Note: Just a few days ago, we were notified that our film, TESTED, was officially selected by the Golden Door Film Festival. You can watch the full film below.

The story of TESTED all began with a client video call that took an unexpected turn.

In the middle of our conversation about logistics for another production entirely, the facilities manager of the location we were planning on filming at, began to tell us a bit of his life story. At first, it was high level, but then, like a tidal wave, he unleashed the whole of his life story with us. He told us about the challenges of trying to keep his business afloat, the loss of his brother, the loss of his father, all while trying to care for two children with special needs.

A frame from our documentary TESTED, featuring Kevin Dunn of TEST Football Academy.

After he finished wiping tears from his eyes, he apologized for changing the tone of the call and we all just sat there in a sort of shock. Why should he apologize?

Here was a man who ran TEST Football Academy, a facility that trained some of the most notable NFL players of our modern era (including Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, btw) sharing with extreme vulnerability some of the most challenging events in his life.

He had given us an incredible gift. The gift of authenticity.

A frame from our documentary TESTED, featuring Kevin Dunn of TEST Football Academy.

Too often, marketing tries to fake authenticity, employing empty platitudes and sentimental messaging. But, despite what many marketing gurus may say, there’s no formula for authenticity. You can’t create it. You can only find it. And when you discover an authentic story, it shines like a diamond.

You can’t fake authenticity, but you can discover it.

Discovering an authentic story just takes listening. When we heard Kevin’s story, it was so clear that it was unapologetically his. He had no reservations. There was no self-preservation. He came undone to do something beautiful—to share his story with humility and to relate.

This encounter changed the way we do business.

Handshake, for us, has always been about relating to people—the human side of business. But now more than ever, we’ve learned that before we can tell the story that wants to be told, we have to start with listening.

A frame from our documentary TESTED, featuring Kevin Dunn of TEST Football Academy.

We listen until we discover the diamond in the rough, that truly beautiful story that you, your company, or your brand believes and lives wholeheartedly.

Because when authenticity is paired with the good and the beautiful, suddenly a video becomes more than a video. It breaks through the mundane and traditional and, with boldness, shares your brand’s heart with your customers.

In short, your video becomes an encounter with beauty—that transcendent, touching, lingering joy and sadness all at once that reminds us we’re not alone and that there is good in the world.

We’re so thankful that, during that one logistics call, Kevin Dunn took us on a detour. Without his honesty and his vulnerability, we would’ve missed something truly beautiful, and we would never have learned the power of authenticity and the importance of discovering it.

It also led to us producing a mini-documentary featuring his story entitled TESTED. For this documentary, we did our best to capture the authenticity of his story. It’s raw. There are moments of tears. Seconds of silence. Moments of struggling to regain composure. But it was beautiful.

You can check out that documentary below.

Looking back on it, TESTED, and that chance encounter with Kevin, reminded us of why we tell stories in the first place: because stories connect us and they remind us, in the words of Samwise Gamgee, “there’s some good left in this world and it’s worth fighting for.”

If you’re looking for a video production partner who can tell your authentic story, let us know, we’d love to lend an ear and a hand!