When I was a young reporter working in Charlotte NC, I would inevitably sit down at my typewriter (yep, back in the days before computers) and have paralyzing writer’s block. Like, look at the clock and know that you have to tell a story, tell it fast, make the storytelling interesting and factually correct.
My news director, who terrified me at the time, told me something that still makes me smile, and at the time assured me that I was, indeed, capable of the task.
“Kim, tv news ain’t brain surgery.”
In other words, an inadvertent omission or name misspelling or a mispronunciation would not leave anyone horribly damaged for the rest of their lives.
Storytelling television news-style as well as storytelling in film and video production by today’s standards boil down to the same basics.
The best production companies we know start with the storytelling basics- the 5 W’s. Who, What, When, Where and Why. If you answer all those questions, you have the outline of an at least adequate storyline.
From here, you can finesse. I like to look at the body of information and siphon out the most compelling video or fact to start with. It’s the journalistic hook. Then, you simply build the story, allowing the information to flow until you have covered your 5 W’s and drawn the conclusion you want viewers to walk away with. Whether that’s the nudge they need to buy your product or donate to your non-profit, the story structure is basically the same.
What differentiates a great production company from the others is the art of marrying the visuals with the script. Both offer their own story and when they are in sync, your story is unforgettable, persuasive and delightful.