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Good Video and Good Cause Marketing

Lights. Camera. Help. is an Austin-based nonprofit that is dedicated to encouraging nonprofits and cause marketing driven organizations to use film and video to tell their stories. Lights. Camera. Help. was cofounded by David J. Neff, coauthor of The Future of Nonprofits (Wiley) and does its work through education and volunteer match programs, screenings, and an annual film festival.

David has five nonprofit film tips:

  • Know your story. What are you filming today? Before you ever buy a camera, write a script, or sign up for YouTube, know what story you’re trying to tell. Your story is the same thing as your elevator pitch. Is it funny, serious, light-hearted, or something else? Figure that out and write it down before you start.

  • Buy a good camera. Before you haul that donated, bulky VHS camera out of the closet, ask yourself, “How do I get this footage online?” That's right. You don't. It's time for an upgrade. Invest in a Kodak Zi8. It's one of the better HD cameras on the market and is easy to use.

  • Buy a good microphone. No one wants to crank up the volume on their laptop to hear your film. Make sure that you have good sound from the get-go. If you’re outside, move away from noisy areas, such as busy roadways or construction sites. If you’re inside, find a quiet area. If you bought the Zi8 (see preceding bullet), pick up the ECM-DS70P microphone from Sony for a killer combo!

  • Don't go into the light, Carol Ann. Watch out for poor lighting. When you’re filming that great interview with a volunteer or capturing the great work your executive director does so that you can share it with donors, make sure that you have good lighting.

    Avoid shadowy faces or faces that look green or yellow under office lighting. Don't trust your eyes. Review the footage at the scene so that you can make adjustments and reshoot, if necessary.

  • Buy a good editing program. Schools and colleges in your area offer courses on film editing. You can also check out what David offers at www.lightscamerahelp.com. You need to know how to use film-editing software. Gone are the days of cutting film reels with razor blades. Now, everything is edited on a computer. David’s suggestions for software are iMovie for Mac and Sony Vegas for PC.

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