The Weasel Dialogues

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Information about The Weasel Dialogues

Published on March 9, 2009

Author: GazJJohnson



Slides to go with the March 2009 workshop on video production and screenwriting for librarians and library staff. Workshop delivered at Staffordshire University Information Literacy Community of Practice session (SUILCoP)

From script to screen for information literacy Gareth J Johnson Weasel Televisual Enterprises (and Leicester University)

An awareness of making and using  visual media for training and education Using humour and weasels to educate  Script to screen & Do It Yourself  Speilberging Group work  Pre & post production techniques 

Started in 2007 filming for fun  Moved on to developing short films  Bought a camera and software  Started using videos in (some)  teaching and training Never looked back  Waiting on big movie deal 

Humour doesn’t come naturally to  education or librarians Sad fact of life   But as powerful a tool as rhetoric or repetition But education isn’t funny!  Maybe, but comedy IS engaging   Audiences will remember serious points made  Engaging an audience a key educational goal

Definitions of comedy  “a dramatic performance which pits two societies against  each other in an amusing agon or conflict.” (wikipedia) “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you  walk into an open sewer and die.quot; (Mel Brooks) Comedy comes in many forms, and it pays to  be familiar with them Timing  Reversal of expectations or cliché  Dialogue, delivery or intonation  Antics and capering  Pathos (might not be what you’re aiming for) 

How can this be educational?  Breaks the ice  Change of focus, raises attention levels  Re-enforcement of core message  Provides respite for the speaker  Available for local and distance learners  Won’t click for every learning style  But neither does other form of instruction   Another weapon in the educational ammo dump  Reviewable post-session too

A video short can contain 1 core concept  Concept encapsulated in 25 words or less  Show don’t tell  Not a simple migration of words to screen  Need to include any actions  Basic screenwriting techniques will help  Brevity, clarity, and punch  Write for your audience  Use or adapt a template 

Screen writing formats  Useful as a guide but don’t follow strictly  See references and handouts for suggestions  Writing effective and engaging dialogue  Most is an interrogative between two speakers  Rules of thumb  1 page/1 minute  Two heads better than one  Speaking script and shooting script strictly two  different things

Start simple (stupid!)  Think message, message, message  The opening line has to grab the audience’s attention  Get someone else to read/review the script  Polish your diamonds  Choose your artistes with care  Dull inflection/intonation bring death on swift wings  Availability can be the key factor  Get someone else to film it if you can… 

Outline a movie concept in 25 words or less 1. Think about the central message  Think about your audience & stakeholders  Use the plotting template  5 Minutes  Plan 2 or 3 scenes (or more) 2. Think of locations, situations and actors   Think about practicalities of the shoot  Write the opening lines of dialogue  10 minutes

Using in-house AV teams  Access to better kit and experience  More polished final product  Reduces flexability and adaptability  Potential loss of creative control  Just shoot you  Closer creative control of final product  Readily able to adapt and adjust  More time intensive all round 

Videos are a non-trivial creation exercise  A 3-5 minute movie might well take  Plotting, scripting, planning 1-2 hours   Set up, shoot and re-shoot 1-2 hours  Editing & polishing 2-3 hours May not be consecutive periods  Helps if are relatively close together   Need for script approval can increase times

Shooting tips  Always consider simple backgrounds  Avoid cliché library book shelves if you  can  Shoot once, shoot twice, shoot thrice  Reshoot after rough cut Editing  Get a rough cut together ASAP  Screen to a small audience   Listen to their feedback or comments  Be prepared to make (minor) changes

Born digital is an easier format to work with  Less physical media lying around  Easier to back-up  Buying cameras from new  Doesn’t cost the earth  Entry level £150, serious £500 and up  Editing software cheap as chips  Movie Maker, Corel Ulead, Adobe Premier  Simple interfaces and editing tools  A spotlight will pay major visual dividends 

Information overload  Tempting to cram too much in  One or two core messages only  Clarity, pacing and engagement  Videos aren’t interactive  Short can be sweeter and punchier  Keeping it on track  Complex/long scripts make for more time  consuming shoots and editing  A little each day is a more manageable approach

 Keep thinking…  Message, message message

Get someone else to read the script out loud  Do multiple takes of every scene  Be aware of backgrounds and lighting  Use what ever software you are happy with  Make & watch a rough edit as quickly as  possible Produce the final video in both a small and  a high quality versions Back up your original footage somewhere  safe

Gareth J Johnson     0116-252-2055   

Costello, John. (2006). Writing a screenplay, 2nd edn,  Pocket Essentials Cresswell, Julia. (2000). The Penguin dictionary of  clichés, Penguin Group, London Frensham, Raymond G. (1996). Screenwriting, Hodder  Headline Plc, London Muchnick, A. (2004). When Pancakes Go Bad: Optical  Delusions with Adobe Photoshop , Course Technology PTR Novelly, Maria C. (1985). Theatre Games for Young  Performers, Meriweather Publishing Ltd, Colorado Springs Wikipedia. (2008). Comedy.  (accessed 27/5/08)

A Librarian by Any Other name: Renaming the profession? (2008)   Better Library Inductions For New Readers & Students (2008)   Boolean Logic & Database Searching (Librarian Goose) (2008)   Contrasting Blogs, Twitter & Library News Pages (2008)   Handling Customer Complaints in the Library (2008)   How to Evaluate Websites (2009)  Part 1:  Part 2:  Part 3:  Importance of Data Protection in Libraries (Librarian Goose) (2008)  

Librarian's Guide to...Understanding Academic Copyright (2007)   Surviving Library Conferences (2008)   The Genesis of Repository Policies (2009)   The Pinewood Librarian: Librarians, Libraries & Life itself (2008)   The Professional Librarian: Difficult Customers (2007)   The Professional Librarian: Fire Safety Lectures (2007)   The Professional Librarian: Inappropriate Behaviour (2007)   Your Library: A User Centric Experience (2008)  

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