Join Eduardo Angel for an in-depth discussion in this video Writing/visual storytelling, part of Video for Photographers: 2 Filmmaking on Location.
- The whole process is called video production. But production is when we are shooting the project, and that is informed by the previous step which is pre-production. And the pre-production phase is where we prepare our shoot, where we build our story, determine the tools the we're going to need. How many people, the budget, the time, all that. So, my very first starting point on any video project is understand what is the concept. What is the idea? How am I going to approach this unique story? So, a great starting point is the website for the client that you are shooting for.
In this case, I'm shooting for a winery. So I go to the winery's website, and I read about the mission that they have, like techniques, winemaking. What are the concepts that are important for them? What kind of grapes? What do they have? What kind of weather do they have? Do they have other videos? Do they have examples of other content? Do they have pictures? And based on that, I continue my research about the region, the weather, the grapes, the farm-making techniques, whatever it is. It changes from project to project, but the process is pretty much the same.
Once I have enough information, I start writing a story, and that's my script. And the script is the heart of a video production, of any production, because that's where everybody can reference to. If I have interviews, they will be referenced by the script. The shots that I need will be referenced by that. Even the editing stage, when the editor is working on the footage that I captured, it will be informed for by the script. That's the structure of the project. So, the script is really the heart of the project.
There are a lot of free or paid script-writing applications, and the standard in Hollywood is called Final Draft. You don't need to buy anything. You can use Microsoft Word, and I actually use Google Docs. I love Google Docs because I write a script, or my story, and I can share that with other people. And we always have a master copy. There are no versions, two or three or four. That's where I start. I put everything together there.
And then, once I have the story, once I have a very clear story, I start adding the shots that I would like to get. For example, for the winery, they are in central Oregon in a region that is considered high-desert. It's very dry, so they have volcanic soil. The volcanic soil is very dry. And it's very important, water is very important for a winery. So I imagine a shot of a close-up, or extreme close-up, of a rough hand with dirt there.
And then I can show that, and having someone talking about the soil. So I add that to my text. I have my Google document, or my Microsoft Word document, and then I add, the way I do it, in blue I add "get extreme close-up "of dirt or soil on rough hand," done. The first step is, I create a shot list, and it's simply just a list, just like a laundry list, or a shopping list, exactly the same. So you put a shot list of all the things that you would like to get.
So, let me show you what I mean by that. Here in Microsoft Word, I have the first version of my script. And I have the concept and the story that I think we can shoot there. The second version of my script is this, the same story, but I have added the shots I would like to get as part of the text. So, the volcanic soils, shot close-up of, and extreme closeup of a dirty rough hand with soil. So that's great. The third step is I go to Google Keep, and I have my shot list.
So I have all the things that I would like to get. Why is this important? Because we are creative people, and it's very easy that we get distracted by that cool shot. And what if we get on the roof and shoot from there? And what if we get a drone? It's very easy that we get distracted. And at the end of the day, we come back and we have a bunch of pretty pictures that are disconnected, that are not part of the story. So that's why it's very important to keep a shot list handy, and organize all your ideas in some sort of concept.
Once I have all this information, once I have done the research, I have my story. I have the shots I want, I often have a conference call with the client, and then I bounce ideas with them. And see, this is what I would like to get. Is this what you are looking for? Is this the idea that you want? Because at the end of the day, it's a promo piece for them. It's a promo piece for their winery, for their website. So, does this match, this idea match what you want? And more often that not, it's a lot more than they expected, because they know what they do today, but they haven't done as much research on the visuals on how to accomplish that story.
So that's a great starting point. And the next step is to determine, ok, what are the tools that I need to shoot this story? And based on the tools that I need, what's the kind of crew, how many people do I need to pull this off? And what will be the budget, both in time of money and in terms of time to accomplish all this. And that's what the next movie is about.
Join Emmy-winning filmmaker Eduardo Angel on set at a beautiful winery in Oregon, where he captures stills, video, and sound for a promotional clip. Witness all the steps, from concept to delivery, from the perspective of a two-man crew, traveling light and working with a limited budget—a situation most shooters encounter nowadays.
Eduardo covers topics such as location scouting, working with available light, and getting great interviews. He also shows his favorite gear and even shares tips on packing!
Make sure to watch Video for Photographers 01: Filmmaking Essentials to brush up on the key technical concepts.
- Establishing the best time of day to shoot
- Selecting and packing equipment
- Getting the right coverage
- Working with natural and artificial light
- Recording soundscapes
- Backing up your footage
- Editing in Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Lightroom
- Delivering the final video to your clients