A big thank you to Tom Antl, producer and director of Groovy Like a Movie, for greeting our class at the studio and showing us the behind-the-scenes for big and smaller projects: a studio for large crowds, another for smaller groups (including guests on Skype), a podcasting studio, editing and production rooms, the hair and makeup room, etc.
Motion Designer Ryan Trenhaille also talked about his experiences working on films such as, Titanic 3D, Thor, Captain America, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and The Avengers.
Writer and producer Robert Watkins shared some best practices and tips about writing for video, and the differences in writing for web, video, or technical brochures. Anyone want to try diagramming sentences?
Some other tips from Robert, Ryan and Tom:
- Don’t blow it on grammar. Make sure someone else proofreads your work.
- Make sure you understand what the problem is your customer is trying to solve.
- Writers need to have a big hard drive in the back of their head. They might talk for four days to subject matter experts. Then comes the sifting to pull out the important bites that the end-user or audience needs to experience and know.
- When talking to the customer or subject matter expert, always remind them that their information is good, but keep asking, “What are the three absolute, must-knows for the audience?”
- Don’t try to adopt someone else’s voice. Yours is the best. Don’t, don’t try to find a corporate voice or use corporate speak.
- For web, you need to keep feeding your reader tasty bites of information, so they’ll keep coming back for more.
- Video writing is different than web. You’ll want to show the big picture and use storytelling techniques.
- You might develop three personas to represent three types of readers, rather than the one we’ve mentioned in class. (Jane will want to read everything. Bill just wants to know how to hold back the horses …)
- Make your information and story manageable. It can be dense, as long as your audience can get a handle on it. Think of the kettlebell, which is heavy, but easy to hold, as opposed to a mattress, which is so unwieldy.
- Often you only get one shot for filming, such as Groovy Like a Movie’s outreach project, filming sea turtles in Mexico. Make sure you’re focused on the story and you have done your homework before the filming starts.
- Remove all your prepositions. Remove all “thats”.
- Try diagramming sentences! You’ll quickly see your linguistic logic.
Lynda Felder teaches Multimedia Writing at Platt College San Diego. She has written extensively for both print and digital media, for corporations, non-profits and education. Received a Hopwood Award for poetry as well as awards and recognition for marketing literature, websites, and computer-based training.