1. Market Overview |
2. Production Overview |
3. Location Overview |
4. Political Overview
5. Content |
6. Concept |
7. Outline |
8. First Draft |
9. Shooting Script |
10. Final Draft Script
The starting point with any video project is to establish
the audience and the goal. The Ten
Point Scripting Process is designed to achieve this goal with
With the audience and goal established, first examine the market to get a picture of the arena in which the video must
perform. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the product or
service in the market? What about the competition? Have you presented other
videos to your audience? What are their expectations regarding production value and style?
Unless the scenes written on the page match the
resources in the budget, the script is a set-up for disaster. The
production overview assures that the script is do-able, and that
it maximizes the producer's resources. Will the video be Hi-8,
Betacam? One-day or five-day shoot? How many set-ups can be shot
in a day? Will professional talent be employed or corporate
personnel? Will the post process employ stock footage, off-line,
transcripts, non-linear, or graphics?
What kinds of locations are available to the
production? Corporate offices, board rooms, shooting
stage, stores, plants, or public spaces? Scenes must be
written around what is available.
Is there an internal client who must be sold on
this video? Who gives final approval on the script? Are
there key people who must appear on screen?
Just the facts m'am. What specific information
must be communicated? Product features, techniques,
announcements, or procedures. This is the what, not the
For a discussion on Content, see Elements of the Video Script.
This is the device used to tell the story -- the
how. The first five steps give us the reality check needed to forge a creative concept that will hook the audience, deliver the
content, fit the budget, and satisfy the brass.
For more on Concept, plus examples, see Elements of the Video
The outline is crucial to a successful script.
When you strip away all the smoke and mirrors from a dazzling
video, you are left with structure and content. It's either there
or it isn't -- and very often the latter.
- Examples of Concepts
- An on-camera host walking us through the story.
- Field reporters following an event.
- Cinema verite documentary.
- Game show with corporate contestants.
- Comic parody of a Clint Eastwood flic.
- Dramatized vignette of a salesperson having a bad day.
Before the script is written, the outline shows the way you will
build your case and organize your story. See OUTLINES
for more information on using outlines and examples.
The soul-searching writer staring at a blank page
usually starts here. But if you notice, we're already at step 8.
The Ten-Step process assures that the first draft will be right
With the content, concept, and structure already been nailed
down, the first-draft stage can now focus on language and
style. Is the terminology correct? Is this the right tone for
the message? Can it be stated tighter and with more punch?
This is the ready-to-shoot approved draft. The
production questions in the Visual Column regarding locations,
graphics, and stock shots should be resolved at this point.
Most people think of the shooting script as the final
draft. But what's on the page must adapt to what's recorded in
the field. The final script is what you take to post. It reflects
what's actually been shot, the stock footage found, the graphics
created, and the testimonials recorded.
For testimonials, I write imaginary sound bites
of what we hope the person will say. This information can also
come from a phone interview with the subject prior to the shoot.
Prepared bullet-points can help guide and focus the subject
during the actual taping.
Despite all this preparation, the tight testimonial you
hoped for may turn into 10 minutes of false starts and rambling
For a testimonial-driven video, the footage must be transcribed,
then re-worked into the script. With a rambling response, the
first part may be good, the middle meanders, and the ending is
necessary for closure.
The re-worked script might include the first part and
the last part of the sound bite. A cut-away shot or B-roll is
indicated to cover the jump cut. Suppose the testimonial ends:
The narration that follows might need to be re-written
for the final draft to pick up on the word "family."
- "...working at Johnson Brothers is like being part of a
- "Family... for 150 years Johnson Brothers has cared deeply
about all kinds of families...etc."
This example also shows why the narration is
recorded last and why the writer is often part of the post
- Return to:
- Main Menu
- Script Doctor Services
- Scripting from a Distance
- Elements of the Video Script