My quickest script writing session ever!

A few weeks ago, I was approached by a colleague to collaborate on a quickie corporate video. Even before the first meeting with the client, we could feel the deadline approaching like a tropical storm. So speed was key. But we couldn’t compromise production values.

Initial client meetings can be nebulous. You listen to what the client wants from the video, you ask questions to narrow the options and focus the goals, but you often leave that meeting with a yellow pad full of vague possible approaches, to be sorted through later. We couldn’t afford that.

By the time this gathering was drawing to a close, we had defined the audience and purpose: it would be shown internally to employees around the world and would introduce them to the company’s commitment to philanthropy. We knew the length—no more than two and a half minutes—and some of the key elements. It was Friday. We agreed that I would start writing the script on Monday.

And then the scriptwriting muse whispered in my ear: “No, write a draft now, immediately, before leaving the building.” “Seriously?” I answered, “I’ve never done that. I need time to contemplate.” “No, you don’t. No thinking needed … just write.”

Giving the muse the benefit of the doubt (which you should almost always do) I asked one member of the client’s team to stay, because she knew the content and I sure didn’t. Luckily for me, she agreed. I took a script template from a handy folder on my MacBook Pro and jumped right in. She was on the other side of the conference room table, so we started a Skype screen sharing session to be on the same page—literally.

BTW, if you’d like to download my tried-and-true script template to use on your own videos, right-click here. One of the options that pop up should allow you to download the file.

We’d agreed that there should be about 45 seconds of narration in this video. The rest of the time would be filled with pre-existing interview bites from philanthropic projects around the world. We didn’t know yet what these would be, so as the client and I crafted voiceover copy line by line, we simply filled in a bunch of scenes with the words “[insert sound bite(s)]”

The point is that after only a half hour or forty-five minutes we had a complete first draft script, albeit with holes for interview bites. The client had contributed facts and company messages, and I had contributed script-writing experience and savvy.  The cool thing was that the client could take this instant script and distribute it to her colleagues right away for comments and approvals.

Amazingly, the narration in the final script turned out to be really close to the draft we had cobbled together in well under an hour.

If you’d like to look at that first draft, right-click here. One of the options that pop up should allow you to download the file. (I’ve changed names and identifying features, so that you won’t be able to tell who the client was.)

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: knocking out the first draft this way was really fun!

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