Phil Cooke is changing the way business, church, and non-profit leaders influence and engage the culture. A writer, speaker, & filmmaker, Christianity Today magazine calls him a "media guru." His media company, Cooke Pictures, advises many of the largest and most effective churches & non-profit organizations in the world, and his books and online blog at philcooke.com are changing the way they tell their story. His newest book “One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do” is set to release in July of 2012 from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Posted 12/19/13 at 10:01 AM | Phil Cooke
As the saying goes, “The world is going to hell in a hand basket.” There’s never been a greater challenge for world evangelism, there are plenty of social problems like hunger and homelessness we face here in the United States, Christians are being marginalized more than ever, religious persecution is rampant on a global basis, and that’s just the beginning. But what are we still debating in the Church today?
Hard to believe but I sometimes think we Christians spend more time criticizing large churches than anything else. Are there problems in 2,000+ member churches? Of course. But I work with churches of all sizes for a living, and I can tell you that for every case of shallow teaching, bad theology, leadership failures, financial improprieties, or whatever the criticism du jour happens to be, I can point to a long list of 50+ member churches guilty of the same things.
From the perspective of a person passionately interested in how Christians engage today’s culture, here’s some reasons I think it’s time for a moratorium on megachurch criticism: FULL POST
Posted 12/17/13 at 9:42 AM | Phil Cooke
I meet video editors on a regular basis, and generally speaking they want to talk about:
1. What editing software they use. (Final Cut, Avid, Adobe Premier – whatever)
2. What effects software they use. (After-Effects, Photoshop, Maya – whatever)
3. What cameras they like to edit footage from. (RED, DSLR, Canon C300 – whatever)
But I rarely talk to a video editor who wants to talk about storytelling. It seems really low on the food-chain for most editors. But the truth is, being able to tell a story is the single most important skill you need. That’s one reason I hate to see directors or editors sending demo reels that are “compilation” reels. You know the kind – they pick some hot tune and then cut single shots together from the last 50 projects they worked on. I’ve written before why I hate to see those kinds of demo reels. You can read that here.
So – if you’re a video editor and not a great storyteller, here’s what I’d do:
1. Read the book “Story” by Robert McKee. Most people think it’s just for screenwriters, but it’s a fascinating analysis of how to put a story together.
2. Start reading novels. Put down the video magazines and pick up Moby Dick. Novels will help you understand the flow, pacing, and style of great stories.
3. Watch story driven films and videos. I say “story driven” because sadly, a remarkable number of videos, TV programs, and even movies today are driven by something other than a great story. Learn to tell the difference.
4. Start exploring stories on a regular basis. There are plenty of books, conferences, and seminars on the subject. FULL POST
Posted 12/16/13 at 10:19 AM | Phil Cooke
Over the years, I’ve recommended ghostwriters on multiple occasions to my clients. In fact, early in my career, I was paid to write a number of books for clients myself without ever getting any credit. After all, do we really believe all major corporate executives, celebrities, professional athletes, or leaders are good writers? And it’s no different with pastors. The irony here is that although a significant part of their job is communication, the vast majority of pastors I’ve met are just not terribly good when it comes to writing. So if you have a message you need to share, and a book is the right platform (but you’re not a strong writer) then by all means, consider hiring a professional writer or editor to help. But I just have one caveat: Give them some credit. FULL POST
Posted 12/12/13 at 1:35 PM | Phil Cooke
More and more evidence is coming in that leadership style and behavior trickle down. I once had a client who’s leadership style was to lead by threat. Instead of inspiring and motivating his team, his constant mantra was, “If you can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can.” Before long, his subordinates followed his lead and began their own reign of terror with co-workers and vendors. For leaders, the bottom line is the team follows your lead, so you should be very careful about the “vibes” you’re sending out. Now, The Wall Street Journal says that it’s the same way with stress. If your leadership style is to rush around, barking orders, run late for meetings, and be overly intense, those stress signals will impact the people around you. FULL POST
Posted 12/11/13 at 10:40 AM | Phil Cooke
