William Fitzsimmons' Beard

William Fitzsimmons is a singer-songwriter originally from Pittsburgh best known for his song “Passion Play” that aired on ABC’s drama Grey’s Anatomy. He’s also known for his remarkable beard. In fact, his beard is often written about or discussed in equal measure as the music itself. It’s on t-shirts. It’s on posters. It has its own Facebook Page. A company that makes beard-grooming products once asked William if he would consider being the face of their brand. He declined.

For William, the beard is a natural thing. All of the Fitzsimmons men have worn beards – his father, his grandfather, his great-grandfather. He is merely carrying on the tradition. But for his fans, the beard is something much more… something to celebrate… something to admire… something to reach out and… touch. Yes- when William visits with fans after live performances, they’ll often ask to touch the beard.

We recently worked with William to produce a series of live performance videos to promote his upcoming EP, “Pittsburgh,” to be released May 12th. It occurred to us that William’s beard actually serves as a clever illustration of a critically important thing every great video must do. Here it is:

Take the viewer where they cannot go themselves.

For this set of performance videos, we set aside flashy camera moves, quick cuts, and post-processing effects. We used establishing shots sparingly. We used tight, fast lenses, and shallow depth of field. The culminating effect of these choices is a series of up-close, intimate videos of William performing his songs alone in a simple setting. This approach best serves the story of William’s music. It moves all of the technology and trappings of production out of the way so that the viewer can simply enjoy the performance more intimately than they would otherwise. In a way, you could say it takes them inside his beard.

Watch this first video of the title track, “Pittsburgh” premiered this month by Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation.

You can almost smell the beard oil.

No matter what type of product or service you offer, you can use this approach to take people inside your company – to bring them closer to your brand and interact with you in ways you may not have thought possible.

Does your content take viewers where they cannot go themselves?