Video Production Script Writing Class: Flow & Tone

PICTURE – John Coltrane – Master of Flow & Tone

Okay all you marketers, creative directors, agency heads, CEOs that are secretly reading this blog trying to find out our secret sauce. Here’s some big info about video production scripting: flow & tone.

Everything starts with the script. Duh. I know. But it bears repeating – about 1,000,000 times.

Anyhow, what’s more important is: what are you looking for in that script? How can you tell if a script is good or bad?

I’ll tell you what I’m looking for: Flow & Tone.

Does the script move effortlessly from movement to movement? Hey, I’ve got an idea, we can just throw some powerpoint slides in at this point! Dumb ass idea! There goes the flow. You can’t flow from a beautiful shot into a powerpoint slide. I’ve got an idea – let’s just throw a couple more marketing words in there – we REALLY need to get those points in – it’s important to corporate. Dumb ass idea! They’ll stand out like a wart on a smooth baby’s bottom. Flow is the line that your are reeling your viewer in with. You yank on that baby too hard, and that fish is going to come right off. You’ve got to keep reeling them in slow and steady, and then just pull it at just the right moment to get them to feel like – “crap, I love this (insert product, idea, nation, intangible metaphysical ideal, etc. here) and I want more!” People, look for flow. Let yourself FEEL it.

Every piece needs its place, and it needs to stick with it. It’s like a good script follows rules. Sure you can be in the future where everyone has the ability to read each others minds, but that fact that people can only do it underwater is something you’ve got to stick with, you can’t go switching that halfway through. People will say – that’s not believable – and yet they would have completely bought the first part. The Tone is like the  rules of the piece. Is it sweet? Is it surprising? Is it dark, moody, mysterious? Once this has been figured out – stick with it!! If you want true elegance in a piece it is found in the tone. Everything comes together to find tone. A sweet piece might have longer cuts, might have slower music, might have slo-motion shots. Once you’ve decided that, you can’t go throwing in, well, a power point slide (can you see that I have some gripes here against those?) or a marketing point.

What cracks me up is how people fail to see the forest for the trees. They think that a video is actually all about the content. It is actually very little about the content, its about how the content is presented, and thus how the viewer perceives the content and what they empathize with and what they compare that content to in their own lives. Content is for websites, and blogs, and spreadsheets – those things can hold LOTS of info. Video, or as we like to call it, film, are all about feeling.  Flow and Tone are the magical duo that help you harness that feeling to create the end sensation you’re looking for.


Author: Max Kaiser

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