Scripts and Outlines

To script or not to script? When you are on stage with other actors, you need to follow a script, but in a science or wildlife film, the needs are slightly different.

Few people can deliver engaging, believable scripted lines in front of a camera. For most of us, speaking someone else’s written word from memory fails to convey genuine feeling and show emotion. To get content that comes naturally and in an almost spontaneous fashion from hosts or other characters, simply let your characters tell their stories. Ask anyone how they feel about careless boaters slicing manatees with their propellers, and you will likely get some genuine heartfelt responses in front of the camera. They will sound more convincing than any scripted lines you could write.

On the other hand, few people can consistently present scientifically accurate and complete phrases in front of the camera without memorizing scripted lines. A smart way around this is to script important science-specific content and see if your host is willing to talk specifically to those points if they didn’t cover it earlier.

Try to capture a blend of unscripted vibrant stories told to the camera with an occasional scripted section on the stickier science stuff.

It’s crucial that you are accurate and meticulous in the presentation of your research. You will receive plenty of accurate science from your host and on-camera characters, but it never hurts to double check. And if an on-camera expert misses an important science point, you can cover it with footage and a voice-over from your host.

Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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