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Phil Cooke Podcast

Nov 15, 2018

Church media directors know a Christmas production or Easter pageant can easily flare up into a nightmare. Here’s a checklist from Phil Cooke https://philcooke.comto help you produce a professional program that warms people’s hearts – without losing your sanity.


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Do you have a message or story the world needs to hear? As a Hollywood producer and media consultant, I offer advice for leaders and creatives each week on filmmaking, digital media, publishing, strategy, communication, leadership, culture and faith – to help you get from where you are to where you want to be in your career.


More about this episode: Church Media Checklist for Holiday Programs (or how to avoid the nightmare before Christmas)


  1. Start preparation early. Experienced media or communications professionals know you can’t start too early on a program or theatrical production. Whether it’s live, multi-cam or video-taped, get your hands on a script or musical score as soon as possible. Waiting till the last minute is recipe for your own “nightmare before Christmas.”


  1. Bring your crew into the planning process. Your media team and volunteers may have valuable ideas that can help the production. Wise directors will listen – and remember they don’t have to use all the ideas that come in.


  1. Understand lighting differences. Make sure you understand the difference between stage lighting and television lighting – and then keep in mind you don’t have to ruin one in favor of another. Find a happy medium that works well for a live audience as well as for video (which can extend the reach of your event).


  1. Create a shot list.Winging it is not a good thing! Always have a plan. If you have a shot list, you can go off it in an inspired moment – and then come back to it.


  1. Stop screaming and yelling. If you’re directing a Christmas or Easter presentation and you lose control, you instantly lose respect with your team and create frustration. Have a greater vision and inspire your crew! Make them want to do amazing work.


  1. Use cuts and dissolves correctly and know the difference between them.They are to an editor what periods and commas are to a writer. If you want something to go quickly, then cut! If you want to slow a moment, use a dissolve. These are not random editing decisions; there should be a purpose behind your choices.


  1. Shoot a rehearsal.Film a rehearsal so you can make sure you’re capturing what you envisioned. It’s worth the extra money and time to bring in a paid staff or your volunteers to shoot a rehearsal.


  1. Have a debriefing.Especially when you have multiple performances, shoot and debrief after each one. Lock your camera crew down before they leave for the evening and talk about what went wrong, what went right – and what could be done better. It’s a chance to be very inspirational with your team.


  1. Toss out normal service camera rules. A pageant is completely different than a Sunday service, so your cameras should be set up accordingly. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to move the cameras around according to the script or music plan. Choose the best way to capture the program.


For any pageant or production, always think in terms of starting the planning process early. You can also apply these same strategies to shooting a filming a concert or a worship album. Any kind of special event will benefit if you think through this checklist in the early stages. – Phil Cooke



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