Producing investor films
Last week Espen from Fygi Technologies and I made a video as a presentation for private investors/crowdfunding campaign for the Fygi Retail solution. We learned a lot and would like to share key points from the production process. So let's dive into how's and why's of investor films.
Research the 5W's
An excellent place to start is to research the 5W's of the business for whom you are producing the film. To market effectively, you have to know who you are selling to, what problem the company or product solve. Where will you find the customers and investors? Why would they choose the company or service? Is your timing right for the market? How are you going to get your message to your target market? What type of media will you utilize?
Wait a second. We already said we use video as a media? I do not think video alone is enough to get to your investors. Text or graphics to accompany your film spread across both social and traditional media are just as important.
Researching 5W's should help you find a starting point for scriptwriting. The investigation should let you identify why the team is passionate about solving a specific problem, why is it worth solving, and which community the issue affects. You should be able to write answers to these questions in a couple of simple sentences.
Script for the investor video should include at least the following elements: core story, problem and solution, status and call to action. Depending on the length of your video, you can also include a description of the underlying technology, define how you will sell the product, milestones and timeline summary. You can incorporate all or some of those elements before the call to action.
You can also make a storyboard. Remember to include core story, some highlights (2-3 selling points) and address possible hesitation points (2-3 sections that your investors can worry about). It is always good to consult your script with someone who doesn't know anything about the company. Check if they understand the message, the product and solution and ask what they see as hesitation points. When you work on investor video, it is easy to forget that what is evident for you, may not be so easily understandable for others.
When you are writing your script, you need to consider video length. Many crowdfunding or investors websites have specific time slots for films. We produced 2 minutes movie with 333 words long script. Sixty seconds videos include approximately 150 words, and respectively: 90 seconds - 255 words, 2 minutes - 300 to 350 words, 3 minutes - 450 to 510 words. Word count will be affected by language and structure too. If you use a lot of long words or compound sentences, the time needed may become longer.
Your script and the movie of your speaker (usually someone from the company) will be your underlying video story. Often, to make the video more visually appealing, you need to add some extra shots. For example, illustrating the problem and solution, the technology or how your product affects the audience can be good starting points. Additional footage doesn't even have to be video; it can as well be graphics or illustrations. Main shots of the speaker and additional pictures together will give you an idea of how you can divide the film into blocks.
What I find helpful is to write and draw all blocks onto A4 pages. With two minutes of the film, you should end up with a maximum of five pages with text and four pages of additional illustrations. If a text block doesn't fit on an A4 sheet, written with letters big enough to be read from a distance, then you need to work on rewriting the text. I also recommend checking the readability performance of your writing. Grammarly is a useful tool for that in English (for Norwegian check LIKS). At the end of the scriptwriting process, you should be able to fill a maximum of 9 blocks for 2 minutes video with text and visual content, that are easily understandable. The content should also include the who's and the why's and call to action.
When the script is ready and easily readable from the A4 sheets, you need to make sure to include other essential visual elements in your filmmaking process. The backdrop to your film should be relevant to the product you are presenting. If that appears to difficult to pull off, then a simple one toned background in company's brand colours will do just fine. Make sure the speaker also is dressed accordingly. There is no point in dressing in a suit if you are presenting bikes. The message of the film needs to be supported by every one of the elements included. Edit, edit, edit!
When all the small elements are planned out, you can start recording. I am not going to go into technical details in this article, as you can find tones of info online. However, some moments can make or break your video production, and I will try to point some of them below.
Be a producer, not only a videographer
When you start recording a speaker, you will soon find out that most people without media training have difficulty sticking to the script. You can then either use text monitor or hold your A4 sheets with text above your lens. What is essential is to edit the speaker. Point out whether she or he should speak faster, slower, clearer or not include any other words that do not fit the purpose of the video. Sometimes the speaker will drop the script and use their own words, and one out of 50 takes will be a happy accident that will be better than the script. Most of the times, it is just best to stick to the plan.
Since you planned the screenplay, you know what blocks you need to record. A good rule is to record 4 seconds before and after the speech to have enough material for the editing. So ask your speaker to wait with the talking. If they start talking at the same time you press the record button, you risk that the final material will be choppy. Record as many takes as necessary.
It is useful to record the first block once more at the end of the session. People tend to warm up in front of the camera afterwards. Make sure both first and last block are most energetic and authentic, as these are your most essential elements. If things start to slow down, take a launch break. When you think you have all the blocks recorded, don't finish the shoot. Go over the material and double-check if you have all the clips you need. Make sure the sound was recorded adequately on all clips and that everything looks sharp and properly exposed. Record more if you need to. It is better to have a way too many takes than too few. Time is money, but usually, what you save on video-production, you may lose later because your potential investor went somewhere else.
For our two minutes video, we recorded 74 takes; we will edit approximately ten clips into five blocks of speech. We shot everything on a DSLR with a 70mm lens attached and a lavalier microphone. Nowadays you can make decent videos with a mobile phone camera attached to a tripod and a microphone. The film editing is a topic for another article. If you are intimidated by the professional editing programs like Final Cut or Premiere Pro, I recommend you to try Adobe Rush. You will be surprised how easy video editing can be.
I hope this article helps you on your journey of investor filmmaking. Let me know in the comments if you have your tricks or want to know more.