Guest Post: Three Ways You Can Create Authentic Campaign Videos from home
July 29, 2021
Guest Contributor: Richard Roaf, VideoRev
Lockdowns around the world have put a halt to real life newsrooms, real life video production and real life activism. But instead of politicians being unaccountable and real voices being lost, campaigners have risen to the challenge.
Content creation has rapidly evolved, with new ways of creating video for mobilising and organising: all without leaving the house. And people without filmmaking experience have been able to create quick, simple videos that amplified the voices of those at the frontline of their campaigns and grabbed media attention.
These videos have a huge impact because they are timely and start with an authentic story - which is much more important than production value.
Last year, We Own It founder Cat Hobbs launched this one take selfie video challenging the UK Government’s commissioning of coronavirus contracts to private contractors. Despite being made in half a day it generated 450,000 views and 20,000 shares and built support for Public Ownership.
Whilst the world may be opening up, these video styles will be increasingly important for campaigners, because they can be produced quickly and cheaply, and foreground the stories and people at the heart of your work.
Here are the 3 ways you can start making them too.
1. Community Sourcing
The myth of crowdsourcing is that you put a call out and are inundated with hundreds of high quality videos. The reality is that creating a video is a high bar ask so community sourcing is a better term as it acknowledges that you need to build a connection.
For the Videos By the Many project for the 2017 General Election we helped crowdsource 276 videos to amplify the voices of ordinary voters supporting Labour. This led to powerful personal stories like Tanya’s. But to get these we had to launch a promo video which pushed people to an organising call with Ken Loach and provide lots of follow up resources.
We learnt that using direct, targeted requests was most reliable. You can use your networks to directly reach out to organisers, supporters and people affected by the issue you’re working on.
We worked with Green New Deal UK to create this video with nurses across the UK. To create it, we were introduced to the nurses and then we sent them a written brief and had a phone call.
Our briefs always include:
- What people should say (questions they should answer, or bullet points)
- How they should film it (location, vertical or horizontal)
- A reminder to LOOK AT THE CAMERA (most common mistake by far)
- And how they should send it to you (WhatsApp is easiest, WeTransfer is highest quality)
Finding people that are good on camera and can speak authentically is often the hardest part. Instead of reinventing the wheel every time, you can build up relationships with the same presenters and develop their skills and confidence - like the Grassroots Voice Project run by Momentum.
2. Remote filming
For remote filming you are present and use online video tools (like Zoom) to record what they say. This makes the outcome more reliable because you can give direction and ask them to re-record bits to get what you need. It also takes the burden off the person in the video as all they need to do is turn up to a call.
We worked with Dignity in Dying to help them make this video with Noel Conway. Noel suffered from a terminal illness and the remote interview allowed him to ask the audience to join a webinar and lobby their MPs to change the law on assisted dying. Sadly Noel passed away this year, but thanks to the remote filming approach his story was able to reach thousands of people and have a huge impact without leaving his home.
The easiest way to get started with remote filming is to use Zoom to capture short clips at the end of existing meetings, and Patrick Frank has written a guide on that here.
To do it properly though we suggest you schedule a call and you can use a tool like Riverside to record high-quality interviews. This bypasses poor internet quality by recording the video at the highest possible quality, regardless of the strength of your connection.
3. Film yourself
The simplest way to create videos from home is to film yourself presenting to the camera.
The easiest version of this is to record a video in one take on your mobile phone, as it doesn’t rely on any editing and means you can react to what’s in the news. The trick to making these short videos work is to speak authentically, keep it to under 1 minute and find a powerful hook (see the VideoRev Hookbook if you want guidance on this).
To improve the technical quality of your videos you can buy a microphone, lights and tripod (see our tutorial here). But as the We Own It video above proves, content is much more important than production value.
While the prospect of filming yourself may seem daunting, I’ve seen time and again that you don’t need to be a professional filmmaker or presenter to create great videos.
This year we worked with LGBTQ+ campaigners across Europe to film self shot presenter videos. Despite most of them having no filmmaking experience 15 of them were able to script and film powerful short videos on their phones, in just a few days. Check out this blog to learn more, including more guidance on filming yourself.
Now it’s time to get started
The path to creating great videos doesn’t require expensive kit - just a bit of trial and error.
We’ve seen that it works, but there are still so many voices yet to be amplified.
So if you’ve got a laptop or smartphone then you can be the filmmaker we’ve been waiting for. Just pick it up and get started.
About the author:
VideoRev founder Richard Roaf has been helping organisations turn their campaigns into engaging videos for more than a decade. Over this time he has developed a methodology to create viral videos which he’s used to generate over 1 million shares and 50 million views.
Since he founded VideoRev, he has trained over 1,000 campaigners and filmmakers from some of the world’s leading campaigning organisations including Greenpeace, Amnesty International, The Labour Party and 350.org.
He has helped run election influencing social media campaigns with Momentum and Labour during the 2017 and 2019 UK general election. This helped Momentum create videos that generated over 120 million views.
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