Can a corporate video be truly moving? Watch this one and see

Public relations and marketing firms have rebranded themselves as storytellers, but most of their stories are as forgettable as their press releases. Lots of dreck, plenty of the merely adequate and, rarely, a gem.

Here’s one of the gems – an incredible video produced for Google Maps by Stephen Higgins at Storybox Films in NY. It tells the story of a five-year-old boy named Saroo Munshi Khan who fell asleep on a train in India and was separated from his family for more than a quarter century. Growing up with his adoptive family in Australia, he used Google Earth to comb through his memories and find his village and family.

The video was inspired by a November 2012 article in Vanity Fair. Stephen (we worked together as PC Week reporters way back) says it was the rare project with no creative brief. “The mission was simply to go out, as a documentary filmmaker, and find the heart of the story.”

Too often, the creative juice is squeezed out of a corporate video as it goes through layers of approval. “The point for marketers is to let go a little bit,” Stephen says. “Allow filmmakers to have a run with it. Don’t try to sell. Feel more. Inadvertently perhaps, that creates the best ad experiences.”