Capturing powerful testimonies for your church is a process and it begins long before the actual shooting of the footage. At Venture Christian Church we follow a simple process which I’ll share below. Plan, Prepare and Execute.
About a month before the shoot, our creative team will meet with the person(s) we’re hoping to film and listen to their story. We take detailed notes on the various theme(s) that recur and pay careful attention to the story arc. We’re looking for story flow, continuity and how the person delivers the story. During this first telling, we don’t ask questions or probe, we don’t want to lead the person in any way. However, after they finish telling us their story, we will ask questions to gain further clarity. During this initial interview we make it a point NOT to promise anything, sometimes after the first interview we decide that we’re unable to tell this particular story… but thats another blog post.
Once we have decided to tell a persons testimony, we set to work choosing location for the actual shoot and for b-roll footage. Location can have a huge impact to your story, so pick a place that is familiar to the story and captures the mood and tone of the narrative. For Malorie’s testimony in this article we used the street where she grew up, and b-roll of her on location at the same area.
The next step is to storyboard the testimony. Decide clearly how your story arcs and what are the main themes, where does the story turn from brokenness to redemption, what was that catalytic moment? This is important as you’ll want to make sure during the filming of the testimony, that you capture everything you need. A haphazard approach to storyboarding will yield poor results and often lead to key parts of the story being left out.
Once on location and you’ve decided what camera angles to setup, appropriate lighting and what audio/video equipment you’ll use, work hard at setting the environment so that your storyteller feels at ease and can forget that there is even a camera. This can be quite a challenge, given that the person often has lights in their eyes and a camera in their face, however, set the tone, be engaged and listen to the story as if its your first time hearing it. Nod your head, smile with your eyes and show emotion… you’ll be amazed at how much this will add to their confidence.
As you direct the shoot, its completely ok to redo certain sections at the end, or to retouch on a part of the story that you want more from. This is where the advanced planning on your storyboarding will assist… because you already know what direction you want the story to head.