With the objective of raising awareness about the incredible mental and physical healing power of sport, the pilot short film project, 'From Injured Soldier to Sporting Glory' highlights life beyond debilitating injury after military service.
The interview with Curtis McGrath, a former Australian Army soldier who is now a gold-medal-winning, international Paracanoe champion and beloved Aussie sportsman mindfully focused on how he chose to move forward after losing both of his legs to an IED blast while deployed in Afghanistan at just 24 years old in 2012.
The goal was to inspire and empower veterans, particularly those that have returned from service with mental and physical injuries. Defence Connect aimed to be impactful by intentionally presenting McGrath's remarkable story of determination, grit and tenacity in a strong, resilient, capable light.
With the Tokyo Paralympics approaching, a key element of the objective behind producing the short film was to support McGrath who was set to represent Australia at the Tokyo Paralympics. The short film and accompanying online article was published on the Defence Connect webpage as well as its social media channels prior to the Paralympic games to ensure the community knew how to support the sporting icon as he competed for Australia at the Paracanoe competition in Tokyo.
Momentum Media's Defence Connect brand is focused on fostering connectivity and community within Australia's defence sector. In support of government and corporate initiatives that back veterans, Defence Connect aims to raise awareness about veterans affairs via impactful, human-centric storytelling.
Defence Connect is an integral part of Australia's defence and national security sectors as an integrated market intelligence platform. In order to expand into covering veterans affairs, video content was identified as the springboard to propel Defence Connect’s presence beyond its current scope and build brand awareness.
The strategy behind launching the pilot visual offering was designed to engage the current following and reach a new audience from a human interest perspective. ‘From Injured Soldier to Sporting Glory' was created from end-to-end remotely during the lockdown in Sydney, Australia. An unconventional production plan was designed in response to challenges and limitations presented by restrictions.
After securing an interview with Australian Army veteran and gold-medal winning sportsman Curtis McGrath, Momentum Media journalist and content producer, Nastasha Tupas, leveraged the opportunity to kick-off the new direction for the Defence Connect brand. Solely responsible for the research, scheduling, creative ideation, the on-camera interview, scriptwriting, video production, the creative direction and delivery of the complete package; she drew from her hybrid media experience for the solo project.
McGrath embodied strength and resilience, which resonated with the current audience and inspired people beyond the Defence Connect community. To differentiate from past coverage, the interview questions were intentionally designed to capture McGrath's lived experience in a concise but informative way with the goal of elevating his narrative from an empowered position.
The authenticity of the short film was driven by McGrath's candid and honest storytelling. The cutaways showcased archival footage, short videos and images sourced from public online resources, including McGrath's official social media accounts, which compellingly illustrated different parts of the narrative, establishing a strong story arc. Stylistically, the collection of media elements featured over McGrath's voice meaningfully complemented the unique, original story.
'From Injured Soldier to Sporting Glory' was produced without a decked-out studio or a crew; sans lighting setup and high-end cameras. Crafted with minimal resources, consisting of an internet connection and humble tools on hand at home, the short film effectively accomplished an engaging, genuine representation of the incredible tragedy to triumph story in five minutes.
McGrath's powerful narration was the key pillar of the short film. Enhanced by the direction, visual storytelling, video editing and intentional sound design, Defence Connect delivered a rich viewing experience showcasing the strength of the human spirit.
'From Injured Soldier to Sporting Glory' was received with an overwhelmingly positive reception from internal and external stakeholders. Defence Connect achieved its goal after the human-interest driven proof of concept demonstrated it's viability as an asset to the existing content output.
On LinkedIn, Defence Connect's principal social media platform, the short film increased page views by 18%, attracted a 28% uplift in unique visitors and achieved a 39% boost in custom button click throughs to the Defence Connect webpage, which is an accomplishment for the brand in terms of attaining engagement from genuine audience interaction via a call-to-action prompt. YouTube analytics has shown 67% of viewers were still watching past the 0:30 mark, with view retention rate results peaking at a solid 2:52, indicating the content held audience engagement for over 50% of the total run time.
Beyond the metrics, the short film has enabled Defence Connect to leverage on a new content avenue driven by human-interest storytelling with confidence. "This video reached the defence industry, but it also created a new wave of communication from Defence Connect, which got other Momentum Media brands excited about producing videos, and I was extremely impressed with the fact that it was a solo project," according to Momentum Media marketing manager Demii Kalavritinos.
After the short film and feature article was published online, a comment from Invictus Australia on the LinkedIn post stood out. "Absolutely inspiring story - Curtis McGrath OAM is such a wonderful ambassador for harnessing the power of sport to heal. We'll be cheering you on! Great article Defence Connect," it read.
Since then, Momentum Media has worked with the Australian subsidiary of the internationally renowned sporting organisation, Invictus Foundation, on more than one occasion. Defence Connect is also set to launch a podcast as part of a new partnership with the aim of further amplifying veteran stories, exploring mental health, resilience and recovery, while continuing to raise awareness about veterans affairs in Australia today.
Defence Connect's contribution to positive social impact is the most significant success metric delivered by this pilot short film project. The brand maximised business impact by meeting its objective, leveraging on the forward momentum the short film generated, which developed in to a new podcast opportunity designed to continue the conversation about extraordinary veteran stories that triumphed over the trials and tribulations of life after military service.
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