There is a recommended creative and content development workflow for producing TV commercials and marketing videos that involve on-camera interviews as the primary storytelling device. A script per se isn’t needed typically prior to a shoot, which includes on-camera interviews as the primary storytelling device. In fact, for interview-based and documentary-style storytelling, it’s challenging to develop a script until interviews are captured and the production company begins working with the sound bite content to develop the story.
One standard methodology for interview-based and documentary-style video storytelling involves these recommended steps:
• Question & Key Statements List— Use an Interview Question List based on the content and key messages established, in collaboration with the client, during the Discovery and Creative Development phases of a project. Then, the director works with the interview subjects to capture the best and most compelling interview sound bites at the shoot. Also consider developing a Key Statements list that is a short list of sound bites envisioned as part of the final video. These Key Statements are developed in conjunction with the client and can be captured during the interview process as well. The Key Statements are spoken in the interview subject’s own words and ensures the video production team is capturing the necessary content to tell a compelling story and stay on message.
• Content Cut Development— Next, during the initial phase of video editing, the production company develops what is called a Content Cut (this is also the first cut that a client will review). The Content Cut is a selection of the most compelling sound bites, arranged in a logical order, that best tell the story. The Content Cut does NOT INCLUDE b-roll footage, music or graphics as these elements are added during the 2nd and Final Cut stages of the video editing process. It’s often recommended that clients review the content cut with their eyes closed, so that they can focus solely on hearing the story that’s been assembled from the captured sound bites.
The Content Cut is essentially the “script” that forms the story and narrative for the video. It’s a critical and foundational element from which all future editing passes are built upon. Clients give feedback and input during the Content Cut stage. Working closely with the client, the production company modifies and finesses the sound bites to create the most engaging and powerful story possible.
• B-Roll, Finishing & Polish— Once the video production team locks in and has an approved content cut, the focus is next on the 2nd and Final Cut phases of editing. During these phases b-roll visuals, music, graphics, effects, image, color grading and overall polish, is added to the video. The editing style, pace, energy and “look and feel” are implemented during these phases.
The content development workflow for interview-based and documentary-style video storytelling outlined in this article has proven to be a successful approach on a variety of marketing, advertising and TV commercial video projects. It works because it captures authentic and impromptu interview content from interview subjects based on careful key messaging planning upfront. Once compelling sound bites are captured during the interviews, there will be a plethora of options to craft a powerful story during the video editing process.