As I’m a little weary from all the conversations around leadership, business performance and L&D's value, I thought you might like something even wearier, but semi-practical.

Back in 2012, I officially started my sporadic affair with video production. It was borne out of necessity as I was managing a commercial Business Unit for a local authority and I needed to do start doing what every other smart business was doing in the digital marketing space.

I was lucky enough to know a filmmaker who helped me film a promotional and client testimonials.  During this time, I became interested in the whole production process and subscribed onto a beginner’s course at a local film school.  

Since then, I’ve gone on to fully produce other videos; from band promotions and induction pieces, to mobility aid instructionals - yes, to date I’ve shown 8,000 people how to use a commode.  

Swipe (!) right to today and I’m a little better at video, a little wiser….but I’d still class myself as a beginner.  So if you’re on the cusp of starting out with video production, here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

1. Learn photography

In 2010, I went to the Highlands in Scotland. I took a camera, dialled in ‘A’ for Auto, ‘S’ for Safe and ‘B’ for Boring. I deleted many digital memories.  

And so my second midlife crisis began.  

Propelled by my determination to learn a new skill, the mix of theory and practical was supported through magazines and conversations with seasoned amateurs.

You don’t need to go nuts on this, but there are some basic principles that I believe will serve you well.

a) Understand framing e.g. Rule of Thirds, but break the rules.  Frame in your head - that's why Directors do that frame thing with their fingers (I think).

b) Learn your camera, particularly things that you can control manually (e.g. ISO, White Balance, Metering). Yes, even your phone has these features.

c) Understand basic lighting.  Not essential and an art in itself.

2. Read comics

Available free from all good libraries, observe how the story is put together, how emotion can be conveyed succinctly through one image, one quote.  Comics provide great framing ideas too.

3. DSLR vs. Every Other Device

Yes I’m familiar with the words ‘portability’ and ‘convenience’, and I could pretend and say it doesn’t really matter, but DSLRs do it for me.  The money goes on the lenses, but a decent lens like a 50mm 1.8 (great for blurred background, sharp foreground) can start from as little as £50.  Avoid body/lens kits.  Buy a tripod and/or a monopod.  Second hand is good, but as with anything, buy carefully.  

4. Buy a decent microphone

I’m not totally convinced by what’s integrated on your device, which is why I go external (Zoom H4N for me).  If you really must insist, then at least tidy up the audio (see 6).

5. Don’t storyboard

Seriously, you ain’t Columbia Pictures.  A script and having some framework of what you want to film is helpful, but be flexible enough to change things as you go along.  I know this sounds terribly amateur and inefficient, but that’s because I am and it is. I find storyboarding stifling, and anyway, I can’t draw.

6. Start with iMovie and Audacity

I did, then tech moved on.  Software vendors are not in the business of making your life entirely complicated.  Pick a favourite (e.g. YouTube, Adobe Premiere Pro) and learn features progressively or as and when.  Chances are if you can think the idea in your head, the software can do it...and better!  Learn through kids, or YouTube, or kids on YouTube.

7.  DVD

Defectless Video Disorder.
I’ve observed and attempted perfection. It stops you getting stuff out there.  Stop it.  Stop it now.


Anyway, what do I know.  I would love to hear your stories and tips.