Archive for : August, 2014

Dream of a Lifetime

Honor Flight HoustonI was given the privilege of producing the Honor Flight Houston documentary.

What a fantastic experience I shared with two groups of true American heroes, with a total of about 50 veterans. These folks were members of what is known as the greatest generation: our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents who survived the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, fought victoriously in World War II, and then built the world’s strongest economy.

After reviewing all of my materials, I began the process of finishing the script for the documentary. A vast majority of scripts produced for television or film will follow a basic story structure. These are most often divided into three acts. You set up the story and there is a catalyst that gets it going. That’s the first act. Then, your story is told with all of the twists and turns. That is the second act. Finally in the third act you wrap up the story with a powerful, emotional, dramatic or funny ending.

 

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The 53-minute Honor Flight Houston Documentary provides a journey through the entire Honor Flight experience, told through eyes of the veterans. It will prove to be a lasting memento for those who participated in the program to share with family and friends. But, it will also give audiences and viewers a deep and lasting impression of how Honor Flight is truly the trip of a lifetime.

Getting the Right Shooter

I remember my Dad asking me back in the mid-seventies, “Video, what’s that?” I had just decided my college major was going to be TV/Film Production. People ask me: “How do you do what you do?” My reply is often: “It’s something any five-year-old can do with about 25 years worth of practice.”

 

As a professional videogMexAmUnityrapher practically since the invention of portable video recording, I accompanied Honor Flight Houston on two trips to Washington D.C. with group of about 20-30 World War II veterans. I’d done it all before with Honor Flight Austin a year earlier, so I was well rehearsed.

 

On one of the trips, we had a 107-year-old vet go with us, the oldest surviving vet in the entire country. When I first met him, someone told me how old he was. I said to him, “When I first laid eyes on you, you know my first thought?” He said, “And what was that?” I replied, “I thought to myself, that guy can’t be a day over a 106!”

 

This stage of the production is critical. This is where you are collecting elements for your videos that should compel and inspire the viewer. Not only are you shooting moving visual sequences, but you’re also recording audio that must be audible and complete. Getting great quality sound is often the biggest and most problematic challenge.

 

It makes a huge difference who is capturing the images and sound.

 

Upon my return from taking two trips with Honor Flight Houston, I edited a 30-second PSA (Public Service Announcement) I then went to work on the Honor Flight Houston Overview. That was intended to become an eight-minute program, providing a brief but complete overview of the Honor Flight mission. This included highlights of the trip and brief sound bites from the interviews that were recorded after the vets had returned home.

 

With short attention spans these days, it’s important to hone your message concisely. This video was designed for the web site’s home page, and also as a short program that could be utilized during live group presentations and fundraising events.

 


 

Here is the eight-minute Honor Flight Houston Overview that we produced:


 

Do They Hear Us Now?

“We need to tell our story. People need to understand who we are and what we do.” Who hasn’t heard or thought of that? But how? How do you tell your story? It proves to be a difficult challenge considering the crowded airwaves: content streams through our cell phones, our tablets, our computers and our home entertainment systems. With so many people competing for so many eyeballs, how do you reach out and be heard successfully by the audience that you want?

This was the challenge presented to me recently by Honor Flight Houston. As a video producer, they wanted me to package their message to inform the public about their non-profit’s mission. Honor Flight sends World War II veterans on a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the memorial built in their honor.

As I have worked with non-profits over the years, my mission was to both increase awareness and raise money. We needed to gain people’s attention, raise their interest, convert that interest into desire, and then call them to action.

 

Our “Go” Board
Honor Flight Houston
30 Second PSA (Public Service Announcement)
8 Minute Blast (Overview)
50 Minute Documentary

 

Hearing about Honor Flight’s specific needs, I envisioned three videos: a 30 second PSA (Public Service Announcement), an 8-minute overview, and a 50-minute documentary. To begin we needed to prepare a script, and then acquire high-quality images and sound. This included conducting interviews and capturing live action video footage. We also evaluated the use of graphics, public domain archival film footage and still photographs. We acquired rights to inspiring music and contracted with professional talent to provide the narration. Once all of the elements were “in the can”, so to speak, we could finalize the script, record the narrator, create the computer graphics and finally edit the finished content.

 

To Do List
Write Scripts
Capture Public Domain Archival Film Footage and Photographs
Shoot Complete Honor Flight Trip
Conduct Selected Interviews Among Honor Flight Veterans
Shoot Vets’ Personal World War II Memorabilia
Revise Scripts
Record Narration
Create Graphics
Edit
Transcode to Various Formats

 


 

Our 30 second PSA for Honor Flight Houston: