Making Videos Without Video Shoots


Filmmaking is the most collaborative art. It involves the expert coordination of dozens of people working together intensely in a confined space.

Not exactly what Dr. Fauci would recommend right now.

We’re facing a catch-22 in the video world: there’s never been more of a demand for our product, but our ability to supply it is gone for the foreseeable future.

How should we respond? Two immediate solutions:

  • Webcam content. Re-think your content as a livestream, or testimonial-style webcam video. At SRH, our producing partner Rob has us all set with the gizmos and gadgets needed. We’re all broadcasters now.

  • Animation & Motion Graphics. Consider converting your idea that required a large crew into one that can be executed with animation and motion graphics teams. It will likely cost the same or a little more, but you can execute your original script.

But soon, the internet will be flooded with these types of videos. How can your brand stand out? It’s possible to attain some of the eye-catching production value you get with traditional shoots, even if your talent has to be both cast and crew.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use smartphones and tripods. Very inexpensive, and much more flexible than the camera on your laptop.
  • Don’t wing the writing. Even if the content has a “DIY” feel to it, script it out. Break it into bite-sized chunks you can string together later.
  • Pick good shots. FaceTime with your talent a week ahead to “scout” their house, and choose rooms with a lot of space and sunlight. You want 10-20 feet of bright depth behind your subject, don’t place them against a wall.
  • Use multiple angles. Wide angles, closeups, the grammar of filmmaking. Here’s a primer. You don’t need to be Scorsese to use cinematic language, kids on TikTok do it every day.
  • Storyboard. After you do remote location scouting, send your talent a storyboard they can follow. Doesn’t have to be amazing, you CAN be the Scorsese of storyboarding.
  • Don’t neglect the edit. Editing is still the difference-maker, especially when your other production value is lacking. And it’s easy for an editor to socially distance.

When we do get the initial all-clear, be ready for sets to feel different in 2020. You’ll see clients & agencies approving shots via telelink, gloves & masks for everybody, and creative scheduling with a rotating cast & crew to keep headcount low.

None of the above beats the real deal of a crew full of talented artisans making movie magic. The entertainment and commercial production folks have been hit very hard, there’s no sugarcoating it.

But they are also the most creative and hard-working people you’ll ever meet, and I’m itching to get back on set to make magic with them.