By Alan Graner
Never forget: your narration is written to be spoken, not read. This isn’t brochure copy. Your words should sound like a real human is speaking them.
Then determine whether the narrator(s) be V.O. or on camera.
If on camera, will the narrator be static? Walking around (remember those camera relocates)? Giving a demo?
Will there be dramatic interactions, such as dramatizing a sales technique? If so, will it be scripted or improvised?
If the video will be translated into other languages, voice over is the preferred method because the English track can be easily pulled and the foreign track laid in. If there are music and effects, they will remain unaffected.
Narration is often where you can drop in suggested FX, such as a the hum of machinery or someone typing.
You can suggest music if it’s intrinsic to your story; otherwise it’s the director’s choice
Expects lots of rewrites.
Your biggest competition is the movies. Since all the executives critiquing your script have watched movies, they sometimes want super effects or CG or animation or drama. Calmly explain none of this is in the budget…unless then want to add another $100K.
Your biggest frustrations usually come from executives who can’t visualize the script (and most can’t). They’ll ask why you didn’t talk about the MXIIa’s easy-to-use interface, and you’ll have to patiently explain its covered in the visual. They may nod and say “oh,” but chances are they still don’t get it.
Another rule of thumb: the bigger the organization, the more people who have script approval, the longer it takes to get approvals and the worse your headaches. I’ve actually received scripts where a section is circled with the handwritten comment on one margin stating “expand this” and in the other margin the comment “delete this.”
The production company
Ideally your script will be produced by professional production company that will direct, film, score and edit it.
Don’t be surprised if they make their own changes. Often directors encounter things on set you never thought of, or they know a better way of filming a scene than you suggest. Rein in your ego and listen to them (unless they completely miss the idea). The director is king.
Also, don’t feel hurt if you’re not invited to the shoot. Scriptwriters often aren’t.
Call to action
If your script requires a call to action, there are a couple of ways to do it. One is to have the phone number or web URL scrolling along the bottom, or supered over the final visuals as they fade to black, or simply offered as the final scene.
If you’re interested in writing a script, if might be helpful to read some first to see how they’re structured and how visuals and narration mesh.
Anything you’d like to add?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA based marketing communications firm. If you want to incorporate video into your PR campaign, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.