A Step-by-Step Guide to Producing a Charity Video
Updated: Mar 3
Your charity has a particular challenge and you think that video might just be the solution. But what happens next? Here we'll guide you through the different steps for creating a video that makes your organisation's mission unmissable, using a recent example from a successful project with our client Quaker Social Action (QSA).
Approaching a production company or creative agency about producing a video means you'll need to provide a brief. A brief isn't just an administrative document - it's a great way to formalise your ideas and cross-check that you've thought about all aspects that need prior thought and internal discussion. A great agency can help you land on the best creative solution, but it helps to have a thorough understanding of the problem you're hoping to address, including the target demographic and any KPIs.
Here you can download our brief template.
It's useful to also have a briefing call with the agencies you are considering, where you can get to have an informal chat to scope out some early ideas and see if you gel with the team. On a briefing call with us, we might ask some things you won't have thought of!
For our client, Quaker Social Action, the organisation was looking for a video which showcased members of their community, including Trustees, to tell the story of QSA's values. On a briefing call with the project lead, it became clear that our own social justice values were very well aligned and we were commissioned.
2. Beat Sheet
Once you've decided to commission an agency, you'll have a kick-off call where you and the agency will brainstorm aspects like creative direction, format and logistics.
It's at this stage we like to provide our clients with a beat sheet to fill in. A beat sheet is traditionally used to structure the 'plot' of a video. Our version of the document also operates as a central hub containing details of the contributors and locations. A beat sheet begins to structure a narrative, discern key messaging and attach story points to each contributor. We usually provide a beat sheet as a live and editable document that remains up-to-date.
Here you can download our beat sheet template.
For QSA, it was important that a large number of authentic voices were front and centre, lending itself to a talking-head film. We suggested capturing some incidental b-roll, too, to help colour some of the description of QSA's community projects as well as help give some texture and energy to what would be a relatively long film.
The beat sheet helped QSA decide which contributors to include in the film, and which points each contributor would be best suited to covering; it also helped QSA decide on 2 key shoot dates/locations and the community projects attached to those dates/locations.
Now for the fun part - we get out on-set and start filming!
This can either be a 'bespoke' filming day, where we go onto location (such a contributor's home, a studio, your offices or any other location) or we can seek to obtain talking-head interviews and footage while at one of your organisation's events.
On-site will be our videographer, sometimes along with our producer-director or production assistant. Personnel depends on the creative requirements of the shoot, as well as budget. However, we always encourage the client to accompany us on-set - if anything, it's a really fun and interesting day out doing something different and get face-time with your communities!
For all shoots we produce a call sheet beforehand, which details the schedule for the day. Here you can view a GDPR-compliant call sheet example.
For QSA we offered 2 filming days: 1 shoot day at the Trustee event, and another shoot day in London with the morning spent at the 'Turn a Corner' mobile library volunteer project and the afternoon at their 'Cook Up' volunteer project. At the Trustee event we had our videographer and production assistant on site, and on the London shoot day we had our videographer working closely alongside the client/project lead. You can see some pics below!
For QSA a few of the contributors were unable to come to London, so we recorded their talking-heads on Zoom instead - something we've been doing a lot since the pandemic. The client sent the contributors a link to the Faltrego Calendly where they booked in a half-hour recording slot. We also sent the contributors some helpful Zoom Recording Guidelines.
4. Paper Edit
Once we've finished filming and recording, we will make our way through the interview footage. This tends to mean transcribing the interviews and then structuring the transcribed soundbites into a Paper Edit. This process is sometimes called an 'Edit Script' or 'Visual Script'.
Here you can download our Paper Edit template.
We can then deliver you the visual script for review, so you can cross-check the key messaging and ensure that the narrative structure that makes sense. If there are any soundbites that don't quite work for you, you can hop into the original transcripts and see if there's a quote or soundbite that you think could work better.
Check out this Paper Edit example that will pulled together for QSA.
Once approved, we begin the edit within the software.
We edit the film as per the paper edit / visual script. Sometimes soundbites on paper don't end up translating well when edited together, in which case we'll use our editorial judgement to make some small tweaks as we put together the video.
We will also add background music and our designer will mock-up any graphical additions, such as lower thirds / name captions and end slates.
What result is a 'First Version' or 'V1', which we then send to you for review.
6. Amendments and versioning
We offer 2 of amendments after the delivery of V1. Here you can request any tweaks to soundbites, structure, graphics, music or anything else! Seeing the proper video edit (instead of paper edit) you may get the feel that certain soundbites don't quite work, the flow isn't quire right or there's an issue with pacing - all of which can be remedied!
We can go back and use the Paper Edit to instruct on any changes.
It's at this point we can also add on any accessibility elements such as subtitle or audio description.
Once the video is signed-off, we can then proceed onto any versioning. For example, creating an additional shorter 1-minute cut for social media.
Quaker Social Action felt that one contributor's story was so strong that it would be great to make a standalone additional video. The client used the transcript to help produce a new Paper Edit for Sammy's Story and, after a few tweaks, we ended up with an additional wonderful standalone video.
Ta-Da! Watch the Final Films here
If you're interested in using video to make your organisation's mission unmissable, get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org