The scripting phase can be really hard and feel somewhat tedious. Now that you’ve got your idea, you can feel like you’re ready to go, and you start asking: can’t we just figure out the exact dialogue on the day? Do I really have to write down detail besides dialogue? etc… And if you come to actually write a script, you might get frustrated because you find that you can’t put exactly what you’re thinking on paper. It can be easy to skimp on it so that you can avoid doing it. But don’t give up. Putting in some time now will save you time later (in shooting and editing), and will give you a better product.
The reason why it’s hard is the same reason you need to do it. Though you’ve got the idea in your head, you want to be able to execute it in a way that your audience can see as close to what was going on in your head to begin with. If you can’t put that down on paper clearly, then you’re going to struggle to film it and edit it to the way you want – it will be different to your idea (sometimes by fluke this can work out really well; some people even choose to work in a way that ‘let’s the art happen’; but most of the time, scripting well will get you the best result).
What you’re aiming for is a document that has all the dialogue down exactly as you picture it being said. Along with this will be actions going on in the scenes that need to happen. From what you write down, someone should almost be able to ‘watch’ your film in their head as they read. At the least, you should be able to ‘watch’ your film in your head in full, knowing almost exactly how you want it to look. Can you see how this will help you? You will then be in a place where you know what shots you will need to make the film. You will know the way that you want the actors to portray their characters. You will have a sense of timing. You might even be starting to think of appropriate music that would match scenes. You’ll also have started the process of getting in your head how you are going to edit your video.
For me, this process can take a while, mainly because when I see the script that I’ve come up with, it hasn’t usually captured exactly what my idea was going for. I have a friend (Guan**) who is a great writer and has a creative mind. I always send him a script that I’ve started on. He’s usually been involved in brainstorming through the idea with me, so he knows something of that. He’ll have a go at rewriting the script – taking out what he doesn’t think works, adding in bits that he thinks of, and tweaking others. When I get it back, I’m always impressed. There’s stuff in there that I think is exactly what the idea was going for but that I would never have thought of. There’s some stuff also that I think is not quite what the idea was going for too. So I do the same back. Eventually, after a bit of back and forth script-editing, we’ve come up with something that we both think matches the idea pretty well, and is ready to move on to the next step of storyboarding. Get the point? Someone who can read through the script and give you feedback is really helpful!
Scripting is even important when you’re doing a vox pop or interview. You should be able to write down what kind of content grabs you’re looking for. This will take some research and thought, as well as some initial interviewing so you can get to know what the person is thinking (preferable, though obviously not possible with vox popping unless you ask them what they’d say before you film them). With an interview, you still want to create a story or movement. The idea is still crucial. The video needs to have a point. Scripting something will help you prepare for this.
Please comment if you want any more details about the above step.
If you want to see an example of this, check out my post that details a bit of how I went through the 8 steps in making a recent film.
Next step: Storyboard Everything!
This post is part of the series 8 Steps to Making a Video
** I have to put in a plug for Guan’s most recent publication. It’s called ‘Kinds of Blue‘. It’s an anthology of comics that help people understand more of what a person suffering from depression goes through, and it’s simply brilliant. Please do your friends a favour (because you’re bound to know someone with depression) and buy this so you can consider how to better be there for them. You can order it here.