Friday, January 5, 2018

How to make your own promo video

Joe Sutphin is an Ohio-based illustrator who produced his own behind-the-scenes video.

(Link to Video on YouTube) I think he did a beautiful job with it, so I asked him: Can you tell me how the video came to be and how you produced it? Did you do it by yourself? How did you learn video? I believe his story might inspire GurneyJourney readers who are thinking of creating their own behind-the scenes videos, book trailers, or how-to tutorials.

Joe says: "This past year has been tough at times, financially speaking. In 2017, I didn’t land a single new book illustration job. I finished writing a kids novel, did sample art for it, and my agent submitted it to at least 15 editors who each passed on it. I finished 2 illustrated kids novels that were landed in 2016, and turned in sketches for a picture book, but that has been slow due to several editors coming and going on the project. I actually just got the final manuscript last week, and that's a book I landed 2 summers ago, just to show you how slow-paced the picture book world can move at times. This drought has caused me to really consider what things I can be doing on my own to help work come my way."

"All that said, I started getting requests for speaking engagements, which I realized I really enjoy doing. It's very fulfilling to speak with kids and adults and encourage them in what they do. So I spent a good month putting together a nice visual Keynote presentation all about my childhood as a kid who was really only good at drawing pictures, and how that led to a career as an illustrator. I treated it with the same care I would any project, knowing that I was building a product. My good friend Brannon McAllister recommended that I make a short introduction video on my website to help promote me speaking at schools and libraries and whatnot. Really just a way to get educators and librarians to understand the gist of what my visit would entail. I was just thinking, a shot of my head talking to the camera: 'Hi, I'm Joe Sutphin, blah blah blah, let me come speak at your school or library.' With clips of my studio life spliced in here and there. Nothing too fancy."

"My wife Gina was hard at work, making Christmas gifts on her lathe down in her shop, so I just started filming little clips of the scenery in my studio upstairs by myself, using my Samsung Galaxy 7 phone’s Pro Settings, which allowed me to give it that yellowy, overcast haze."

"After I had shot about 30 or 40 little clips of studio space, I dumped them into Dropbox and pulled them into iMovie on my MacBook, which I've actually never used before. I spent many hours as a teenager making movies with my buddies, and always editing them in creative ways, so I had some general sense of what to try. I started editing clips together, and quickly realized that I didn’t want to talk to the camera and try to sell my school visits anymore. The images I was seeing felt more intimate and special than that, and I’m honestly not very natural at trying to sell things. I’m far better at telling a story than selling an idea."

"So I started writing a little monologue, and when I write articles for I tend to start with an idea in mind and just try to tell my story with an arc. A start, which usually involves some form of tension. A turn, where there is either light at the end of the tunnel, or sometimes its where things might seem to get heavier. Then a conclusion, which can be a thoughtful statement or even a question to cause the reader to think beyond what they read, and might lead them to comment on the article. So my monologue just flowed with the basic themes of my presentation, from a kid not fitting in, to finding his place due to his talents. Then I used a little stand I found and strapped my phone to it and started shooting little action shots with me in them to fit with some of the things in my dialogue. And each time I added more shots, I would read the dialogue back and see what might need to change with the pacing of it, and what other shots I might like to insert. It was really organic. The videos were all shot over a 2 day span, but no outdoor light was present, so the time of day didn’t matter."

"After I had edited all the video together, I sat down and paced my final dialog to what was on film, practiced it a few times, and then recorded the audio track on my old digital Korg recorder downstairs and a condenser mic I have. The hardest part was just trying to read the dialogue without sounding like I was reading, while keeping my eye on the video to be sure my pacing was just right. I was able to cut and move audio once I inserted it in iMovie though."

"Then I asked my friend Michael, who leads the band at our church, if he would have time to record a little guitar thing I've heard him play before. It's a song he wrote about a guy in the 1930’s, falling in love and going off to war. The lyrics weren’t important, but the music was stuck in my head and I was certain it was the right thing for the film. I was floored, moved to tears, when Michael sent the audio track to me a few days later, and how perfectly it fit the structure of the film. Getting more music like that would be the hardest part of repeating such a film. It really all fell together so amazingly for not knowing what I was getting into."
Visit Joe Sutphin's website


Carole Pivarnik said...

That is a lovely video. Poignant and definitely something I can relate to.

DougInNC said...

That was extremely moving. If that doesn't get Joe some more speaking engagements I would be very surprised. I know that if I had a child, Joe is one person I would push to have the school invite to speak to all the children. He obviously has an important message to present.

Thanks you, James, for finding and sharing this. I am addicted to your blog, not only for the things I learn about creating art, but also because of the interesting things you run across and share with us.


Windspiel said...

Thank you for sharing this video and little interview. I wish someone like him had spoken to me/ my class when I was young.

Willow's Quiet Corner said...

I couldn't have stated it any better than Doug. Thank you for sharing this. I have bookmarked it for future inspiration.