Don’t Get “Lucky” on Your Next Video

I’m probably the least experienced member of the Media team. I graduated from The University of Kentucky with a degree in Social Work (proof that it doesn’t matter what your plan is…God’s plan prevails!) and learned production by getting thrown in the bull pen with zero context! I had some incredibly talented creatives take me under their wing and patiently show me the secrets of the trade.

Over the years, I’ve done my fair share of stories/interviews…but honestly, I rarely walk away completely satisfied with the finished product. And if I feel good about it, I usually chalk it up to luck.

I’ve noticed that taking an individual’s personal experience and squeezing it into 2-3 minutes (or less) while also making it relatable and engaging can be very difficult.  When I would sit someone down in front of a camera, I was at the mercy of their experience. I had zero control of how dynamic they were or how they presented their story. But then I was faced with taking the raw footage and editing it in a way that moved the audience. Wow. No pressure, right?

So when I was assigned a video for our volunteer recruitment Sunday, I was determined that this time would be different. It was going to be good because we PLANNED it to be good. We were going to capture something specific instead of making something from whatever we were given. (You’re probably thinking “duh”…but remember, I’m still learning.)

As a media team, our research began with scouring the interwebs for compelling stories, impressive set designs, lighting examples and camera work. As geeky production people, we wanted to create a visually captivating piece— and we wanted it to be fresh for our audience. Our inspiration ended up coming from American Idol, NFL Films and even a few small production companies! Personally, I was engrossed with the production of one particular story and allowed it to shape the development of this project.

Images that spring boarded our storyboard & production design:

As you’ve probably experienced, there never seems to be enough time to properly prepare for a project. Church production teams keep their thumb on the pulse of the church and often only have a few days to deliver a video. Don’t let this affect the quality of your product. Sit down and make your game plan before you pull out your gear. We took copious notes at our pre-interview and sketched out the entire story before production prep. Our detailed shot list kept us accountable to the original vision and our storyboard and notes kept us focused on the edit as we interviewed.

When it was all said and done, our preparation was so detailed that post production was a breeze! While logging the raw footage, I knew which soundbites I was looking for and was able to provide an EDL (edit decision list) to our editor. That enabled him to focus on the technical and creative side, without worrying about the content.

Overall, our team considers this project to be a major win. In reviewing our process, these were the key steps that I feel like contributed to its success:

  • Plan, plan, plan. And then plan some more. Time on the front end saves time and stress on the backend.
  • Don’t assume that because you have the vision in your head that everyone else has caught it. Set your post production team up for success by painting a picture for them. And if you’re a one-man-show or don’t have a post production team, make sure you know the vision before sitting down to edit. Don’t try and figure it out as you go.
  • Build your storyboard using video links, pictures, screen grabs and music.
  • Don’t be afraid to let your interview subject in on the plan. You might be surprised at how much they are able to add when they’re “in the know”.
  • Review the production process and fine tune how you’ll do the next one. (hence this article)

Don’t get lucky on your next video. Get what you want as opposed to settling for what you got.



  1. Love this story and your post, Emily! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Emily, You ARE very talented. God knew what He was doing when he put you in that first production role at FBA. You have blossomed and become a true professional. So proud of you! When you rely on God to lead, you always move in the right places.


  3. Patrick Clough says:

    Well done Emily. Great Video. Great article.
    So happy for you and your new team.

  4. As an upcoming church videographer, I am using your video as a guideline for an upcoming video we are making. How much of the dialog do you script if any? Did you guys just outline it or did you have word for word written out?

  5. Jared Lowe says:

    Hi Emily!

    I am currently working on building a video team at our church. We do a lot of “stories” similar to this one that you have posted here. I sometimes find it a little more difficult to plan this type of project due to the fact that I am at the mercy of each person’s individual story. Do you have any tips for planning something like this? I notice that you mentioned a pre-interview to help the planning process. What kind of things do you try to communicate to the interview subject, and what are you trying to pull out of them during this time? Any information that you can pass along would be greatly appreciated!


  6. emilybe says:

    Hi Taylor! This particular video was completely unscripted. We had a pre-interview with him and made notes over some of the more significant points that he made in our meeting. From those notes, we were able to outline our video and somewhat plan it. This helped us tremendously during the on-camera interview. If he accidentally left something out, we could remind him and make sure he covered everything we needed. I hope that helps. Please share your video with us when it’s finished, we’d love to see it!

  7. emilybe says:

    Hi Jared! I definitely agree with your comment about being at the mercy of each person’s individual story. With this project, we started by asking ourselves a few questions. What did we want the audience to feel while viewing it? And what would our “call to action” be at the end? The answers to these questions helped us frame the video and then determine what kind of story we needed to find. We actually had several different story options before we decided on Tom. We felt like his story was compelling and he would be a clear communicator on camera.

    The pre-interview allowed us to take his words and put together a rough edit on paper. (It also created a sense of comfort and rapport between us. That way the on camera interview would feel natural.) Our team outlined his story–which later set us up for the questions I would ask. If we needed him to say something specific, we would figure out what question we needed to ask to get that answer. There’s always the chance that they don’t give you what you need– and then sometimes you can just tell them…I need you to say something like “this”. While interviewing, I am editing in my head while they’re talking. If I don’t feel like I have a clean “in or out” of what they just said, I’ll ask them to rephrase it. Always shoot for the edit!

    Every person you interview will be different. Tom actually wanted to know our goal and what the video was going to be like in the end. It helped him answer our questions. But sometimes that can really get into someone’s head and confuse them. You just have to use your best judgement on how much information that you share with the people you’re interviewing. They might do better just telling their story and not knowing your plans!

    Hope that helps!

  8. johel gonzalez says:

    which program Andy use for his preaching?

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