In a previous article about New Media, we discussed the different ways of getting your material out to the millions of viewers around the world so that you can get feedback on your script. By taking the suggestions of some of your audience, you can tweak your story so that the next screenplay contest is won by you and your well developed screenplay.
In this article, you are going to get a brief thumbnail of what you need to look out for, and what you can get away with when you create something for the internet. Let’s start out with the fun stuff, what you absolutely have to have in order to attract your audience.
The most important item; you must have at least one GREAT character. Not good, not marginal. Great. We’re talking about a person so well developed that the people watching your piece will feel that they’ve lost their best friend once the segment is over. This was part of the huge success with one of the early internet successes; LonelyGirl15. Even when people realized it was staged, they tuned in even more so.
Make them real, three dimensional characters. Have them pop off the screen the way they pop off the page of your script. This means great dialogue filled with subtext and alluding to relevant events that you don’t have to resolve in that episode. It’s kind of like the TV show, The X-Files, Lost and Fringe. For every one question they answered, they posed two more.
The second most important aspect is to have good lighting. If someone is silhouetted or otherwise unclear on the computer screen – where your audience will be watching your content – people will tune out. There’s a wide variety of lighting books out there, and you can even rent a great lighting kit for little money. Lighting one or two people isn’t as hard as it sounds, and it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s amazing how a change in a shadow on a person’s face can alter the entire mood of the story.
Lastly, you must have quality audio. If the levels are too high or too low, it will distract from your message. Take the time to ensure that you have a high quality microphone and that your levels are evenly matched when you go to post your video on the internet.
These are all fun things that you can play around and experiment with on your next project. Next up, what you absolutely DO NOT have to stress about.
First, don’t worry about location. You can film a scene in a single room with nothing but a table and a chair if the story is interesting enough. Too many people get caught up in fancy set dressings or multiple locations. While this can add to the scene, focusing on getting the important elements perfect before you try to shoot in multiple areas.
Second, keep the camera steady. There’s too much camera movement today, based around high-octane movies such as the Bourne series. This technique doesn’t work well on a computer screen, it creates nausea and detracts from the message you are trying to get across. This isn’t to say a little motion is bad, but keep in mind that you want to draw your audience in, not push them away.
Lastly, go easy on the music. While it may be tempting to use the latest pop-song, your scene could come across as a music video. If there are some theatrical scores you want to use in the background, use them sparingly. Again, it’s all about enhancing the scene, not getting too flashy.
Creating content for the internet is incredibly fun and rewarding. Done right, the cash outlay is minimal. By moving forward and creating your own content, you will open your mind to new ways of writing scenes. It amazing how a great actor can say what took you eight sentences to get across; in only two. It offers those wonderful “A-Ha!” moments where your writing is able to make the leap to the next level.
And isn’t that they edge you’re going to need before you enter that next script contest?
In a previous column, I wrote about Criticism and talked about how to turn it into an effective tool that will allow you to be a better writer. Since I’ve received quite a few questions about that article, I thought it would be good to have a follow up. Read Between the Lines, what people are saying about your work may not be what they are thinking. Confusing and contradictory? You’re catching on quick!