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How To Tell The Best Video Story Ever

I believe the best stories are told by people. People using their own words to explain their own experience. Whether it’s a story about the business they work for or a program they are a part of or a moment they witnessed – people tell the story better than a narrator.

Now, believe me, it’s a rare occasion to have a corporate client say “do it however you like, I trust you”. But sometimes they actually do, and when they do, it feels like Christmas morning. I can’t wait to get started working on those magical productions.

There are some basic items needed to make your storytelling job easier… It helps to have a great subject. Someone who is compelling, open, trusting & willing to share their story.

The St. Vincent de Paul organization helps a great number of folks in our area with food, pharmacy, housing & other basic needs. They needed a video for their annual fundraising breakfast. During our planning meeting, we all agreed that a single person who utilized many of their programs would be the best way to tell their story. It took a while but they were able to find the perfect person – Jessica.

This project only worked well because Jessica, the focus of our story, opened up honestly & completely. She held nothing back in telling her experience. She trusted that her contribution to the project would help others in similar situations to hers.

Some post-production decisions that help give this project some visual style were the black & white images in the beginning & the video flashing. I thought both effects helped demonstrate how bleak her life looked at that time. The flashing effect I think adds to the dysfunctional feeling – and it helped transition between jump cuts in the video.

The client wanted a simple, clean look. They wanted to showcase their programs. They wanted a compelling story that shows they make a difference. I think we reached their goals.

Another common client request is to document an event. Nothing worse than a boring event video. When you get that job, you hope the event lends itself to gathering great natural moments… I received a call from an old TV friend who was looking for contributors for a large national production that would air on PBS & at film festivals. The program was to be completely shot on one day, Veterans Day 2011. The subject matter: a veteran of my choice! As the shooter/producer of my piece, I contacted various friends who are veterans & various organizations who work with vets, hoping a great story would somehow fall in my lap. And it did. I found the perfect veteran to focus on that special day – 11.11.11. It worked out so well because the veteran was open to the idea I was proposing. He trusted I would present him well & that his story was worth telling & would make a difference. I think what was important was planning out the shoot day far in advance and communicating with my vet what the day might look like with me tagging along. I did a lot of leg work before I showed up to shoot.

Not often do you have the perfect recipe for the best video story ever.

The secret: realize it when you do. Plan. Create the moment. Let the people tell their own story. Then you’ll be telling the best video story ever.

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