Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


What Do They Want?

Every time someone asks me to shoot a "quick (i.e. one to three minute)" shot of someone talking, I always tell them it will take between 45 minutes and an hour.

Seriously. It takes time.

It did today. Three quick bits, each less than a minute in length... three hours. But not all that time was setting up the lights, working through the scripts, and trying to get all the elements to match up.

The last fifteen minutes or so was spent trying to figure out what these people wanted the final video to be... which is dictated by what they want it to do.

There are two main types of video genres: Informative and narrative. Either you have an information piece where you tell people stuff, or you have a narrative piece where you take people on a journey. Both are equally valid and effective for different types of things. The problem arises when people don't know what they want.

I shot a 45 second clip where two people told me (the camera/audience) some information. We wrapped up and they asked me if I would be able to throw in some shots so others could "get a feel" for what they were talking about.

Umm... not easily. See, we had just shot an informative piece, not a narrative piece. If you had clips that demonstrated your information, people could follow it. But if you want people to get drawn in to your tale, we really should have shot a narrative piece.

And that's where people get lost.

We need a story if you want people to get an introduction to who you are. We can use your descriptions if you want people to know what you are.

How do you help people figure out what they want? I'm not sure. It's not easy.

Perhaps this will help: You want to make a movie about a banana. Cool.

You want a movie where we show a banana, peel it open, cut it into pieces and eat it? Cool. That's an informative piece. You are free to talk about the technical side of the banana, and you can get people to be more informed about this particular fruit.

You want a video that makes people want to eat bananas? That's different. That requires a narrative. You need to talk about the time you found the perfect banana, how excited you were, the wonderful taste, and how great it made you feel. You need a story.

Which is right for the video you're working on?

I have no idea, but hopefully you can figure it out.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


-)_-. said...

Why Luke, you forgot Experimental!

Lets say we want to experiment with what a Banana feels before its about to be eaten. Well you would want a bunch of random scary knife shots with heavy shadows, a clip of a little girl crying, and maybe for good measure a modern art painting featuring the color yellow being overtaken by some black. Then juxtapose all these together with some hardcore music and BLAM you got yourself an experimental piece.

hmm...maybe thats why no one understands my movies.


Luke Holzmann said...

See, I would think that is a narrative piece. You're telling a story, just more "artistically" than most people understand. "Experimental" filmmaking is, in my opinion, the "modern art" of motion pictures. That kind of thing has been done many times (watched much of the early Russian stuff?), but it's still trying to tell a story...

Although, it is true: Some people create things just for the sake of putting together images. In which case, I would say that it's an exercise in filmmaking, and not a real movie. It's a compilation of test shots.

And this post was about client driven projects, which rarely consist of "let's make a movie that doesn't have a point."

Thanks for the reminder about "experimental" films. They do exist. <smile>