Backward Scriptwriting is Still Scriptwriting

Here at DDA, I am part of a team of creative copywriters. We handle everything from search engine optimized website content to print brochures and sell sheets. But, since we also have an on-side video studio and a team of experienced video specialists, we also get the chance to do some scriptwriting. I’ve written scripts for online training videos, informational videos, and other video productions. We can also provide scripts for any type of new-age video technology, such as the latest in live webcasting services, Internet webcasting, and live streaming video.

But this week, I worked on a script for an online video that we will be producing. I actually went on site to a New York City hospital to help film the footage a few weeks ago, and now it’s time to write the script.

Backwards, you say? Yes, it is. But in this case, I think it really works out well.

You see, the client had specific ideas of what they wanted to say, including messages from the chairman and patient testimonials. Originally, we planned on pulling these elements together with a voiceover — for which I would write the script. But once we gathered the footage, and took a few days to look it over, we realized that we had more than enough great footage, and didn’t need to clutter it with a voiceover. That’s where the backward scriptwriting came into play.

I broke down the footage we had from doctors and patients, and actually ended up transcribing most of it into a rough document (it was the only way I could organize my thoughts). Then I went to work creating a script for the video. But instead of “traditional” scriptwriting, where I created words from scratch to be filmed later, I used the words we already had on film to create a cohesive, informative, and (hopefully) interesting outline for the video.

In between (and even during) the statements and testimonials, I added notes about what “B-roll” footage would be good to splice in (since I’ve seen enough Hollywood movies, and was on-site with one of our video experts, I’m allowed to use cool video terms like “B-roll”). But those are merely suggestions for our video editors, and I’ll leave the final cuts and decisions up to them.

In the end, it was a very unique and different kind of challenge, and was a lot of fun to do. I think it will end up providing a great result for our client. It also proves (again) just how the many innovative minds here at DDA can work together to solve any problem. Of course, we like to have a plan when we begin any project, but we are happy to adjust on the fly and shift gears if we think it will result in a better finished product. And in this case, that meant turning the usual scriptwriting process around, and starting from the end.