Now for the clever bit… the storytellers’ art

I have a friend who is in movies, at least that’s how I like to introduce her hoping it boosts my street cred. The reality is not as glamorous as that first might sound as she doesn’t get to hobnob with the stars or go to many opening-night parties. This Cinderella spends a lot of time with the technology – which probably says something about why we are friends.

She told me a story about a recent meeting where they were reviewing the footage from a shoot – hours of it. Days of filming and retakes, several camera angles, different lighting positions…they would probably need to send out for pizza to help them through. At first, ‘He who needed to be impressed’ was enthusiastic: lovely; great shot; ooh I like that. After some time he fell silent and at the end said: “What are we going to do with all of this?”

The answer was a 26-minute documentary.

Just 26 minutes from terabytes of data. It could make gathering all those terabytes seem a huge waste of time and effort. But without the days of filming and the different angles the storytellers’ art couldn’t be perfected and the message would be dull and ineffective. The perfecting comes in the cutting…and that takes time and skill. Sound familiar?

There comes a time (or several times) in every working day when there is a paring down, pruning to be done and much of the earlier efforts are consigned to the cutting room floor – or the recycling bin for us copywriters.

One day I may be famous enough to remake my epic with the director’s cut but until then I make decisions about what goes and what stays on behalf of my customers, because they know what their paying public want to see: compelling stories, uncluttered by extraneous information, that deliver a persuasive message. That’s the art and science of what we do.

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