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The Road to Our Kickstarter Video, Part 1

So, we finally finished our Kickstarter video. Every website purporting to offer advice about how to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign emphasized the importance of an effective video on your product page, and we took that advice to heart. The only problem was: we had no idea HOW to create a Kickstarter video.

Undeterred by my complete lack of understanding of what makes a good Kickstarter video, I took it upon myself to write a "script." I use the word script loosely here, as my first attempt was more a stream-of-consciousness blathering about the game than a coherent, constructed piece with a specific purpose. It was, to be blunt, monumentally awful. it was generally agreed, if not in so many words, that what I had written "massively sucked." Clearly, I needed to do more to understand how to proceed.

The first thing I had to do was to research exactly what makes a Kickstarter video successful. Luckily, there are a plethora of websites offering their insights about effective video creation, and for the most part, their advice was consistent. What's more, many of them offer examples of what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do in your video. While most of the videos that were held up as examples of "good" videos did more or less the same things, the "bad" videos were all different in the ways that they sucked: it seemed that every creator of such a video had discovered a uniquely terrible way to present their product in the worst possible light. The amount of cringe that I witnessed in the less successful videos will no doubt haunt me to the end of my days. Fortunately, the experience instilled in me a singular, burning desire: to avoid creating that reaction for our video.

So, what DOES make a good, effective video? Again, the websites were clear: WRITE A SCRIPT. In this case, a script means a complete accounting of every word that will be spoken by anyone appearing in the video, along with all text, music and setting instructions. The most common mistake that people make when shooting a video is to believe that they can just improvise it on the day of shooting. This is a terrible idea for many reasons, not the least of which is that when you improvise your video, your video looks like it was improvised (Spoiler Alert: this is a bad thing).

To illustrate why a script is so important, I can share my experience with our videographer (by the way, hiring a professional to handle the shooting of the video is also highly recommended). When I first approached our videographer, Polo, about shooting the video, I asked about time requirements and price. Although he was able to give me a good idea of the cost of the video, based on its length, he was much more vague about the time needed; the best he could do was "two or three days." So, we dutifully blocked out the required time and made travel arrangements for Woody to fly down to Mexico City for the shoot while I worked on the script.

When I sent the script to Polo for review, he immediately wrote back that the shoot itself should take no more than five hours. What? How was he able to suddenly calculate the time so accurately? It turns out that he had had prior experience shooting a non-scripted video before, and it was a nightmare: basically, he was expected to create the video for the clients, which is a long and arduous process entailing many hours of setting up shots in different locations, trying to get usable footage out of improvised speech from non-trained actors, and then many long hours of editing to create the final product. With a working script, he was able to plan out exactly how to film the video in the most time effective way, and had clear instructions for how it should be edited.

So, I had done the first thing correctly by actually having a script. But what should a script actually contain? In Part 2, I will share what I learned about the things that need to be included in an effective video.

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