Still from Sweet Mamma

A Tale of Two Videos

Posted January 25, 2016
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Merle Braley is a new member of, a new member of our community.

Last week, he sent me a cut of a video he had shot entitled ‘Sweet Mama’. He shot it at the Piedmont Farm and Animal Shelter.  It was a lovely story of a goat who had been saved from slaughter and had gone on to have her own goat ‘family’.  That is what the shelter does.  The shelter is run by founder Lenore Braford.

Well, you have all the elements here of a great, heart-tugging tale:  A mama goat that survives slaughter by running away, two adorable baby goats and a woman who has dedicated her life to saving abandoned animals.

Merle shot the piece beautifully.  His problem came with the assembly – the ‘storytelling’ part.  What Merle did, (as you can see [embed for VJ World, link for newsletter]) is what many ‘filmmakers’ do – he lets the subject (in this case Lenore) do all the talking.

Essentially, this is one long interview with Lenore, with the pictures laid over it.  It does not work.  It does not work because Lenore is not a ‘storyteller’.  That is not her job. As the VJ, that is your job. Your job is to tell the story, in as clear and direct and succinct a manner as possible to the viewer.

I sent Merle my notes (and with his permission, posted my critique on VJWorld.)  Here is Merle’s recut:

Sweet Mama - the Goat at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge from Merle Braley on Vimeo.

As you can see, this is a much easier piece to watch, to understand and to get into.  

It makes a big difference.  

You are the storyteller.  Make it easy and entertaining for your audience to follow the story. Explain it to them.  

Merle had all the elements to make this work. It was simply a matter of ‘reorganizing them’ and having him take control.

Look at the two pieces and tell me, which one works better for you?


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