The Video Production Process is crucial to making great content. Follow the steps below for best results.
Step 1. Our Strategy
Every great film begins with a great strategy. For some it's to document real life events that shift perspective. Or to pull heart strings or to blow up as much stuff as possible and leave people wanting more fireworks. For our purposes, our strategy is to help people experience ESA in visual ways they might not have ever expected. What does that look like and feel like? It's up to you, as long as the content comes back to our strategy of "Experience is Everything."
2. The creative idea
Every great film starts with a great concept. And the concept should always relate back to our strategy. So what the heck does that mean? Let's look at an example. We know that part of the ESA Experience is having animals on campus, which is pretty rad and different. So what if we showed someone a day in the life of ESA, through the eyes of an animal? How would that look? How would it sound? Would it have music or just the sounds of campus or maybe it would be narrated by David Attenborough. How would we capture the perspective of the cat? Would we use virtual reality or strap a GoPro on the cat? Come up with a lot of creative ideas and then write them down in scripts.
Check out these examples to give you an idea of how silly, simple, and powerful a message can be. Then discuss with someone how all of these examples link back to the strategy.
Cadbury Gorilla - https://youtu.be/TnzFRV1LwIo
Nike Commercial - https://youtu.be/A9pmgoETgQQ
3. Script Writing
Once you've got your ideas it's time to put pen to paper and think exactly about how they will play out. Here's an example of a script and how it should be formatted:
"When you're smiling" ESA - :60 Video Content
WE OPEN LOW TO THE GROUND FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A CAT, AS IT EMERGES FROM A DARKENED LOCKER ROOM. THE CAT ENTERS THE GYM WHERE WE SEE VOLLYBALL PLAYERS HITTING BALLS. ONE OF THE BALLS FLIES BY THE CAT AND IT QUICKLY RUNS FOR THE GYM DOOR. SOMEONE SMILES AS THEY OPEN THE DOOR TO LET THE CAT OUT.
Music: Louis Armstrong's "When you're smiling"
WE CUT TO SEE THE CAT INTERACTING WITH VARIOUS STUDENTS AND TEACHERS THROUGHOUT THE DAY AT ESA. IN ONE SCENE WE SEE A GROUP OF KIDS SMILING AND PETTING THE CAT NEAR THE LOCKERS.
Music: When you're smiling...keep on smiling...
CUT TO SEE THE CAT IN A CLASSROOM, SITTING ON A TABLE AT LUNCH, IN THE TEACHERS LOUNGE AND SLEEPING IN THE LIBRARY.
Music: ...and the whole world smiles with you.
FINALLY WE CUT TO SEE A SENIOR REACH TOWARDS THE CAT AND OUR CAMERA CUTS TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE STUDENT AND WE SEE THE CAT MEOW AND JUMP FROM THE STUDENTS HANDS.
FADE TO BLACK
SUPER: See the world from new perspectives.
SUPER: www.theesaexperience.me (with clickable link)
Check out these trailers as examples of how a great script paired with beautiful shots can leave you wanting to know and see more.
Tree of Life - https://youtu.be/WXRYA1dxP_0
True Romance - https://youtu.be/hBw3LiQwRaw
Once you have a script that you like it's time to think about your storyboard. This is also called a shooting board. It outlines the shots you'd like to capture and gives a sense of the angles and visual action. As long as you can draw a stick figure you can create a storyboard. Just draw each frame as you see it in your head and then put the boxes together like a film strip. Then when you shoot, you'll be able to follow your story and check off each scene as you shoot it. It's a nice way of staying on track.
This is the fun part, where you get to make your film. And in order to do that, you'll need some equipment. ESA has purchased some awesome film equipment for you to check out and use. You can learn more about all these awesome techy things here.
5. Post production
Post production is where we finish our film. This is where we do our editing, our sound design, our color correction and finishing. It's also where we begin to think about our earned and social media strategies. More to come on that soon. Right now we'll focus on our ideas and our scripts.
6. Earned Media: The Micro-Influencer Strategy
So you’ve just borne a creative concept into a tangible art piece…now what? Who will see it? How?
One of the most valuable strategies in getting your work seen is the micro-influencer strategy: Creating something so cool that “influencers” or “thought leaders” with an existing following will want to share and promote it, costing you only a little time and communication effort.
Think of it this way. Marketing a film would involve finding the best places to put an ad, or a trailer, creating that ad, paying for the space, and hoping your research into that space’s audience engagement does the trick. That’s paid media. That’s the “sponsored” content you scroll past on Facebook and the commercials you can’t skip on Spotify.
The micro-influencer strategy is earned media. It’s when you take your product/content (your film, in this case) and spend time finding popular minds that might respond to it. For an article on young millennials in the workplace, you could find influencers (on Twitter, Instagram, their own blogs, etc.) that write about struggles between generations, college-to-career blogs, a news or lifestyle magazine, even a college YouTuber. For a piece of cool new tech, you might reach out to Wired for earned media. For a photo series involving feminism you might go after HuffPost or Bustle. For our hypothetical film from a cat’s perspective, maybe there’s an Instagram account that shows a traveling couple and their pet companions, or an account that features curated photos of cats in cool places, or even an education connoisseur who covers cool things schools do, like detention replacement programs or Quidditch intramurals. After checking them out, can you picture them posting something like, “Guys, check out this snippet of a video from a school. They have cats and other animals roaming around campus. Like why doesn’t my school have that!?” or “Remember that post I wrote about the effects of animals and nature on psychological health? This school hits the nail on the head.”?
If you can, you’ve just found your outlet!
So, down to the specifics: How do you reach them? First of all, you’re not pushing an ad at them. You’re pushing your own creative content, so show them why it’s compelling.
The philosophy behind earned media is that what you want to show the world is unique and sends a message. You’re not convincing them to act like they’re sponsored by you, you’re showing them why they should want to share it on their own accord. Tell an influencer why you like or admire their work (Instagram photos, blog posts, etc… customize your message) and say you’ve created something awesome that you thought they could be interested in. Then let your content speak for itself. Then, if possible on your end, say you’re open to linking their platform to yours or cross-promoting in some way, but this isn’t a necessity. For larger influencers like news/lifestyle outlets, you still want to contact a specific person. Never settle for firstname.lastname@example.org. Find a certain reporter that covers topics similar to your content and again tailor a message to them showing why your content is awesome, because it is!
7. Paid media testing
So you have some content and you want to promote it. Maybe it promotes your photography or your short film. Maybe you want to promote a non profit and raise money or maybe you just want to send a personal message to the masses. Right now the most cost efficient and robust platform for doing this is Instagram and Facebook. With just a few bucks you can reach thousands of people. Here is a link to the Facebook advertising platform where you can learn how to place your own media. One of the best things about this platform is that you can create several prices of content that are displayed to the same audience. And based off which piece of content is clicked on a shared the most, the platform will adapt to showing that piece of communication the most. So how else could we use the system in creative ways? What if you applied to Stanford using a piece of content targeted at college professors in the Stanford area codes? What if you raised awareness for your art by creating a 360 video and sent it to people interested in art in the SOHO area of NYC? These tools for creative communication are there for you to use, if you use them in creative ways.