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Shotlists and Video Treatments

It seems that when people ask what I do for a living, I tend to say that I am a film maker and not a videographer. Where they will ask if they’ve seen anything I’ve done and I awkwardly say no most likely because what I tend to shoot is gym videos or music videos but I say I am a film maker because these are films. They are very short format films. But I am not a videographer. It may be splitting hairs, and I may be wrong in my thinking but videographers are known to be those that shoot events and recap videos; like weddings and conventions, which I do from time to time but I do not advertise those things as they are not pertinent to what I market towards. The difference between being a film maker and a videographer is that there is preproduction in film making. Yes there are things that a client can say they want prior to the commencement of an event but widely known, it is basically capturing an event or time with the intent of showing what happened at that event, there is little planning as to what happens that you can control.

Being a film maker, I think the biggest thing that sets the final piece looking complete is the amount of preproduction done. Before, I would schedule a shoot and just show up with no prior knowledge as to what the client wanted in terms of looks, or color, or anything like that. I would find a location and we would just run and gun which I still do but now I do it differently. Now I take all the information I can get possible from the client so I know exactly what their idea is with their video. I want to know what they want in the video for sure, and things that they would like in the video as well. I want to know these things because the last thing I want is to guess how the final video will look like. Before I start shooting, I want to have in my head how the video is going to look like already. Though, it most likely won’t ever look exactly as I imagine, having all the information beforehand gives me the best chance at making it look complete. I use Shotlists and Video Treatments to help me with these. Most people who are in my position that run and gun and don’t have a big team of people on a shoot usually don’t do too much preproduction. The saying is, “If its easy to do, then its easy not to do.” I believe that putting as much work before the shoots makes a huge difference in how good it will be afterwards.
Video Treatments can be made and can look any which way. There really is no wrong way to do one. The job of them is to get the idea as to what look someone would want. Meaning, what scenery, what colors, what clothing, basically everything you would want, on a paper to reference to and build a shotlist for. I am going to link a sample of my video treatment and shotlist to show what they could look like. My process is to find videos that are similar to what the client is looking for, which, can depend very much what it is. For a music video, I ask what their vision is for the video. If we already have a location then I can look for music videos with similar locations and start building from there. More than likely, the client may have a basic idea of what they would want in the video and its just a visual board that they can see what they like and what they don’t like. The process of building the video treatment for me, is really just taking a screenshot of a frame from a music video and adding that into a pdf describing what part of the shot I think fits. Usually the whole scene isn’t exactly what I would want but it could be something like a cool lens flare, or the color of a fill light or the camera movement specifically.

From there, a shot list can be made. Shotlists can be amazing because you may go in on your shoot and think you got all the shots you need, but taking a quick look at your shot list, you’re able to make sure and see what you could’ve missed that would’ve been integral to your shoot. Shotlists should be made very ahead of time where you have had time to look over it multiple times as well as with the videos you found to put in your video treatment to see what shots you can incorporate that other shoots may have done or may have missed. As I said before, below are samples of a shoot I did last month and you can see the ideas of what I look for and my process in preproduction.