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Who Should Tell the Story?

A story can be told by just about anyone. But a good story must be told in the right way by the right person. For example, you probably wouldn’t have the Jolly Green Giant as a pitchman for feminine hygiene products any more than you would use an interview with the Jabba the Hutt to sell weight lifting equipment.

As producers and/or writers, one of the first things we need to determine is who should tell the story. Should it be an on camera narrator or a voice over? Or, should all the information all be presented through interviews clips?

When deciding who should tell the story, it’s a good idea to consider the project’s objective and the intended audience.

Does you project need to educate, persuade, motivate, sell, or train? Knowing the objective – and the type of information that needs to be included in the program – helps determine whether the project calls for an on camera narrator, voice over or interview.

For example, an installation video targeted to professional technicians would work nicely with an on camera narrator to demonstrate the procedures. The narrator would probably be scripted to sound like the audience members, using familiar trade language in a conversational manner.

A visitor orientation video might be better served with an off-camera narrator rather than a real employee on camera to protect shelf life. If a real employee is used as an on-camera narrator and the employee leaves – especially if they go to a competitor – the entire program has to be redone. Using an off-camera narrator also keeps the focus on the facility and allows for easier updates if the company is sold in the future.

Of course a program for a teen audience would not normally call for a formal adult on-camera narrator. But it might work well to have a teen on-camera host. Or, if the subject is a serious social issue like drugs or gangs, interviews with teens and others directly affected by the issue carry a log of weight and lend credibility to a skeptical audience.

Whatever the project and target audience, make sure the project’s voice reflects and speaks to the sensibilities, language and ideals of the audience.

Susan Reetz, of Clear Focus Media, LLC, is a writer/director/producer for film, video, web and print. Her scriptwriting and producing work has earned numerous local, national, and international awards. She also writes feature articles, brochure copy, news releases, web copy, and other promotional materials. She can be reached at 715-212-6239 or Susan@ClearFocus.Media.


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