December 4, 2014 Helium Films

Scriptwriting: A Project’s Backbone

Scriptwriting: A Project’s Backbone 

By Shaan.

For many of us – video professionals or clients – what makes filmmaking a fun and entertaining job is the shooting part. Cameras ready, actors prepared, light equipment in place, and action! Suddenly a whole new world is created, filled with amazing stories. Most of our clients understand the process of shooting but not necessarily what comes before or after.

Scriptwriting: A project's backbone

Scriptwriting and the development of a relevant and intelligent story often does not happen in a day (even though we often have to charge it that way). With experience and practice we created writing recipes and methods depending on the type of videos, however, each story, each brand, and each client have their own specificities that need to be well thought from the beginning.

  • Brand identity

There are a few things that can make the script writing process more efficient, and prevent bad surprises. First, does the client already have a brand identity? If yes, it will direct the look, style, and overall feeling of the video. We all recognize and remember brands like Apple, McDonald’s, Disney or Louis Vuitton because they established a strong and consistent identity. Colors, typography, and message, all of these components build the story of a brand that people can relate and identify to. But when PepsiCo’s Tropicana launched their new design for Pure Premium line, their sales dropped by 20% in only two months. They were forced to go back to their original branding design, which made their consumers happy (or at least less confused). We will see how the green bottle Coca Cola Life does… Establishing a clear identity with a specific visual branding and messaging is key for the company’s growth. And when it comes to videos, this identity must translate.

Coca Cola and Tropicana new branding test.

Having a background in advertising and strategic planning, we always enjoy creating new branding and visual identity for some of our clients who do not already have a clear one (often start ups, but also small to medium size companies). Although this process requires time and the strong involvement of both parties, it always pays off at the end and sets the company off to a good start where brand recognition can grow.

 “For a truly effective social campaign, a brand needs to embrace the first principles of marketing, which involves brand definition and consistent storytelling.”, by award-winning branding consultant Simon Mainwaring.

Word cloud: Branding

  • Setting a goal

The second important component for writing a good script is its intended goal. A video needs to aim at a specific objective to be successful. Is it for your current customers or new targets? Is it educational or promotional? Is it for the web or TV? Is it for a Kickstarter campaign or for social media platforms? Is it supposed to be funny, scary, emotional… All of these questions will lead the direction of the scriptwriting as well as the style of the production: casting, lighting, type of shots, music, etc… Having clear goals for your videos will ensure you get the most bang for your buck: something that is on point, powerful, and produce great return on investment. (if you need more on the subject, here is a bunch of powerful TED talks on “setting goals”).

  • A good example

Recently, we had an international client that wanted to make a corporate video. They were on a verge of an IPO, and needed to share their philosophy and services with prospective investors, and the general public. The challenge was to make a 6-min documentary style video introducing all the top management as well as clients and retailers. We had to shoot a mix of interviews and b-roll in 6 different countries, with 6 different languages. All this in less than 1 month! When back in San Diego for the post-production, even though we had hours and hours of footage to sort, we were able to send the first edit in only 4 days, and the final product just a few days later. How were we able to pull that off? Because we had a very detailed script that was approved by both parties before starting to shoot. With this script, we were able to streamline the shooting and editing process. We knew all along where we were going and everything ran smoothly. At the end of the day, the client was very happy and our job made easier. All this thanks to a well thought script.

Check the behind the scenes photos of our shooting.

Sometimes for the sake of fitting into the budget, preproduction takes a hit. Because most clients undervalue this part of the process, most production companies tend to minimize it and pass the costs of it in other lines of the budget. But remember that even if you have small or big production means, the story and concept is what people will remember.

Alfred Hitchcock's quote on scripwriting

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