Asking your viewers for money

I was approached a few months ago by the AOTF, or American Occupational Therapy Foundation. They would be in Nashville for a huge industry-wide convention and wanted to take the opportunity to create a “donor video” by shooting interviews with past recipients of their grants.

So far so good. But I prefer to shoot testimonial videos with people in the middle of their lives. It makes for more interest and veracity. These folks would be sitting and talking to me off camera. How to make it as interesting as possible?

We had, ultimately, four stories to tell — one from each person. But one overarching story had to run through them all — the value of the AOTF funding to their research in occupational therapy. So the structure would be one story told by the four of them as we intercut between their personal stories.

We had about an hour with each of eight subjects over two days. Fortunately, most were staying at the Omni Hotel, and the staff there knows me (by now) and was very helpful (anyway). I found great locations to set up and shoot all around the hotel, including their gorgeous breakfast cafe (thank you, Lauren!). And for even more variety, we went to the Sole Mio Restaurant near the hotel for one of the interviews. Most with bright or windowed backgrounds that would complement the upbeat narrative. So, yes they all sat in a chair. But each was in a new location so as we cut between them, there was something new for the audience.

These kinds of shoots are all in the planning. First, participant demographics are decided, based on the target audience. We develop questions that will guide the interviews. Then, the client reaches out to appropriate membership, patients, customers, etc., with an email explaining what we are doing and asking for anyone who’d like to be part of it on camera to respond. When we have 12 to 15 responses, I call the finalists to assess personality. This is basically a casting call to judge how they might be on camera. From there the actual participants are chosen and schedules are locked for the crew and and this case, eight interviewees.

Then we can shoot.

We shot the footage in two days with two cameras running: the main angle and a side angle for cutaways. That second camera allows me lots of freedom in the edit to cut within sentences without jumpcuts. Maren Voss from the AOTF was a huge help in coordinating it all, and Anthony Guerrero was my camera op for the shoot. Many thanks to you both!

The final cut is below. Please LMK how you like it!

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