I get what you’re saying about having story in video, but I’m stuck.
I’m doing short videos about the sales team for my company website. Do I need a story? How do I create one?
A story needs a hero, a beginning, middle and end. The easiest way to put it all together is to go in that order. Start with the hero, then use your inner detective to find the story.
Anyone can be your video’s hero. They don’t have to fly or wear a metal suit. But they do have to be interesting. As the filmmaker, deciding who is MOST interesting is your job.
Start with your gut– after all, it’s your video. Who seems interesting to you? Once you have a list of suspects, it’s time to play detective. Research them. Interview them. Learn everything you can about the candidates. Let your curiosity guide you as you learn more about their stories.
What are their goals in life? What are their goals for the customer or the company? What do they need to accomplish to live up to their own vision of success? What’s their struggle? Everyone has a story. Your job is to ferret it out.
Now choose the best stories from among your potential heroes– the strongest beginnings, middles, and ends– and be honest about what interests you. A sales video about a guy who overcame a horrible stutter to be the best salesperson on the team will be much more interesting than the story of the nice woman who goes out with her nice clients and has a nice dinner. The bigger the hero’s goal– the greater the potential for failure or huge success– the better the story.
Graduations: An opportunity to be with family and create memories, Graduation video: An opportunity to, if you’re not careful, shoot some of the most boring footage ever. Read on for more tips on how NOT to shoot graduation video that sucks (Did you miss part 1? It’s here):
4) Think in Shots: Short shots involve viewers more than long, rambling video. Don’t run the camera continuously. Just because you can shoot for 2 hours on your camera doesn’t mean you should.
5) Find Your Hero: Every shot in a video should have a hero—the person or thing the shot is about. “Sarah giving her speech” or “Emma high-fiving her friend.” Your job is to focus your shot on that person or thing that interests you so that we see it too.
6) You represent your children: Older graduates can take the stage armed with smartphones or other small video devices. But smaller graduates can’t sneak video while graduating, and no graduate can shoot themselves from the audience’s point of view. That makes you your kid’s best hope of seeing what it all looked like 20 years from now. Take some great shots of their closer friends or teachers. Interview some of the relatives. Give them a great video to look back at.
The big day is almost here. Your little boy/girl is about to take that first big step into the real world and graduate from Grad School/College/High School/Middle School/6th Grade/Kindergarten/Preschool.
Graduation, the event that used to happen only once or twice in a lifetime now seems to happen every time you turn around. It’s become a much-celebrated family Event. That’s “event” with a capital “E”, which means you have to be there, and you have to have your video camera.
Here’s how to make Graduation videos that work:
1) Plan a little: Pre-school graduation may be kind of free form, but by the time you get to the big leagues, you’re likely to get a program when you walk in. The program tells you when you’ll get your best shots. As soon as you walk in, look around. where do you need to be to get your best shots? From where do the Graduates enter? Where will they sit? Where does the diploma get handed out?
Thinking a little about your vantage points helps you be in the right place at the right time.
2) Stay Close to the Action: The closer you are to the graduate, the better. Faces tell us everything about human emotion. If you can’t see them, you lose the feel of the event. And as your little one grows up, it’s her face at age whatever that you’ll want to keep coming back to.
3) Don’t be Shy: You don’t want to cause fistfights in the elementary school auditorium by blocking somebody’s grandma’s line of sight, but neither do you need to sit in your seat and hope to shoot around her hat. Be as polite as possible, but go where the shot is going to be. Get close to your graduate, and your shots will be something to remember.
Following up on last week’s post, my friend (and storytelling/marketing expert) Andy Goodman sent me this spot and the message “Get a tissue before you watch.” It’s powerful, emotional and beautifully done.
It’s also a brilliant model for creating intrigue. The film pulls viewers in by getting us to play two different guessing games as we watch.
The first game is “What am I seeing?” We’re shown a face that intrigues us, but we don’t know who it is. We wonder, trying to make sense of each headline as the video gives us more clues– and then, finally tells us who we’re looking at.
The second game is “What is the whole piece telling me?” By drawing us into game 1, the filmmakers intrigue us enough to play game 2. Now the succession of faces, identities and unrealized futures ignite our imaginations and raise another question: what do the faces have in common? Why are the filmmakers asking me to imagine this?
At the end, the video answers our questions. But by raising questions instead of telling us everything up front, we’ve been intrigued from the very start. To really understand the power of intrigue, think how much weaker this piece would be if it presented it’s final message in the first frame: “The Anti-Defamation League says we should hate less.” Duh.
But by brilliantly intriguing us, by making our brains work and feel real emotion, the filmmakers have involved us in a video we won’t easily forget.
Intrigue is the currency of modern entertainment. It’s the art of making people want to find out more.
Skillful storytellers don’t get you to turn page after page by telling you what happens next. They intrigue you– they get you to turn the page by making you wonder what happens next. That act of wondering– of needing to know– is what makes you stay with the story.
And so it is with all video. Intrigue keeps you tuned in. A commercial or sales video can’t just tell you about the product. If I open my video about, say, my really cool book with a 2 minute explanation of why you should buy it, you’ll be gone in 10 seconds. But if I show you tips you can actually use right now to shoot better video, you’ll be intrigued enough to stick around. And you’ll come to your own conclusions about the book’s worth.
In this Anchor Brewing Company video (from a series we created and produced with our partners at Redtail Media), the whole “plot” is intrigue– you have no idea what the characters are doing until the very end. That intrigue keeps you wondering…and learning about Anchor Small Beer.
How can you raise questions and add intrigue to your next video?