A couple posts back I fired up the scriptwriting software and climbed back into my video scriptwriting harness, and while the projects have passed, the lessons linger.
First, I’d forgotten the details. Or more accurately, the sheer number of them that clutter your average video.
In this instance, I didn’t just write a pair of video scripts, collect my money and then fade to black. There are a bazillion details, most of which the client probably never conceived of and can’t handle.
On a bigger corporate gig, I imagine the director and producer would handle most of these, but this project was built on a shoestring. And because the vision is yours, it’s similar to saving someone’s life; suddenly, you’re responsible for the script, and you’ll be responsible for the duration.
In this case, that meant a lot of emails and phone calls.
OK. My bad. Memory is a tricky thing and mine had apparently yellowed around the edges a little, and it cost me a couple free hours.
Still, the projects were refreshingly different and yes — they created a small nostalgic glow for my broadcast days. Which faded pretty quickly.
From the geeky writer perspective, the free, open source Celtx scriptwriting software was a big timesaver.
The effort was gratifying enough that I recently dove in and wrote a simple screencast script for a nonprofit.
It was simple and for a good cause which I understood, so it came to life easily.
Still, I’d forgotten the Cardinal, Inviolate Rule of Scriptwriting:
Nobody ever reads the things.
I got client comments for the summary, but not the script. And more client comments for… the summary. And an email concerned with a point in the…. summary.
Plus outside notes on… (wait for it), the summary.
Even the biologist/narrator showed up, filled up on coffee, and promptly admitted he hadn’t actually read the script.
OK. I sorta remember this part too.
Like so many media projects these days, there were no real pros involved, so we had to collectively trip over the barriers a seasoned veteran would have dispatched with an email.
It wasn’t a hard or involved screencast and a little spontaneity probably helped more than it hurt, but we needed more takes than were strictly necessary, and I see a few rough edges.
And while it’s amusing to read about on somebody else’s blog, it’d be a lot less funny if the client surfaced an objection to the script after it had been made.
Technically, the copywriter’s in the clear, but “technically” doesn’t book your next job for you, and not every client maintains a clear understanding of irony.
In other words, even on a simple project, make you sure get a specific sign-off on the script (I got mine via email).
Signing things tends to focus clients.
I’m done with scriptwriting for now, and next week I start a short series of classes (Online Marketing for Artists). I’ll have to pretty up my presentation and bone up on the value (or lack thereof) of portfolio sites.
A couple of online gigs remain in midstream, but the logjam is easing a bit, and I can say with a certainty I’m awfully happy about that.
Keep writing, Tom Chandler.