How to manage the scriptwriting process

The script is more than likely to be the toughest part of the entire production process. After all, the script is really an invention. It’s a solution to a problem, whether sharing a technical insight, conveying a solution that only a particular product can provide, or putting a brand head and shoulders above the rest.

“We need a script. So, who writes it?” Hopefully an experienced video production company or producer will take the reins before a client has a chance to ask this question.  But this is not always the case. Long before consulting with a producer the client may move forward with the scriptwriting process internally: “Isn’t this something that we can do in-house? Who knows the subject-matter better than us?”

Thus begins the process of handing off the job to an internal product expert with an already busy schedule. And the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months. Then we come to find out that the job was handed off again to a newly hired admin who’s even more overwhelmed by this request. Most people have never written a script. But how hard is it?

In most cases, everyone will know the importance of a well drafted script. However, despite the best intentions, the client or inexperienced producer may prolong the writing process for a number of reasons. These include a failure to collaborate or share in the writing process. On the other hand, sometimes the client or producer will seek the approval of dozens in an effort to share responsibility. In the right hands this could be a good thing. In the wrong hands this could lead to more delay and a loss of quality control.

Consulting numerous opinions on the script does not have to be a sign of weakness or indecision. Multiple stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) should be consulted for their valuable opinions. However, rarely does everybody agree on every word in the script. A responsible project manager will consider conflicting opinions and also avoid the “kitchen sink” approach. This is where everything but the kitchen sink is thrown into the script in a democratic effort to please everyone. The result is usually a watered down, lengthy and monotonous video that fails to focus on the real story.  

The job of the video production company is to guide the client – to help them define their objectives and write the script. This begins by finding their comfort level. Suggest ideas that perhaps may seem crazy at first but may be an actual solution to their message. Once the objective of the film is well understood, it is time to gather the information to write the script. Take ownership. Be of service by coordinating with the company’s SMEs. This can begin with a request for existing marketing and technical information, including white papers, technical bulletins and marketing resources. It all depends on how much information the company has on hand. Schedule a meeting with the SMEs. Interview them. With enough time set aside, take this opportunity to ask a lot of questions and work through obtaining good answers to begin writing the script.

The video production company must manage the scriptwriting process and help educate the client throughout all phases of production.