2016: A Year in Video

2016: A Year in Video
Posted by: Laura Fallsgraff

2016 has been nothing if not a year full of surprises and excitement — and that certainly holds true for us here at Kindling Group. We took on challenging new projects, like Veterans Coming Home, launched a weekly vlog for our forthcoming feature No Small Matter, and followed exciting movements in politics for a yet-to-be-announced new series (shh!). Across the board, we grew — as filmmakers, as strategists, and as a Kindling Group family.


This past week, we’ve been sharing our personal favorite videos on social media — but now’s the time for a deep dive into our audience’s personal favorite videos, and why we think those might have stuck out for folks. Across our projects, here are the videos that reached the most people online, and some hypotheses for why they stood out.


A Veteran and his service dog walk into a bar | Veterans Coming Home



Thanks to content and broadcaster partnerships, Veterans Coming Home saw healthy engagement and reach across multiple social media platforms. But as our Facebook audience grew, we began to focus more on our reach and engagement there — especially as videos like this one began to take off.


VCH’s video content was structured around longer 7-10 minute documentaries that dived in veterans’ stories — but we also produced 30+ shorts answering a quick question or showing a snippet from shoots across the country. This video, sharing a standup routine by a veteran and his service dog, was the first we posted from our series with the Armed Services Arts Partnership and We Are the Mighty. Since posting it in the spring, has been viewed 797,000 times, generating more than 600 comments.


We surmise it had such wide reach for a few reasons:


  1. It was short and sweet — grabbing the viewer quickly, and wrapping up under 2 minutes

  2. It was pointy — Mike addresses controversial, painful topics, and got people talking and sharing as a result

  3. It’s funny — laughter can help make the difficult issues veterans deal with every day more palatable and relatable to non-veterans, helping reach our ultimate goal of bridging divides between these groups in communities and online

  4. Animals! They have lots of engaged interest groups that shared the video, and let’s be real … a cute puppy or kitten is a pretty straightforward win in any context




This video is from “What’s Your Calling?”, the engagement campaign constructed around Kindling Group’s PBS series The Calling. The campaign aimed to get people talking about their own personal or career callings, and this video follows two students who are learning about the rituals of kosher slaughter. Yes, including a slaughter scene ...


While we first posted it in 2010, it continues to drive traffic to our YouTube page, generates a lot of debate in the comments section, and happens to be the top performing video on Kindling’s YouTube page again this year.


  1. The majority of traffic to the video is driven by other Youtube channels explaining kosher slaughter, and the next highest source of traffic is YouTube search. The topic of the video is highly specific, so folks doing keyword searches on YouTube or Google end up at KG.

  2. It’s controversial. Viewers are watching for an average of 2:15 minutes — many of them then leaving comments or responding to comments.


In short, this video has found a niche audience that is very passionate about the subject. Views on meat-eating aside — we are glad this piece is getting people talking.




Well this one is fairly obvious! We don’t produce a regular video series for Radical Grace, but the film has a bomb trailer, and has been on the festival and community screenings circuit all year. Folks who’ve seen the film are sharing our trailer, and driving up our views on YouTube. All our traffic for this video is organic, generating a total of now 27,449 views across its various iterations.




In February of 2016, we launched our weekly vlog for No Small Matter, hosted by a preschool teacher featured in the film. Kindling’s Producer Kristin Pichaske produced this listicle video targeting early childhood educators. While our video on the Reggio Emilio preschool philosophy performed better on Facebook, we are crowning this the project’s most engaging video of the year because YouTube is more conservative about how it calculates views.


  1. The video hooks a viewer in the beginning with the statement (you know you’re a preschool teacher when…) and goes on to list inside jokes for educators that lend the video to being shareable and engaging — even for us laypeople.

  2. Jump cuts and quirky graphics also help make the video fun and approachable.

  3. And of course — Rachel, a fellow teacher, is relatable to our audience in a way we as filmmakers can’t be!


We look forward to putting these lessons to work on more impactful, creative projects in 2017. Happy new year from all of us at KG!