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FIlmAre you ready for your close-up?

INany improv groups are capitalizing on the ever-increasing power of the web by producing promotional videos.

In fact, recognizing this trend, the 2011 INNY Awards for achievement in the field of improv included Best Promo Video for the first time.

Although the nominees differ tremendously in style and technique, each video communicates far more about the team than the obligatory post cards and mass email blasts.

2011 INNY Nominees for Best Promo Video

Before you do anything else, take some time to view on-line promo videos from other improv groups and even music videos that you like. See if you can distill what it is that appeals to you about each video. 

When you're ready, IN has compiled a list of  10  things to consider before the camera rolls on your promo video.


  1   Brand "Know thyself." No matter who you are or what your profession, it all starts there. How does your team describe itself? Sit down together, have a conversation and write down your answers. You may be surprised to hear what the rest of your team thinks. How do your fans describe you? Ask fans for some adjectives. Based sheerly on your name, postcard and other promo materials, how would someone who's never seen your show describe you? Ask a couple people who fall into that category. Take the time up front to answer these questions and you'll save yourself wasted time and energy down the line.

  2   Budget You don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money for your first video, but plan your expenses ahead of time, so there are no surprises. You can always call in favors and negotiate for freebies for things like equipment, crew, food, actors, etc. For instance, list donating companies as sponsors, help film students and actors build their reels by offering copies of the final product and network with your friends who owe you favors.

  3   Goals What do you want this video to accomplish? What are your team's goals - short term and long term? Do you want to get into a festival? Bring people to your shows? Draw people to your website? Be clear about what you want your primary goal to be upfront and remember it as you shoot.

  4   Concept What mood do you want to create with your video? Your team's goals and budget will influence the concept and plot of your story. Yes, every good promo video has some sort of story.

  5   Quality Don't put anything on the web that doesn't represent you well. Poorly lit, hand-held, shaky show footage is not going to lure new audience members and can leave the viewer with the impression that you're unprofessional. Don't include it in your video, no matter how funny you think it is. The humor in short and long form improv shows get lost in the translation on video. You think it's funny because you were there, or because you love improv, or because you said it.  The type of promo video we're talking about is not clips of your shows strung together, but a whole different animal; a hybrid between sketch and improv with a little music video thrown in.

  6   Equipment The type of camera you use will depend on 1. What your budget is/what you have access to... 2. Where you expect the final product to be be shown - web vs. a video screen, for instance. Insider Tip:  B & H is a great resource, either on the phone or in person for your questions about equipment. There are also affordable places to rent equipment like DCTV, but don't rent anything you, or someone on your crew, have never used before.

  7   Crew Who's operating the camera, helping plan the project and running things on set, taking care of sound, wardrobe, press photos (might as well take photos while you're shooting), directing, etc.?  Even if you're dividing up roles amongst team members, it's helpful to clearly define who's doing what upfront.

  8   Editing and Titles Take some time to edit your video, it makes all the difference. Adding titles before and after your promo makes you look more professional and helps you communicate your message even further.

  9   Music There's plenty of free music out there. Your editor will know where to find some. Soundtrack Pro, a part of the Final Cut Studio Suite has options for every mood. Also, don't be afraid to trade. Find an up and coming band and offer to give them credit in exchange for using some of their music.

  10  Fun At the end of the day, you're improvisers; so go with the flow. No mater how much planning you do, things never go completely according to plan even on the most elaborate of sets. Think on your feet, stay positive and enjoy the ride.IN


by Improvisation News


Rob Schiffmann
Rob Schiffmann

Rob Schiffmann DOES IT ALL!

Rob Schiffmann is a great improviser / music improviser. As a musician, Rob stands out. As an emcee, Rob has worked with Pepsi, WebMD & more. 3-time MAC Award winner & INNY 2011 Best Improv Coach winner, Rob DELIVERS. & www.broadwaysnexthitmusical.<