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How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

Who Needs a Hero, Anyway?

I’m a pure novice at making movies, so your book was exactly what I was looking for!  I made one diving video from a point & shoot underwater camera and tried to use your tips, but I struggled with “the hero” – the fish maybe? the turtle?  Help!

–Kaidra M.

The “hero” thing can be tricky, but it still works underwater.

The idea of choosing a hero is to make your video about someone. To keep you from randomly pointing and shooting. The key concept: it doesn’t matter WHO the hero is.

Without a hero, your video is about whatever catches your eye: Here’s a fish. CUT. Some coral. CUT. Oh, look– bubbles! CUT. I’m even bored typing this.

But let’s see what happens with a hero:  Suppose your video follows some specific, cool-looking fish. Your shots would be something like this:  Fish swims into cave.  CUT.  Fish sticks head out and looks at camera.  CUT.  Fish darts out to take food from your hand.   It’s only three shots– maybe 30 seconds long, but you’re telling the story of a fish in a very watchable, focused way.

If you chose to tell the story “I go on a dive,” the focus of the video becomes you.  Shots like “I put on my wetsuit” and “My dive buddy gives the thumbs up as we descend”–but it could also be the same fish story as above from your point of view:  “I spot a fish.”  “I swim after the fish until it runs into a cave.”  “I take food from my pocket and offer it to the fish.”

Would a turtle make an equally fine hero? Sure! The point here is that ANY focus helps your video.  Don’t spend a lot of time figuring out who the hero is– just pick one.  Making the choice helps you tell a better story, making your video much more interesting to watch.

Who needs hero?  You do.

More on Heroes and story.

photo by Jan Messersmith

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