By Chris Karel published March 28, 2017

Can I save money if I write the script?

If you are a marketing manager or business owner and you need to make a video, then this blog post is for you.

Yes. You can reduce your overall budget by writing the script yourself.

If you plan to write the script yourself, please consider these three suggestions: learn the basics of screen direction, negotiate with your video vendor to have a professional scriptwriter revise your draft at least once, and most importantly get buy-in and approval.

Business script basics
Business video scripts are more than just copy. A script also includes screen direction, or words that tell an editor, camera operator, or actor what to do. Here’s an example from a very trustworthy Cleveland business partner (wink, wink).

Here are some basic screen direction terms:

TRT, which stands for total running time, is the duration of the video in minutes and seconds.

The business purpose, or purpose, is the reason why you are making the video. The location, or setting, is where the actual shot will be filmed.

Direction for the actor usually includes cues or suggestions for the talent on how they should behave during a particular scene.

Direction for the camera is most commonly stated in focal length and movement, such as “MS static,” which means a “medium shot” where the camera is not moving.

Props are objects that actors will use on the set. Overlays are graphic elements that are “overlaid” onto the image by an artist (common examples are TEXT and Graphic like a lower third.

Editor direction is your way to tell the editor who may or may not be on the film shoot, what to do with the captured video.

Finally, sound design includes background music or even sound effects that add to the story.

Professional Scriptwriting Revision
New-to-video scriptwriters tend to put too many words on the page. A seasoned scriptwriter understands how to: craft concise language that targets an audience, suggest the proper direction for the camera crew, acting talent, visual effects artist, and a video editor, and they also understand the effect of sound and music on the visuals.

Here’s some genericized copy, similar to copy that I received from a client, who opted to write the script himself and then allow me to revise it for production.

The most important thing you need to know about installing this widget is that you shouldn’t be doing it if you aren’t wearing the proper protective equipment, such as eyewear, grip gloves, canvas coveralls. It is mandatory to put these on before you start your shift and wear them at all times while on the floor. This is very important.

My revised script looked like this:

Do you see the differences? 23 words instead of 56. Each of the 23 words carries weight and power to the audience.

To help my clients write a script for the first time, I like to provide them with a video script template and an example from another project. So, when I receive the first draft of the script, I can apply my scriptwriting polish while saving valuable time and money on the project.

Buy-in and approval
Internal buy-in and approval at the script stage of pre-production will also save you lots of money because you won’t have to pay for costly re-shoots. Once your script has been revised by a professional, show it to everyone on your team or in your department who has review authority.

Beg, plead, and demand that your boss take the time to review the script with you.

Teach him or her about what is on the visual and audio side of the script. Paint a picture so that she can give you critical feedback on the direction of the video. Stress that spending an hour on the script could mean saving thousands of dollars later when things don’t go as everyone thought they would.

Like I said in an earlier post, scriptwriting is a skill that any competent writer can achieve. With a little coaching from a professional scriptwriter, along with some key templates and examples, you can arrive at a professional quality script for all types of video products.

Happy writing.

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