How to Write a Script for a Video
The script is the first step towards making a high-quality video, regardless of its goal and duration. It’s a well-made script that determines whether or not the viewer will catch the author’s main idea. A good script is a document that will guide the director during production, so it’s every aspect should be covered in detail, especially:
- The actions of each character;
- The content of the episodes;
- Key requirements for phonogram, sound, and text captions.
How to write a script for a video: 4 basic stages
To figure out how to create a good script for a video, you need to clearly realize that the key idea of the future clip should always come first, with every line carefully considered. Absolutely every detail counts if you plan on making a catchy and effective ad: sound, light, locations, acting. But without a decent idea, the audience will hardly understand what you’re trying to tell.
Scriptwriting consists of several stages, during which you need to:
- Form the key idea. Before the first lines of the script are written, you should outline the point of your future clip in a couple of sentences. This ‘pre-script’ is called a logline, and it should be dramatic and intriguing.
- Think through the plot. Once you begin elaborating the plot, you need to clearly divide it into three parts: the setup, climax, and denouement. It’s the basics of filmmaking actively used both for making movies and creating commercial videos. The setup is a question or problem your potential client comes across. In the climax, you show the process of solving the problem or the answer to the question, and the denouement is when you demonstrate a product or describe a service that will surely help the customer deal with whatever issue they have. Typically, the plot is summarized on a few pages, acquiring a clear structure. What you get in the result is called a synopsis, and it’s usually written in the present tense.
- Break the plot down into episodes. The next step on the way to writing a script for a video is to break the synopsis down into separate episodes. This is called treatment and must contain a description of each individual episode of the plot, together with the main dialogues of the characters. At this stage, the script is often rewritten and improved several times until the narration, the dialogues, and actions of the characters are brought to logical perfection.
- Create a finished script. Having a finished text divided into episodes, you can now put together a final version of the script where each scene has a sequence number and its detailed description. For each episode, the location (studio, interior, exterior), time of day, description of the character's, actions and everything that happens in the scene, including the direct speech of the actors, are determined. If needed, feel free to leave marks and notes under the names of the characters involved in a specific scene. In addition, you should specify the exact timing (duration), the overall look and effects of the characters (animation, color, etc.), the soundtrack, the overlay text and its font for every scene as well.
If done correctly, a ready-made advertising video script should be:
- Selling. Regardless of the plot and idea, it’s crucial to show the benefits of the product and its manufacturer, as well as its advantages over similar products and its effectiveness in solving the consumer’s problems.
- Memorable. It’s important to form a positive association with the product and express it visually. Just watch some average ad: the product in it will most likely be shown in close-ups, in the middle or end of the video, followed by text or sound comments. This trick is called a packshot and helps to make the desired picture stay in the viewer's memory.
- Interesting. Naturally, the video should look fresh and catch the viewer’s eye with either the plot itself or the main character, special effects, or the original performance of the actors. At the same time, you should keep an eye on the balance between all three above-mentioned factors to make sure the plot doesn’t overshadow the advertised product since your main task is to encourage the audience to remember the product, not the ad.
Beginners that don’t know how to write a commercial script make the same mistake all the time: they create too detailed descriptions of scenes and shots. Keep in mind that the written text will be turned into a moving picture, so various comparisons, adjectives, and complex epithets are a waste of time because you won’t be able to shoot them anyway. The same applies to the descriptions of actions: it’s the director’s job to shoot them and think them through.
In order to write a working script and achieve the goal of the promotional video – to draw attention to the product – you’ll need to make a brief. A detailed brief should include:
- Campaign goals and objectives.
- Data on the target audience of the advertised product (age, wealth, level of education).
- Info about the manufacturer (brand) in summary.
- Campaign budget.
The final cost of the video can only be determined after writing its script when it’s clear where to shoot, how many actors to involve, what special effects to use, and so on.
Video script writing examples
As an example, let’s make up a simple script for a water filter ad with a frame-by-frame breakdown.
- The wife enters the apartment where sees her husband. He’s a bit excited. He meets her and shouts, “Genie!” This phrase sets the tone for the whole video. That’s where the wife realizes that her “genius” husband has one of those ideas again.
- The husband continues, “What if I tell you I’m the brightest man alive? We’re moving to Denmark!”
- The wife says, “Brian, what are you talking about? What’s in Denmark?”
- The wife goes to the kitchen; the husband follows her, saying, "Genie, they have the purest water in the world!"
- She gives her husband a glass of water from the tap and says, "I’ll show you what the purest water in the world is, Brian!"
- The husband drinks the water in one gulp with pleasure, and asks, "How’s your work today?"
- In the next shot, we see a water filter installed under the sink. Voice announcer says, "The first direct-flow, electronically controlled reverse osmosis system Aqua Expert cleans up to twenty gallons of water per day."
- The filter remains on the screen, but an abstract dark background appears behind it.
- The filter becomes translucent: we see what it looks like from the inside. A logo and captions appear. Then the slogan appears: “Aqua Expert Pro water filter – spring water in your home.”
- Genie and Brian (with an empty glass in his hands) are sitting on the sofa. Satisfied and refreshed, Brian says, "Alright, but what about the air"?
Video script template
The template you can use to write a script for a one-minute advertising video looks like this:
- The main character is bothered by a question or a problem that can only be solved with the help of the advertised product (the description of the problem should take up to 10 seconds). Pay maximum attention to this part because if the movie doesn’t catch the viewer from the very beginning, they won’t watch it to the end.
- Then comes the description of the product’s advantages with a quick demo of how it can be used to solve the problem the character needs to deal with.
- Next, you show that, with the help of your product, the problem described in the beginning is successfully and, more importantly, easily solved.
- A demo of the product itself and a call to action (to buy it). At this stage, the image of the product must already be fixed in the mind of the viewer.
How to write a good script with this template? You need to:
- Generate an idea and come up with a catchy and not trivial story based on it.
- Work out the concept of video in accordance with the tasks that the clip should solve, the characteristics of the advertised product, and its target consumers.
- Break the plot into shots, containing detailed comments. Back the storyboard up with pictures of examples.
- Test the finished script among several persons and edit it in accordance with new ideas and wishes.
For some people, scriptwriting may seem too complicated, and not everyone has the talent and imagination necessary to figure out how to write a video script. If you cherish your time and wish to see a professional team working on the script for your commercial video, contact Cinema-Friends Production.