So, you’ve decided that you’d like to produce a video that communicates your organisation's impact in the community… But what are the first steps?
Before you start thinking about the narrative of the video or the production company that you’d like to work with, you need to consider why you want to produce a video, any limitations for the project, and the ethical considerations around social impact storytelling.
The first thing to think about is the desired outcome of the video – what would you like the video to achieve? You may want to create awareness about a program or partnership, raise money, inspire your staff, recruit new team members, update your community, thank your donors, advocate about an issue, or a combination of these things.
If you start by exploring why you want to produce a social impact video, it will be much easier to figure out the best way to do it.
The next important step is to think about the message that you would like to convey, which is different to your video’s purpose. Think about your message as the vehicle for achieving your purpose. For example, your message in a fundraising campaign might be: "we have had an incredible impact on individuals’ lives through our programs, but we need help to continue this important work" or "the generous people who choose to support our organisation gain a sense of fulfillment, and create a family legacy that will live long into the future – this could be you".
When you’re thinking about the message, it’s important to consider the tone as well – how do you want the audience to feel? Should they be inspired, emotional or shocked? I always believe that it’s best to focus on the positive aspects of a story (such as hope and resilience), rather than building a message around hardship and suffering. Optimism gives your audience a vision for a better world, and it will be more empowering for the participants featuring in your video as well.
The next thing to think about is the people who will be viewing the video. How do these people think? How do they behave? What are their priorities? What do they care about most? Do they understand the issue, or will they have no idea? Are they aware of your organisation, or is this their first contact with you?
By understanding your audience, you will be much more likely to successfully engage and influence them.
At this stage, it’s time to figure out the financial parameters for your video project. Everyone would love to produce a beautiful Spielberg-like masterpiece, but it may not be possible within your marketing or fundraising budget. Whether you have a strict budget or not, you may want to chat with a video production company to learn about their rates. This will give you an idea about what's possible – this may include the number of days for filming or the number of video outcomes, potential filming locations, or even the quality of the production.
If you've defined the purpose, message, audience, and a ballpark budget for your video project – you’ve made the perfect start.
Before you get started with the video production process, it's really important to explore some of the ethical issues that could arise from the storytelling process - especially if you're planning to feature participants who have experienced trauma or disadvantage.
For example, you might need to consider:
- How will you make sure the video participants feel empowered throughout the video production process, rather than exploited?
- How will the video's message achieve your desired outcomes, without anyone telling participants how to share their own story?
- How will you ensure the video production team operates in a respectful and considerate way?
Then, it's time to start pre-production! You can begin finding stories within your organisation, choosing the right participants to share their story, and partnering with your ideal video production company. Good luck!
Written by Michael Johnston, Creative Director at Momentary
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