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Secrets to More Effective Short Films

Saw this great post from Phil Cooke and knew that I’d have to re-post it here (His blog is consistently amazing; you should subscribe!).

Phil was asked recently how he would encourage all of us to make more effective short films (and I take this to mean anything that we do on video for ministry); this is good stuff!

1. Learn the art of storytelling. We hear the word “story” so much these days, it’s becoming trite, but the truth is, it’s the heart of a great film, TV, or video project. It’s most evident when I receive films and programming sent to me from church media producers around the country. The graphics are great, the music is cool, and the editing is clean. But over and over, I find they don’t know how to tell stories. No matter how short the video, make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end. Take the audience on a journey and make them glad they went on the trip.

2. Understand a “call to action.” Your job as a video director isn’t to impress the audience with your creativity, it’s to compel them toward an action. Perhaps it’s buying the pastor’s new teaching series, coming to an event, or promoting some outreach of the church. Maybe it’s simply illustrating a scripture. Whatever the point, it’s not enough just to tell the story, you also need to call the audience to action. Be creative, but don’t be afraid to be direct, and always be clear. Audiences won’t understand your intention unless you tell them.

3. Finally, move me. If you’re sharing information, use a printed piece or a website. Video is about emotion, so don’t load it down with text or numbers, make it a powerful emotional experience. If it’s a product driven video, then create a sense of urgency. If it’s sharing an update on your homeless ministry, make the audience feel their struggle. Whatever the purpose, don’t just tell me, make me feel it.

I think my favorite part of this is where he says in point 3 about emotion; I think too often, churches (or church people) can get to enamored with the idea of doing everything on video. This can become a bad habit; some information is best conveyed in print or on your church’s website. The use of video should be reserved for telling stories that take people somewhere that they might not otherwise be able to go (literally and figuratively). What stood out to you?

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