Get a tissue, expand this to fullscreen, and check out this 5 minute short film. One of the most creative campaigns I’ve ever seen…
Posted 12/10/13 at 9:52 AM | Phil Cooke |
The Los Angeles Times reports a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics that reveals violence in PG-13 movies is skyrocketing and almost 90% of the highest-grossing recent movies have violent characters, more than three-quarters of which also engage in drinking, smoking or sex. The study goes on to say that these PG-13 movies make violence look “as acceptable as these other behaviors.” The Times reports, “The study also found that the mixture of violence and at least one other “risk behavior” such as alcohol or tobacco use was nearly as common in films rated PG-13 as it was in movies rated R.” FULL POST
Posted 12/10/13 at 9:38 AM | Phil Cooke
As the Obamacare website continues it’s botched roll-out (in November HHS reported that 30-40% of the back end isn’t even built yet), I’m reminded of the massive gulf between what we see of government agencies on prime time TV and the apparent reality. Just watch a few episodes of “CSI,” “NCIS,” “The Blacklist,” or “Hawaii 5-0” to see just how sophisticated the government computer systems are portrayed. Distorted, massively out of focus pictures can be instantly corrected, the most trivial personal information from decades ago can be found, and the location of government operatives can be pinpointed within a few inches anywhere in the world. Background information, police reports – just about anything can be accessed at the touch of a button. In fact, I believe one of the reasons Americans are so shocked at the HHS website disaster (It’s cost more than $1 billion so far), is what they see in prime time. The media has far more influence than we think, so it is realistic to think the viewing public assumes that although these drama shows are fiction, they’re at least showing us what the government is capable of doing with technology? FULL POST
Posted 12/9/13 at 9:27 AM | Phil Cooke
In my books I write frequently about making sure that in our scripts and programming, we stop the “Christian Lingo” and speak in a language and style the culture understands. As an example, a few years ago I received this e-mail from a media executive that brilliantly illustrates the point:
This month in your newsletter you mentioned how sometimes we as Christians don’t communicate very well with non-believers. My wife and I bought a radio station in a small market several years ago in rural Indiana. We decided on a positive country format, and included select Christian artists that fit that format. One DJ was given a Christian CD and told to listen to a particular song. In a few minutes he came out of the studio and announced that that was a gross and disgusting song. We were surprised and asked him why. His statement was “That song talks about being washed in the blood”. FULL POST
Posted 12/6/13 at 10:06 AM | Phil Cooke
No matter what video projects you produce, sooner or later you’ll shoot someone’s testimony about how their life was changed. It might be due to God, an experience at church, being the recipient of a nonprofit’s work, or even a consumer product – but whatever it is, it can be a powerful moment on camera. If you’re shooting videos like this for a church, nonprofit, or business, here’s the most important keys to making it work:
1) To make them most natural, ease into rolling video. Once you sit them down to shoot, whatever you do, don’t let anyone yell “Rolling!” or “Action!” They’ll immediately clam up and get nervous. With my crew, we’ve created some nonverbal signs that let me know they’re ready and rolling, and we just transition into the interview. I’ve actually finished some interviews where the people had no idea we’d been rolling.
2) Make sure the interviewer sits as close to the camera lens as possible. You want the interviewee looking as directly at the camera as possible. Profiles have no power. Make sure you’re seeing their entire face. FULL POST
Posted 12/4/13 at 9:09 AM | Phil Cooke
During the last week, the media has been obsessed with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ announcement that within 4-5 years he wants to start delivering products directly to our homes via drones. It’s a wild idea, and yet Bezos has proven himself on so many levels, the idea can’t be discounted. More important, when it comes to getting your big ideas noticed, there’s some valuable lessons to be learned from the announcement:
1) The sheer audacity of the idea got people’s attention. It’s been in the news for an entire week with few signs of letting up. However, for big ideas to get attention, they have to be announced from someone with past credibility. From someone other than a credible leader like Bezos, it would just be considered another crazy idea.
2) A big, audacious announcement is designed for more than just customers. His claim also put the word out to federal regulators like the FAA that they’d better get ready for business to start using drones. Big announcements can put a lot of people on notice. FULL POST