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Script Writing

So what is a script?  Well without overstating its role the script is the single most important aspect of any video production, yet for all that it’s often the thing most neglected and undervalued.  Script writing, be it for corporate video, a training video or promotional video is not a rehash of copy from the web site and it’s not an adaptation of a sales brochure or patched together from any previous source as is often the habit.

The script is the reason for making a video – it’s the core message – everything you want to say. The script is the foundation on which everything else depends. 

While the script obviously contains all the information the video must contain it’s the concept that allows the writer the freedom to present that information in a way that makes it interesting to the audience.  Our script writing for corporate videos and particularly training videos is rather like a layer cake with all essential information as the base layer forming the foundation of the production.  Carefully laid over that is the story and over that are the characters that will bring it all to life.  Finally on the top is the concept that binds it all together.

We recently applied this technique to a production for the National Trust.  Instead of rather dry production to catalogue the history of a Victorian walled garden, we used the concept of a ghost story to engage the audience.  The story it told was that of a middle-aged woman who visited the garden very early on a summer’s morning.  Not long after arriving she had a chance encounter with a strangely dressed elderly gentleman.  She put both his appearance and manner down to eccentricity as he returned her interest in the garden by revealing it as it was in its Victorian heyday – the very time when he was head gardener.

Script writing – what happens when.

Before scripting can begin the writer needs to spend time understanding the content or subject, after all it’s impossible to write about something you don’t fully understand.  This is often described as pre-production research. Clients will often suggest that they write the script as they have knowledge of the subject and while this is true it rarely works because they don’t have knowledge of the video making process and the ability to mentally link words with images.  A good writer will do their pre-production research and along the way agree the major points that must be covered.  Next they will come up with a choice of concepts to build the script around.  Only when the client has agreed the concept will a first draft of the script be prepared and submitted for approval.  Depending on the complexity of the production this may be repeated many times over several drafts until both client and writer are satisfied.  This is now ‘signed-off’ and becomes the basis of the all important shooting script that follows.

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