Not just for the academy awards: Why professional scriptwriting is essential to your corporate video
January 31, 2013
Before a movie, TV show or corporate video makes you laugh, cry or gasp in surprise, it starts out as a script. That script likely went through many drafts to become the story you see on screen. Music videos, documentaries, promotional and product videos also start with story outlines and scripts. But many corporate clients don’t realize the research and writing that goes into bringing their video concept to the screen.
“Most of our clients contact us with a general idea of what they want their video to be about,” says Nancy Ho, Account Manager at Picture This. “They see value in a professional production house, but many underestimate just how much writing and preparation is involved.”
“Some companies just don’t have a large marketing team on hand to handle writing, but a professional video production with a creative staff can,” adds Nancy. “And even if they do have marketing writers, they may not necessarily know what sounds and looks good on screen.”
Picture This Creative Director Maureen Marovitch agrees. “Clients are absolutely the experts in their product. They know what they want to say but not always how to express it in filmic language. So it’s my job as scriptwriter to take their information and transform it into a story that unfolds in video form.”
To get to that final product, the scriptwriter first needs to understand the subject of the video. What are the product or services’ key selling points? Which are the most important to highlight – or play down? Who or what at the organization will best shine at getting the key messages and ideas across on-screen? And how do you weave those elements into a story? A professional scriptwriter will find ways to seamlessly engage the audience with storytelling skill and style. (TIP: Check out our earlier storytelling post to see what kinds of stories are likely hidden in your organization.)
Another little understood element of writing a video outline is the research. Sometimes that involves visiting the location and trying out the product. It might mean delving into the history of the organization and learning about its goals for the future. And most often it means talking to the key players at the organization, especially those who may appear on camera.
“An important part of corporate scriptwriting is doing those pre-interviews – whether by phone or in person. That’s where we find out those really great kernels or key messages that will end up being honed down to what we’ll ask on camera,” explains Maureen.
A pre-interview can bring up all kinds of surprises – and not all of them good. “Sometimes the person a client thinks we should interview or put on camera isn’t actually very comfortable speaking publically. He just may not come across as passionate or as an ideal spokesperson.” That kind of pre-interview information helps arm the production team. They know they may need to give this person a smaller role in the video, or else consider suggesting an alternate on-camera representative be found.
But some pre-interviews yield wonderful surprises. “We’ve had pre-interview subjects offer us all kinds of stories that really humanize the company. Then we’ve been able to work those moments into the larger video,” says Maureen.
The bottom line is that scripting and research are two of the unseen, but necessary building blocks of delivering a great video. So whether at the Academy Awards or for your next corporate project, a script can make or break a production.
Need help getting some ideas on paper for your next video project? Contact us!