RKW Slate Pic 2.jpg

“Will we have to tell our own story?” asked a client during our first creative meeting for a new video.

“No,” I responded, “and yes.”

Hearing myself, I understood the puzzled look.

it was a great question. Because it got me thinking about the nuances of what we do when we create interview-based video. We’re so close to the process, that sometimes we lose sight of all the steps involved.

The project: create a video for a non profit organization in Portland, Oregon telling the powerful story of a family helped by the organization’s outreach and social services.

Authenticity was critical. So, rather than scripting the story and using a narrator, we proposed working within an interview format that allows the story to be told by the people closest to it. In that sense, those involved would be telling the story. 

I explained that -- even in this interview-based approach -- structure and story arc were still critical and our choices would have a significant influence on the video.

In pre production, we would begin to “find” the story by interviewing those involved and reviewing background material.  We would further shape the story by crafting questions to bring out the major points we wanted to make based on our agreed objective.

Finally, during the shoot, we would work with those on camera to build trust and help them feel comfortable enough to speak from their heart.

In post production, shaping the story would accelerate, finding and piecing together the key moments delivered by our “storytellers.”  We would create a strong narrative flow within a three-part structure, letting our interviewees drive the video forward in their own words.

behind the scenes we would leverage impactful photos and “B” roll, add music (if appropriate), color correct, and check and sweeten audio. 

The process involves a lot more than meets the eye, and reminds us that video is a clear collaboration with clients to help bring their stories to life.

Interested in examples of our video storytelling? Please visit




You can have the best camera and lighting equipment on the market and still create lousy video. 

Why? Because quality interview-based video is all about establishing a good rapport with your subject and putting them at ease to be their best. That’s the big secret. Whether it’s a video for your business, a case study, or testimonial, you cannot create good rapport in post production. 

You can try to mask a lackluster interview with graphics and music swells, but if you’re trying to capture a genuine connection with your on-camera subject, you need to be able to help them feel safe enough to be themselves.

If you can do this, you get something magical. Authenticity. Honesty. Believability. And your subject does not even have to be the most dynamic individual to be interesting, They Just need to be connected to what they are saying.

So, next time you're writing a script or in pre production on a video for your organization or small business, spend some time thinking about how you will direct your on-camera talent.  

If possible, talk to the person you will be interviewing prior to the shoot -- either by phone or face to face. A lot of subtlety can be conveyed when you hear someone's voice as opposed to just exchanging a barrage of emails or texts.  

Even a short conversation can put both you and your subject at ease and help establish trust. It will make a big difference when you get to the set or location and pay big dividends in the editing room.

Because once you capture a natural, conversational interview, the rest you really can do in post. 

Don't Skip The Script

RKW Scripts.jpg

I’ve seen it happen many times. The Communications Director gets a call from a C-Suite exec, Marketing Director, or VP of Human Resources to create a video. 

The deadline is tight. The strategic direction is vague. Panic ensues. 

If there is an in-house video department, the key person from that department is summoned for a meeting. If the organization does not have in-house video capability, a local production company or freelancer is called in to work on it.

There’s only one problem. There’s no concept for the video, no outline, and no script.

Whether it’s a video testimonial, "talking-head" interview with an executive, or introducing a new HR initiative -- the most successful video projects have one thing in common. They start with a script. 

Why? Because video is a temporal creative art, not static. Like music, it has an arc. And, while it ebbs and flows as it moves along, a script provides the through-line that keeps the audience tied to the overall objective. Think of it as a spine.

You can even use a script when the video is interview-based and a conversational tone is critical. While you never want to write out answers for interview subjects, you will absolutely want to shape your questions to guide subjects to hit your main points. 

Think a script is creatively limiting?  Not true.  

Having a script:

  • Provides you with important creative parameters to keep you on message
  • Reveals where your video needs to be "broken out" visually to sustain interest
  • Ensures that you have a story arc -- a clear beginning, middle, and end
  • Informs the production team what footage needs to be captured
  • Gives you a concrete way to present to clients before you start shooting
  • Allows the production team to plan for the shoot and maximize your dollars

So next time you get that panic call, take a deep breath...and don’t skip the script.