Struwwelpeter – childhood fears return

My grand parents were from Germany. One Christmas they gave me a copy of Struwwelpeter – a German children’s book of cautionary tales. Pauline plays with matches and burns to death. Augustus won’t eat his soup and starves to death. In Little Suck-a-Thumb, Conrad has all his fingers chopped off.

SAN RAFAEL, CA., OCTOBER 2009 I’m trying to finish an edit. It’s not working. The computer’s fine; it’s me. There’s no structure. I’ve promised my client, Patrick, “ready by Friday.” I won’t make it.

There’s that noise; the front door smashed down… here comes the crazy tailor with his giant scissors.

“Du bist ein dummkopf! Ich werde ihre finger abhacken!”

“Wait! Don’t finger abhacken! I’ll use my no-brain format.”

“Angeber-braggart. Du schei?t’ mich an!” (Big mouth! You’re shitting me)”

Poof! The scary tailor vanishes. I phone Patrick. Confess. Can’t make the Friday deadline – I need him as the link person. I tried to be creative; big mistake.

Drive up to Napa. Shoot Patrick’s to-camera piece in a vineyard. We’ve got it: an opening, a middle and a closing. A spine to hang the video on. My no-brain format is a lifesaver.


Patrick – my missing link

1: Plan to shoot a head and shoulder of your client or his star turn. Just one person. He or she might protest, “I’d like to have old Bill on this, and Dorothy too…” Your job is to explain it’s just one person telling the story. You say, “We’ll see Bill and Dorothy in the video don’t worry.” Got it? ONE PERSON – no more.

2: Now shoot your client/or link person – looking at the camera lens. Frame: second shirt button down on an open neck. Ask questions – your voice will not be used. What’s the business do? How did it start? What are their goals? Who are their people? Make sure you have a good opening and closing statement.

3: Listen to what your to link person has said. Shoot B roll to cover. Get some shots of Bill and Dorothy doing something with live sync. sound.

4: Do some testimonials from customers. They are only testies – so keep them short. They are looking at you – not at the camera – only your link looks at the camera.

5: Put down 6 minutes of music in your edit timeline. Any music will do, it’s just for timing. Seems crazy but look at this way, you can make a 30 minute and then cut it down to six – or make it six, first time around.

6: Find your opening statement. Paste it over the music padding. Find the closing. Back time it to the six minute out-point. Paste over the music timeline. Hey, it’s still six minutes. See why you need a locked down six minute timeline?

Now the tough part; looking at your timeline, there’s a hole between the opening and the closing. Duh! Now fill the remaining five minutes with good sound bites from your link person (your version of my Patrick). Create a logical story – leave the picture there but it’s the audio that’s important. Forget the old “Unleash Your Creativity” claptrap. We are making a paid video for a client not for the Dogpatch Film Festival.

7: Squeeze in a testimonial here and there. Whoops – eight minutes. Trim it back. Don’t, repeat – don’t start editing B-roll visuals until all the audio is in place. When you’ve finished, you’ll have a timeline with your link person and testimonials. Listen to it. Does it tell a story? If yes – go to step 8.

8: Now’s your chance to add B roll. Paste over the talking heads but keep the audio. If the B-roll has good sync sound, use it as an “insert”. Gosh, there might even be time for flash of music.

9: Add opening and closing titles and lower thirds. Show client. Type invoice. Get paid.

10: Repeat after me: “I’d rather get paid than be creative. I am not making a piece of art, I am making a happy client.”

Watch my no-brain format video. See how Patrick glues it together. fortun.html

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