We have all seen painful tightly-scripted talking head videos, detailing how the company is responding proactively and looking towards the future, blah-de blah-de blah… A more effective approach can be to simply have a conversation, and capture key moments that really tell the tale. This takes dedication to the art of interviewing, and a lot of time in editing, but it’s well worth it for more authentic, relaxed results. If you want to create an unscripted video story of your own, here are 3 steps to get you started.
Step 1: Prepare for the Interview. Draft talking notes around issues you want to cover and get them approved. I often put these in the form of a script ‘outline’, being sure to mark it ‘OUTLINE ONLY – ACTUAL DIALOGUE TO BE TAKEN FROM INTERVIEWS’ Create a logical flow, but prepare everyone to be flexible.
Step 2: Interview with dedicated curiosity. Ask questions that lead your subject to tell the story in their own words. Then ask again in a different way. Look for topics that bring out passion and watch for lines or phrases that resonate. It’s OK to ask them to repeat something they said in a slightly different way. Take as much time as you can, and cover things more than you think you need to.
Step 3: Look for the Gold. This can be the toughest part – identifying the best bits from hours of footage and stringing them together to form a narrative. I like to look for the most passionate ‘openers’ and ‘closers’ and build around that. Be prepared to re-arrange the whole thing to a different format than your outline if that’s where the material leads. Don’t worry about having too many cuts in the interview – that’s where the rest of the beautiful footage goes!
In the examples posted here, a series of videos Unicycle Creative recently directed for the London Drugs What’s the Green Deal? program, we put COO Clint Mahlman in the unscripted interview chair. Clint is one of that rare species of executive who is both committed to a more sustainable path, and plugged in to the real-world issues that can make it happen.
Working with the London Drugs Media Services team, we talked with Clint for several hours on a sunny day in a green ravine. We also did unscripted interviews with two key buyers around their upstream procurement practices. We shot footage in-store with real-people models and employees and created simple on-screen graphics to show off the stats.
In the post-broadcast world, people are looking for authenticity and transparency. If you want to put the personality of your company out there for all to see, throw away the script, buy a few more memory cards and get the organic coffee brewing for those long days in editing.
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