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Sample Project: The Interrogation

If you’ve watched enough television shows or movies, you’re familiar with the interrogation scene. One room, one detective, one suspect, and many angles, both figuratively and literally. This project is adapted from one that vanguard media educator James Gleason has used for nearly three decades.

Workflow

Congratulations! You have now made it to the point in your video production education where there are enough steps in the workflow of the project to separate them into the specific categories mentioned in Chapter 1.

Development

Start by writing a one-page script where the following events occur. You get to choose the names of the two characters.

  1. A suspect sits alone in an interrogation room.
  2. A detective walks into an interrogation room holding a piece of evidence.
  3. Three questions are asked of the suspect. Each one plays off the answer to the previous question.
  4. The suspect answers each question simply, quickly, and without hesitation.
  5. Fit in a demand from either the detective or the suspect.
  6. Allow the evidence the detective walked in with to be revealed in some way.
  7. The shock of the reveal of the evidence silences the suspect.
  8. Leave the scene with some ambiguity about the suspect’s guilt or innocence.

Preproduction

With your script complete, it’s time to cast your movie. It’s easy to get a couple of friends to play the parts, but remember your friends may lose focus. You’re better off using your newly learned casting skills to find some talent from a local drama class or theater troop.

Continue the process by following these steps:

  1. Plan your shots with an overhead diagram, shot sheet, and storyboards.
  2. Find a location that best suits the scene.
  3. Sketch out how the location space could transform into a believable interrogation room.
  4. Create breakdowns for props, set pieces, and wardrobe.
  5. Put together a budget, a crew list, a gear list, a detailed schedule (shot by shot), and a call sheet. Don’t forget to schedule in time for a lunch break!
  6. Schedule and arrange a casting session. Invite members of local drama classes and theater troops. (Your friends need to audition too.)
  7. Once you’ve cast the parts, hold a rehearsal.

Production

With this project being only a page long, you should expect the shoot to last about four to six hours. Follow your schedule as closely as you can. For variety of coverage, shoot the actions of entire scene in each angle. You might want to capture additional shots that come to mind during the shoot. Hold onto those ideas, but don’t act on them until each scheduled shot is completed. Most importantly, have fun!

Postproduction

Follow these steps to bring all the pieces together:

  1. Assemble your rough cut.
  2. Get feedback from your cast and crew.
  3. Make your trims.
  4. Sweeten the sound.
  5. Post it online.
  6. Read the next chapter.
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