All the best films you’ve seen have one thing in common, whether they were movies or promotional videos on social media. They all have a killer script. It doesn’t matter how well a film is shot, how good the acting is, or how interesting the content is in principle; the video lives or dies on its script because it is the framework necessary to hold up all that other good stuff. Here’s how to write a killer script for a video.
Write a video brief
The first thing you’ll want to do when preparing your script is to write a video brief. A video brief outlines what you want your video to achieve, as well as addressing points such as the key message, budget and timeline. The video brief will help you focus so that you don’t end up overreaching, meaning you create a story that hits all of your key objectives whilst capturing the spirit of your brand.
Appeal to your target audience
All forms of marketing and video need to have the target audience in mind. This might be your existing client base, or you may be trying to break into a new market. In both scenarios, the best way to address your target audience is to put yourself in their shoes, asking yourself, ‘what would appeal to them?’. Knowing who you’re trying to reach will help to determine not only the tone of the piece but also the length, visual style and pathos.
Don’t go overboard on dialogue
Film script writers often fall into the trap of going heavy on the dialogue for the purpose of exposition, but this is possible for videos as well. Too much dialogue, especially in a short piece, takes something away from the medium. If you’re worried that your audience might not ‘get’ something without spelling it out for them, you may need to go back and revisit the action so that you can let the visuals and sound speak for themselves.
Include directions as well as speech
A script is more than just dialogue, it’s the whole story. The directions in your script should mean that whoever reads it can visualise the whole video. Try not to get too technical in the early drafts of your script – close-ups and tracking shots can be addressed in detail when you get to the storyboard stage – but you can still write your directions cinematically. Describing a character’s facial expressions infers the use of a closeup, where a description of a landscape suggests a wide or tracking shot.
Run your script past trusted colleagues
Once you have a script you’re happy with, you may be a little reluctant to let anyone else get their hands on it, but collaboration is invaluable. Having colleagues you can trust to give unbiased feedback can really boost your script. The second pair of eyes will be able to see errors or problems with the script that you may have missed – they may even be able to offer a good suggestion or two for improvements.
Revisions are an essential part of the writing process. If you’ve passed your script by some colleagues, you’re sure to have some notes to consider. In the process of making these changes, you might spark some new ideas of your own. As well as correcting mistakes and integrating some new ideas, one of the key reasons for editing is trimming the fat from your script; ask yourself where cuts can be made, and if all the scenes are really necessary. A lean script is good, but it’s better to have to cut down a script than flesh one out.
Seek support from a professional filmmaker
One of the best ways to ensure you’ve got a great script for your video is to enlist the help of a professional filmmaker, as they will have a wealth of experience in the area. Experience teaches you what works and what doesn’t in a film script, as well as whether the criteria identified in the video brief are being met. Even if you don’t want to hand over your project completely to a professional, they may be able to work with you in a collaborative or consulting capacity just to help keep you on the right track to realising your vision.
Hopefully, you’re a little better informed as to how to write a script for a video that will ensure your vision becomes a reality. The script is the heart of any good film and provides the structure necessary to keep your target audience engaged in the narrative.
If you need help writing your script or are looking for assistance with creating your video, get in touch and see how we can help.