The number one way to start telling a good story is to pick a good story to tell. Sounds simple? Not all stories lend themselves to video. The first test of whether a video is merited for any story is -- is this a visual story?
To tell the truth, I'm not a huge fan of much of the video I see on the web. Just because you're talking into a camera and telling me what you think -- doesn't necessarily create compelling video story making. I mean if you are George Clooney or ScarJo, I'll watch anything. But if you're not...
STICK WITH PROCESS
Show me a process. Show me how things work. Show me a cycle from begining to end. Layer the details along side the process and your information is easily digested.
Recently, I with Wheelhouse pitched to The Daily (the iPad only newspaper) a story of a street artist in New York City who paints the most unbelievable Renaissance style chalk drawings on the sidewalk. I've passed his drawings for years walking around town and always wondered who he was.
VIDEO ENHANCES THE STORY WHEN YOU CAN SEE A PROGRESSION
I looked up Hani, the sidewalk artist, on the web and sure enough he had a website with clippings of articles done on him in the New Yorker, The New York Times, The Daily News and others. Was it a bad idea to do a profile on him since others had already discovered him? I don't think so. To me, what was missing was a video that showed him working from beginning to end - how he creates these sidewalk masterpieces.
The editor at The Daily liked the idea and we set out to tell his story.
SHOW THE PROCESS WHILE TELLING THE STORY
I knew I wanted the visuals to drive the story so I made sure that I could capture Hani completing a portrait in 8 hours.
We picked a subject (Madonna and Child) that he could finish in that time.
I taped him with an unmanned HDSLR camera shooting a frame every 30 seconds. I also filmed him with a separate camera for about 6 hours doing various time-lapses on specific parts of the drawing so that we could see the drawing build over time. We also captured B-roll of Hani interacting with pedestrians, setting up, and walking away.
The process of him making a portrait was the perfect B-roll to play over his interview. In the interview, he told us where he was from, what motivates him, his dreams, and what his paintings mean.
A much easier production would have been to interview him and show his collection of stills of past works. Hani had a treasure trove of stills of his recent work. But that would have been BORING. Easier. But dull.Show the process.
Here's a link to the finished video: