Re. Screenwriting

Subject: Re. Screenwriting
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 25 May 1995 12:51:00 LCL

Several readers (writers?) have correctly noted that you should go to
the professionals to create a video if you have no experience and/or
equipment and/or time. If your company's future depends on the video,
you'd be well advised to seek professional help (double entendre
unintended). But to be devil's advocate, I'd have to state that videos
aren't as scary as you might believe:

1. We produce our own videos using an Amiga and the video toaster. I
won't set them up against commercial sitcoms for quality, but they
work just fine for us, thank you plenty. There's a myth that you have
to do Hollywood to be any good, and advertising firms will happily
take your cash if you buy into the myth. Writing a good screenplay
requires you to think visually: as a simplistic but useful test, sit
down with any TV program (documentaries work better than sitcoms) and
write down how you would have scripted any 15-minute sequence. Set
this aside until tomorrow. Then, go back and see if you can decipher
your instructions and if the results match (or beat) what you saw on
TV. If so, you think visually. If not, hire a pro!

CAVEAT: Don't jump into an important production without practice. Try
a short video first, and get lots of eager critics to jump on it with
both feet. If you survive the criticism, you're ready to try something
more complex. And DON'T try a NOVA documentary until you've mastered a
few 15-minute segments.

2. Voiceovers: Get someone who reads well. This is a bit of a
tautology, but if they can read the script well onto a tape, they'll
work just fine. Someone else suggested "let your ears be the judge",
to which I add a hearty amen!

3. If you want professional help but can't afford the prose (pun
intended), try your local university or college. Many such places have
drama programs (for voiceovers) and film programs (for editing,
storyboarding, etc.) that offer students with exceptional skills and
good (often superb) production facilities. You'll save money and be
helping a student to acquire needed skills.

--Geoff Hart =#8^{)} <-- devil's advocate, not cuckold!
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: These comments are my own and don't represent the opinions
of the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada.


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