Quick turn around projects excite me for the same reason they can make me nervous - they have potential. I recently wrapped a project of this kind, so I thought I'd share my process for tackling it. The task was to produce 3 independent videos from 3 days of production within 12 days for web release.
First was the preproduction. The key to completing this multifaceted project was planning as thoroughly as possible while still allowing room for flexibility. Few feelings worse than planning a shoot out of options. I've rarely worked on a narrative film set, but in my experience with corporate videography there always needs to be some wiggle room for when interview times change, transit is delayed, you can't get into the building or more people are needed in the office to capture interesting Broll. In working through planing for this I rely heavily on video treatments, production time-lines, and shot-lists. All of the videos were combinations of interviews and broll, so I had consistency on my side when planning shots.
I do not find scripts very helpful for corporate work because it's difficult (and near-impossible) to predict what the subjects might say without it being an entirely scripted interview from the start. You never know what interesting tangents the interviewee may go on or topics will bring out the most passion in them. I imagine this is similar to documentary filmmaking - which is a style I try to mimic with my small footprint productions. I will at times create a mock script whereby I write up placeholder dialogue representing the gist of what someone might say and then couple it with some broll ideas, but even this tends to fall to the side when shooting actually beings - it's mostly a broll brainstorming activity. Of course I always have a general story arch in mind for how pieces will fit in before shooting actually beings, but the specific details of a story unfolds when the first interview begins.
I do create shot-lists however, and for this particular project I experimented with Shotlister, an app that's designed to make shooting schedules and shot-lists easier to manage, editable in real-time, and shareable with team members. I was able to write up all sorts of broll ideas and interview notes (like whether I'd be able to shoot multi-cam or not). Once shooting began it was easy to check off shots, interviews, and meetings during production days. My only complaint is I couldn't "lock" times. The app is designed so that when a shot is complete, the whole timeline either shifts up or down depending on if you're ahead of schedule or not. I'd prefer making the "behind/ahead" call on my own and leave the shot times locked.
Video treatments and production schedules are handy for the obvious reasons: they tell you what the project consists of and when it'll be shot.
Production & Metadata
When shooting wrapped each of the days I went straight to metadata tagging in Adobe Prelude. I find this a valuable workflow, especially as a "one-man-band" producer. It gives me a chance to cull while the footage is still fresh in my mind. It becomes easy to tag moments as favorites and skip on-camera mistakes or blundered responses. With metadata done and a nice drink in hand, the footage was prepared for cutting the next day.
With corporate stories there's a consistent story arch, though it may be subtle - the same is true for any story, corporate, narrative, or otherwise. I've rephrased it for corporate work - it's this:
Problem -> Potential Solution to the Problem -> Attempt the Solution -> Result
Now, books like the Hero's Journey by Jospeh Campbell articulate this in far more elegant forms for narrative filmmaking. However, I find the above chart an accurate take on the "corporate hero journeys".
In other words it plays out like this:
Company has a problem (i.e. bad sales).
Company comes up with a potential solution for that problem (new sales technique).
Company attempts the solution and hands huddles that appear on their way to achieving their goal (does the solution work?).
The company either success or fails in their attempt (the result).
Again, not the most elegant outline, but it's accurate. Either subtly or not, corporate videos always tell this story. They may put it in an all encompassing positive light, saying "our mission is to accomplish X" with no direct reference to a struggle, but that always assumes a problem in their market that created the need for their solution. This blue-print has been invaluable to me when logging shots and metadata since, I know the type of interview responses I'm searching for. The moments the interviewee says "at one time", "since we began transforming X", "we're now X", "in the future we plan for Z", or "our vision is Y".
Once cutting beings, my goal (though not always successful) is to work in-depth on 1 or 2 projects per day with the hope of submitted a draft or concept draft before the day is done. Corporate business is a fast moving world and submitting early allows for quicker feedback and direction tweaking, which in turns insures the video is on point, on brand, etc.. In addition, by focusing on fewer tasks per day, I can remain focused on those fewer tasks with a greater degree of concentration - not bogging my brain with the stress of tasks the number of hours in the day simply won't allow for.
Keeping myself balanced with one video at a time allowed for a fairly fast turn around and on-time delivery. Always allow more time for renders, errors, issues, client feedback, etc. Never assume it'll go through 100% clean. Part of the fun (and the frustration) is actually figuring out issues and solving them on your way to completing a project. That's how you learn. That's how you become better. That's what the textbooks don't teach.
All the best, Devon Young