In my "spare" time, I have been editing some promo videos for a non-profit. In some ways, creating a promo is just like telling any story--it just has to be told in a matter of minutes, rather than in a half-hour or hour (or twenty-something or forty-something minutes, which is really what half-hour or hour shows turn out to be). So I have been chipping away at hours of fantastic footage (kudos to a great shooter) to try to make the best 1-3 minutes I can. And along the way, I have made a few discoveries about short form. And long form. And life...
1. In a promo video, there's not much time to "live" in an emotional
moment. That doesn't mean there should be no emotional moments to live
in. It just means that they should be chosen very carefully. And that
"living" has to happen quickly. Kind of like in life.
2. In a promo video, the beauty of a shot matters (believe me, I am
grateful for every one that makes me gasp), but not as much as the
telling of the story. Which is not so different for any length story.
Longer stories just have a little more time for the beautiful stuff. So you take the beauty you have time for. Kind of like in life.
3. Sometimes, you just have to cut things you love. Which happens
whether you have three minutes or thirty. Any number of lovely,
emotional scenes were cut from One Life to Live when they weren't
necessary to advance the story. Every so often, they were included in a
podcast. Most of the time, they were just cut, and we moved on. Kind of
like in life.
4. If you do the work, what you are left with is the best of the
best--the things you really, really loved, complete with moments you can
savor, and a piece that speaks both to people's hearts and to their
And isn't that what telling a story is all about, whether it's a film, or an episode, a book or a promo, or, well, life?