“Writing” a script for a video or television piece is inherently destructive to the quality of the storytelling.
I know this may sound heretical, but it is true.
We are working in a medium of picture and sound. We should keep true to the medium.
Shooting video, then transcribing it or taking time-code notes, writing the script on paper, and then using that paper to transfer back to video degrades the quality of the work – intellectually. It is as though a painter would set out to write an essay about what the painting should look like, and then proceed to try and paint it from the written notes.
It does not make any sense.
Of course, when I learned how to make TV, whether news stories or documentaries or cable shows, this is how they were all done.
But there is another, better way.
Let’s go back to Fluffy’s story once more.
We all agree (and to may it is self evident) that we begin with the most powerful shot.
Fluffy on the operating table.
Now we have the viewer’s attention.
We put up the shot to open the piece, and now we have to ask ourselves, ‘what is the viewer thinking when they see this?’
We know it will get their attention, but we have to now take advantage of that moment.
If you have done this right, not only will you have the viewer’s attention, but they will also be thinking something. Show them the shot of the dog and they will be thinking, ‘what happened to the dog?’
Stop and think about this for a moment.
All across the country, every who is watching the first shot is thinking exactly the same thing at exactly the same time.
This is a pretty impressive trick.
And now you have a moment to capture the audience as yours.
All you have to do is talk to them.
‘To’ them… as opposed to ‘at’ them.
Everyone who is watching this is thinking the same question at the same time – ‘what happened to the dog’.
All you have to do is answer the question.
“Fluffy was hit by a car and may die”.
By saying this, you raise another question: “will the dog die?”
Again, you have no choice but to answer the question: “there is only one man who can save fluffy”
Now, everyone is thinking the same thing at the same time – ‘who is that man?”
And again, you have no choice but to answer the question in everyone’s mind: “His name is Dr. Jarvik”
You put up the video, it makes people think of a question. You answer the question, they think something else, you respond to what they are thinking.
This is not so much a ‘script’ that drives information down people’s throats – sit there and take this. It is rather a dialogue with the audience. You are in conversation with them. Except it is a conversation in pictures as well as sound. The pictures drive the question – you answer the question with narration or sound and another picture. That answer drives yet another question.
Dialogue…. no script.
See the difference?
It is the same way we tell the story to our spouses at the dining room table. We don’t recite a script – we engage in a conversation.
“You’ll never believe what happened today”
“This dog was hit by a car”
“yeah – and then, this kid came in with the dog..”
Storytelling… dialogue. Conversation.
This makes for much more engaging stories – and much more engaging scriptwriting