All posts tagged movie making

Putting it all Together (Making Sermon Videos Part 3)


Cast away

Now you have a great concept, a beginning, middle and [maybe] end, now you just need some great actors to pull off your masterpiece. Unless you are blessed with living in Hollywood you probably don’t have professional actors to pull from. A good place to start looking is in your drama ministry, if your church has one. If not, perhaps the people that work with kids, they often tend to be very expressive. If none of these work, you can do what we oftentimes do…the “fog” test. Hold up a mirror to someone’s mouth and see if they fog it…if so, you have an actor!!


Many people have a hard time acting because they have a hard time remembering lines, that’s why we generally shoot a concept not a script. The director’s job then becomes to coach the actors before each scene and let them know a general idea of what they are supposed to do, and let them go for it. Are you going to win any awards? No, probably not, but you are helping to include people in teaching the message in a relevant way, and chances are it won’t turn out half-bad. Besides, it is my opinion that people enjoy a lower quality video with people they know and recognize rather than a video that is well made but with people they don’t know.

Also, when you use people you know, it is easier to tie in inside jokes. For example we made a video called “Ministry Swap” where my lovely wife was a teacher in children’s church and she swapped places with one of our drummers. You may watch the video and get a chuckle, but when our congregation saw it they were rolling! The difference is that they know these people and know how absurd the “swap” really was.

please install flash

Cut to the Chase

So, everything is filmed and ready for the cutting floor. This is probably one of the toughest parts of the process. First you need to digitize the footage and bring it into a non-linear editing program. If you don’t know how to do this, find a 12-year old kid and ask them to show you how.

As a rule of thumb, cut the video to be as short as possible. After you think it is finished show someone and get their opinion of the slower or weaker parts, then go back in and make it shorter. They say that great films aren’t edited they are re-edited!

As you are piecing together the clips of your blockbuster, please do everyone a favor…only use hard cuts and dissolves! There is no need for wipes, flips, 3D rotates and so forth unless the mood of the video calls for it or is you are going for the ultra cheesy look. When you go to the movies you never see those flashy transitions. In my opinion that is the difference of a pro and a rookie…well, maybe not completely.

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The Story (Making Sermon Videos Part 2)


Beginning, Middle and End (and when to break this rule)

Even if your time crunch doesn’t allow a fully written script, you can come up with the beginning, middle and end. Do not underestimate this step!  When coming up with a new concept ask yourself these questions:

  • Where does my story start (beginning)
  • How will it end (end)
  • How does it get there? (middle)

Many times people try to overcomplicate this process. Please don’t. Decide what point you want to get across or what question you want to ask and then figure out how to set it up and how to conclude it.

One thing to consider which does seems to contradict the “beginning, middle, end” philosophy and that is realizing that in some cases the video doesn’t really need to have an end. Now, you think I’m crazy! If you were shooting a movie or short to be played by itself with no explanation you would need to resolve everything, but often the videos that churches find most useful either show just a scenario or leave it open ended for the teacher to tie together.

An example of this is a video we created called “God’s Phone System.” In this video we were showing what it would be like if God had a phone system. Several people called in and through the next couple minutes became frustrated with pressing the correct options and getting put on “hold.” That video doesn’t stand well on its own, but when someone then begins to teach about prayer and how God isn’t like a phone system, it is a home run!

please install flash

Go for the Opposite

Sometimes the best video illustration is one that actually demonstrates the opposite of what you are trying to communicate. Maybe make a short informercial about a product that will supposedly help you to hear from God better. Or maybe an interview with someone that is talking about how they overcame anger but they get mad at the interviewer during the process.

That’s the great thing about video. You can hit a completely absurd angle which gets everyone laughing, and then the speaker can come up and drive home a point about prayer or about how each of us struggle with anger at times even if we don’t admit it.