Yesterday I wrote a script for a YouTube length video–about 1:30 — and convinced my husband to spend a couple of hours running around the countryside. The weather was perfect. Late afternoon sun was fading to magic hour. I wanted an autumn look and we had it in spades. Pumpkins sprawled across fields. I also needed images and sound for the road trip aspect of October Run. Plus I wanted b-roll for a video on my next novel work-in-progress–a story of deception and illumination set in a small New England town.
Theoretically, we had everything we needed. Time, place, setting. A film scout would have been thrilled. What we lacked in direct experience, I figured we could finesse. YouTube is the forgiving medium. Plus, I’d done it at the office, right? Well, sort of. I didn’t have to run the camera or be in front of it. Script writing–that I know.
I just finished watching the clips. Martin Scorsese, you can breathe easier. World News Tonight–no worries. I won’t be edging out the laughing baby or the Cowboys Herding Cats video that I just shared with friends. Because at the moment, we have a series of clips reminiscent of Blair Witch Project. Handheld, swinging a bit wildly, the camera caught a dizzying collection of scenes with background noise equal in decibel to an Amtrak train rushing by. I do, by the way, think that we can turn this into a video.
Therefore, my top 10 Tips for Making an Author Video:
10. Decide what you want to accomplish with a video. If you don’t have a clue–skip to #1
9. Think in terms of images. Create a shoot list of images that help tell your story.
8. It’s the story, always. Videos of any length need a beginning – middle – end. Write them down.
7. Think of your favorite classic film. Chinatown? Casa Blanca? Dirty Dancing (sorry, but the end scene is a classic). Now that you thought of it, forget it. This will not be that.
6. Do you have a video camera? And no, holding your laptop in front of your face while you talk doesn’t count. You need to find a good camera with decent sound recording.
5. Write the script. Know that about 150 words=1 minute. And research shows that the drop off rate for videos is somewhere around 1 minute 30 seconds. Two minutes tops with riveting content.
4. If it’s worth putting on YouTube, and it’s representing you–give the video the same professional attention you give your book.
3. Be ready to revise, revamp and revisit the script.
2. Go ahead and shoot! You will spend more time editing than you thought possible.
1. Consider finding a video team–in many cases you can get someone who can shoot, direct and edit.
There are no shortcuts–not in writing, not in video. If it was easy, well then I guess anyone could do it.