The Process

STEP ONE: The Message

Every project begins with an idea put into words. That can be a script, a lesson plan, a theme, or a song. Fine tuning the message is the most important first step, though the exact wording can often change as the project progresses. The example project here is a kid’s book I wrote. The first step was writing a bunch of poems in the voice of a small bug with style, and putting them into a story full of fun characters.

Step two is developing the look. Pencil sketches are one method of figuring out the shape of things to come. Some projects need visual references, others just need a plan. For video projects this will be storyboards, which are essentially putting the script into comic book form. For this example project, I did many pages of sketches based on the poems I had selected for the book. Some of these are illustration ideas for poems which were eventually cut from the final book. A story is a living thing until it finally gets published, and at every step it can grow and change.

Step three is moving from planning to execution. For this project it meant choosing those sketches with a lot of life and personality and making detailed versions of them which I then ink. For any project it’s choosing which sketches are going to become final products and which are not. For video projects this means cutting out those pages of script which are either just not good enough, or which, while good, don’t make the whole script better. Ultimately, you can shoot every page you write, but that means in step four you have all the more to cut out. I personally prefer to do most of the difficult cutting before I take the time to shoot. It saves time and money.

Step four is the creation of the final product- ready for the audience. In this case, it’s scanning the inked drawings and doing a lot of clean up and coloring, adjusting, editing, and finally placing into the book- or for other projects, social media stream, album cover, or t-shirt.

Video production is similar, but where as step 3 is inking and 4 is editing in Photoshop, for video projects step 3 is shooting and step 4 is editing. At the end of the day, you have the final product which you want people to see.

Step 5: Putting it out there

Once the project is finished, it is sent out into the world. Maybe that means going to the publisher, or maybe that means being uploaded to YouTube or Facebook. But we tell stories for the audience, and at some point we need to offer it to them and see how they respond. You wrote this story for someone, and when it’s ready, you do your best to make sure they get to hear your story.

When it comes to social media, I’ve been part of marketing a film which had a short but very successful run in the United States, after which I took over marketing the DVD and streaming access on social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Thanks to the internet and video streaming serves, there are more ways than ever to bring your project to your intended audience, and through which to extend the freshness of your project.