Developing the Story
For the background of this post and video please first read part one. This post is about how I developed the story for UCI MIND’s ‘Breakthroughs in Research’ video. The big challenge here is taking a very complex subject of Alzheimer’s Disease research and making a story that is not only educational but has some emotional component as well. After all, it’s research we’re talking about. Nonetheless, I did think there was an inherent storyline based on creativity. Yes, creativity.
I interviewed a few of the researchers and quickly realized that good research is really dependent on how open minded the researcher is. They have to be to think differently and find new ways to approach dementia and its possible treatments. Basically, if a researcher isn’t creative then there is no way they are going to look at things differently and see new and innovative ways to fight such a dreadful disease. They would simply get the same old results approaching research in the same old way.
So, I got to work writing the treatment and script. My first step was to whiteboard a few concepts about life in the lab and seeing things through the eyes of a researcher. Here I had a vision for treating the environment in an artistic way. In truth, how we light and shot things really is more like the lab scenes from CSI than the actual lab. You’ll notice most of the scenes only have limited portions that are well lighted and only on the subjects of each scene. I even shot things in 60 frames per second because I knew I wanted the video to be played back in slow motion. The overall visual effect was to make things look graceful and give viewers time to visually digest what’s on screen and gain a better understanding of what actually goes on.
The second step was to figure out how to tie their work with the lives of their donors and supporters. After meeting the researchers this became a very simple task because every single person I met really cared about what they are doing and ultimately who they are serving. So, in the script I put a lot of emphasis on how UCI MIND’s values are in complete alignment with their donor’s because both groups are working towards cures and treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.
Writing the Script
Once I had the story and concept down I got to writing the script. The plan was to have two actual researchers be on camera telling UCI MIND’s story switching in between one researcher to another. Therefore, I had to write for two unique voices and perspectives yet, telling one comprehensive story. Above all, I wanted the script to convey the story in a unique way that underscore UCIM’s unique voice and point of view.
I presented the script to UCI MIND and they made very little changes except to clean up some technical aspects and terms. But in all, what you see is what was essentially what was contained in the first draft.
The last step in pre-production was storyboarding. This is one of my favorite things to do because its really the first time the story starts to come alive visually. I use a basic template of rectangles, typically nine to a page, and start sketching each scene in every box. Note, my drawing is absolutely dreadful and my storyboards look more like drawings from a three old than a 42 year old. But, they tremendously help me understand what and how to shoot as well helps the client understand the vision. Upon completing the storyboards I was really to go. It’s time for the lights, camera and action. Part three is about the actual shoot and how we got the look and feel of the video.