sustainability very seriously. The movies highlight the incredible beauty of the natural world – from the quiet beauty inside waves to the vibrant cenotes of Mexico, and from South African penguins to polar bears – and how it’s our responsibility to protect it.

These films perfectly illustrated the potential of social impact films to champion a cause. Ranging from over 40 minutes to under five, each demonstrated different ways that visual storytelling can transport the viewer, stir emotion, and compel action.

So, what movies did we see, and what did the team think of them?

 A Place for Penguins

While popular perception points to penguins preferring the poles, penguins can in fact be found living off the coast of South Africa (perhaps our team in the Cape Town office can pay them a visit some time). However, overfishing means that their food supply is limited, and the colony needs to be relocated. This isn’t as easy as simply moving them, as penguins are reluctant to start new colonies, so conservationists and artists teamed up to make an ingenious plan. Using concrete decoys and recordings of penguins, they tried to trick penguins into believing there was a colony at the new site. Their work falls at the intersection “between science and art,” to quote one of the conservationists. Their passion is inspirational.

Without wanting to anthropomorphise the penguins too much, it’s hard not to relate when you see them carefully inspecting a sculpture and then waddling off, shaking their heads disapprovingly. If you want to enjoy a penguin playing sculpture critic, make sure you check out the movie below.

I Am Fragile

Despite patchy satellite access for drones and interference from the northern lights, Florian Ledoux filmed an incredible short about how the seasons affect the Arctic. As the spring and summer arrive, polar bears, seals, walruses, and narwhal take advantage of the warmer temperatures and ice-melt to eat for the tough winter season ahead. The images and drone-work are incredible. You can watch the full film below.

Manry at Sea

The longest movie of the evening was Manry at Sea, a documentary about a fairly average man, who stepped away from his wife, two children and his job as a copyeditor to set sail across the Atlantic. His ship, Tinkerbelle, is a jaunty red 13½ foot sailboat, closer in size to a toy than a real oceangoing vessel. Why? According to Manry, there comes a point where one must “risk everything to fulfil one’s dreams or sit for the rest of one’s life in the backyard.”

Despite hallucinations, storms, broken rudders, and “moments of depression”, Manry’s relentlessly positive attitude served him well on his journey. There’s much more to the story, but we don’t want to give it away, as the whole movie is well worth watching. Check out the trailer below.


In this movie, French photographer Ben Thouard reveals his technique for capturing dramatic and beautiful waves in Tahiti. Featuring slow motion underwater photo montages, we see waves from the inside, revealing incredible texture and shimmer which is a world apart from what we picture when we imagine waves. Ben explains that the compression of a wave as it passes over the reef means you can see the landscape through the wave. He’s only been able to capture this rare lensing effect a few times each year. We fully recommend watching this film – the images must be seen to be believed.

The Passage

This 24-minute long documentary covers the intergenerational story of a 1974 journey from Washington to Alaska by homemade canoe. The heart-warming tale covers how two brothers, and their now grown-up children, retrace the adventure. The director deftly uses close ups and Polaroid photo montages to give a real sense of intimacy. And the title is particularly apt – the story feels like a rite of passage for the two brothers as they make the same journey their parents did 40 years before. You can enjoy the full movie below.


The shortest film of the night was a wordless feature about man and nature. From a clifftop vantage point, we see artist Tony Plant try in vain to rake patterns into the sand. Every time he seemed to be making progress, the tide promptly erases his work. It’s a fun short, with a powerful message: nature can’t be tamed.


Emocean tells the tales of several families growing up around the ocean, through surf and dive footage. It serves as a reminder that nature can be dangerous and wild – with many of the subjects in recovery from injuries they got during their oceanic adventures. However, this hasn’t dampened their love of the ocean, which the film reinforces with wide landscape pans and beautiful footage of diverse marine life. It’s a fascinating story of loss, and the triumph of love, as injured former surfers return to the waves to be in the heart of the action once more. Check out the trailer below.

A Peace Within

Painting is already an impressive skill, but extreme artist Philip Gray is always looking for new ways to push the boundaries of his artform. In the short film A Peace Within, we follow Philip’s endeavours to capture Mexican cenotes – flooded inland caves – on canvas. It’s clear from the film’s stunning visuals why he feels compelled to paint the otherworldly landscapes, and the shots of the artist painting underwater have a magical feeling. Philip leaves us with this: “It felt like I had entered my own soul, surely this is a peace within.”

Surfer Dan

When thinking of surfing, most people picture tropical locales. Not Dan, who surfs on Lake Superior, contending with icebergs, sub-zero temperatures, and strong currents. Throughout the movie, shots of a surfer among ice floes are surreal, particularly the shot of Dan standing on a small lone berg, holding his green board and looking off into the distance. Clad head-to-toe in black wetsuit, he poses for the camera but almost falls off as the berg tips. It’s a fun short about how to find happiness, even if that means something very different to you than to everyone else.

What we’ll be taking home

Ocean is a place of calm and serenity for many people: it’s the source of stories that are passed down through generations and moments of transcendental beauty that reveal themselves only to a dedicated few. The ocean is wild and can be dangerous, and there is still a lot we have yet to discover. While the ocean can hurt us, we can also hurt it if we don’t consider our environmental impact. However, the ultimate takeaway is positive: that art and science can be used to build a better future.

If you’ve seen all of the movies, you can vote on your favourite online.

And if you’re interested in charity film production, get in touch with our MD Jamie.