Your company or business is ready for your next big video production and the question naturally comes up- do you need a script in-hand before you begin the shoot? Should you have everything scripted out before the first scene is recorded? Based on our experiences, the quick and easy answer is, it depends on the project.

Case in point, our video team here at the Dubek Media Group recently completed an internal video for a large healthcare company. This particular project was highly technical and also needed the  legal team to “sign off” before the video was approved. The primary contact knew exactly what message points he wanted and needed expressed in the video and he knew he only needed two interviewees to get it done. For this particular project, it subsequently made a lot of sense to pre-script and fill in the blanks during the edit. With a little bit of coaching the interviewees, they nailed their messages and we got the B-Roll we needed, based on the script in-hand. The project was a big success.

So, when should you pre-script and when should you hold-off on scripting until after the shoot?

Pre-Script Your Project

-when the shots and messages are known upfront. Highly technical videos, training videos, internal policy and communication videos may all be examples of appropriate projects to script before shooting. Often, it is next to impossible for any interviewee to perfectly communicate all needed messages, while also appeasing the legal team. So leave nothing to chance and pre-script. Additionally, it goes without saying, videos like commercials and PSA’s should never be “winged”. Script accordingly.

Post-Script Your Project

-when the shots and messages are unknown upfront. Examples would include live events, non-formal meetings, ad-libbed demonstrations, and reaction-based videos. For these types of projects, it is not unusual for us to begin our edited video with something completely unexpected. So, while we could have thought it through in advance and produced a script, often times we would need to rewrite anyways based on some of the unexpected and non-planned visuals we encounter.  So I recommend creating a shot list instead of a formal script. That way you get the shots and interviews you know the client wants, but you have the flexibility to get creative and use the best visuals or messages which come your way. We find that our TV news instincts work well for these kinds of situations so we do not fear the unexpected!

The pre-script and post script plans both work well. The key is your willingness to adapt,  based on the merits of each individual project.