Once you have a topic approved for your story, you need to complete pre-production. This part of the process includes planning when you will record and what you will record. The steps below use as an example a story about Logan Live!, a daily student-produced TV show.
Organize Your Project
Create a folder for your project within your class Google Drive folder with the name News-TITLE-NAMES and substitute one or two words for TITLE that summarize what your approved story is about, and substitute you and your partner’s names for NAMES. Make sure you do not use any special characters in the folder title, except for hyphens between each word.
For example: News-Logan-Live-Rita-B-Jim-S
Use Google Backup and Sync to keep your project folder Cloud and computer versions synchronized.
Create a Pre-Production Text Document
Save the document in your project folder with the name
News-TITLE-NAMES-Pre-Production using the same substitution as above.
For example: News-Logan-Live-Rita-B-Jim-S-Pre-Production
Include the following:
1. The names of who will be the Reporter/Writer and the Videographer/Editor.
2. A one sentence summary of what your story will be about that can serve as an anchor lead-in. When stories are shown as part of a newscast, a studio anchor usually introduces them. The “Lead-in” is what the anchor says before the story starts. Sometimes a rhetorical question will work. Here is a sample:
How does a daily student-produced newscast affect the students and staff at James Logan High School? Here is Terry with the story.
3. A brief outline of how you envision your story: the beginning, middle and end. As you type this, imagine you are watching your finished story. If you have every written a 5-paragraph essay, your story outline can be similar: The beginning is like a thesis statement with supporting topics. It introduces your story in an interesting way. The middle is similar to the body paragraphs. They supply details about your supporting topics. The ending is your conclusion that summarizes key story points and leaves the viewer with something to think about. Here is an example:
Logan Live provides information and entertainment
Produced by Students
Appreciated by some
Not appreciated by others
Will it change?
4. One sentence describing the people you intend to interview. List the names of specific people if possible. Plan on recording five interviews with people who are credible subjects based upon your topic. For example:
Logan Live staff
Teachers and administrators
Students from all grade levels who represent the audience.
5. One paragraph describing the B-roll footage you will need to shoot. The name B-roll comes from a time when a reel of film containing interviews (the A roll) was played back on one projector, while a second reel that contained footage of an event (B roll) was played in sync on another projector. The term now refers to any footage shown while someone off-camera speaks. It is best when related to what is being said at the time. Here is a sample description of B-roll footage:
Logan Live! show excerpts
Behind-the-scenes production shots
Students and staff watching the show
6. A one-paragraph production schedule listing when you plan to record what and where. For example:
Thursday 11/20 – 2nd period: Interviews with students and staff who watch the show (classrooms)
Friday 11/21 – 1st & 2nd periods: Interviews with Logan Live staff and b-roll footage of show production (studio)
7. A list of interview questions for each subject you plan to interview.
A. Qualifying questions. These are used by the reporter while finding people to interview for the story. If the people you are talking to are obviously part of your story, you may not have to ask them a qualifying question. For a story about Logan Live!, if a person does not answer yes to one of the following questions, an interview with them will most likely be a waste of time.
Do you watch Logan Live?
Do you help produce Logan Live?
B. Background questions: These questions provide information used to identify the speaker: Name, Title, Affiliation. Background questions should be asked right after the videographer confirms that recording is in progress.
NAME – This gets the most basic identifier:
What is your name and how do you spell it? (Hearing how they pronounce their name will help if the reporter mentions them. The correct spelling of their name is necessary to create an on-screen graphic that identifies them.)
TITLE & AFFILIATION – This identifies how they relate to the story. Here are some samples depending upon the person being interviewed:
]Students] What year will you graduate? (A student will not always be a freshman, sophomore, etc., but they will always be part of their graduating class: Class of 2020, etc. If it is not obvious what school they attend, ask them.)
[Athletes] What position do you play? (If it is not obvious what team they play for, ask them. You might also ask them how long they have been playing.)
[Members] What is your position in the club? (Officer? Member? Advisor)
[Staff Members] What is your job title and what organization are you with? (If you know the person is a teacher, you should ask what subjects they teach. If you are not sure what organization they work for, ask them.)
C. Topic questions: Used to get information that tells your story. You may have different sets of questions for different people, based upon how they are related to your story.
Use short answer questions only to gather facts. For example:
How long has Logan Live! been produced?
When did this studio open?
Use open-ended questions for sound bites: phrases and sentences that provide details. For example:
How do you contribute to the production of Logan Live?
What are some of the challenges in producing a daily live show?
What are the benefits of producing Logan Live?
How do you think Logan Live could be improved?
What do you like most about Logan Live and why?
How do you think Logan Live benefits students and staff?
How do you think Logan Live could be improved and why?
Why or why not should Logan Live be shown daily to all students?
Remember, interview questions are used to GET THE PERSON TO TALK! Before the interview, check your topic questions. Here are some ways to turn a short-answer question into an open-ended question: Add “and why?” or “Please explain your answer.”
As you listen to an interview answer, make sure you hear information that will help tell your story. If not, be ready to ask a follow up question, such as
Please tell me more.
What do you mean by …?
How does that affect you?
Refer to your production schedule and arrange for your camera, microphone, tripod, etc. When you check out the equipment, make sure everything works. Also remember to return the equipment on time. For James Logan High School productions, all equipment needs to be returned the next school day before the start of 1st period, unless other arrangements have been approved by the teacher.