1st Edition

The Producer's Playbook: Real People on Camera Directing and Working with Non-Actors

By Amy DeLouise Copyright 2016
    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera is a no-nonsense guide for producers looking to get the best performances from "real people" to tell powerful stories on video. Director/producer Amy DeLouise brings years of experience to this resource for creating the best on-screen impact with non-actors for interviews, re-enactments, documentary and direct-to-camera messages. With useful case studies and tips on everything from managing locations and budgeting to strategies for managing crews and the expectations of executive producers and clients, this is an invaluable resource for professionals working in reality TV, documentary, corporate video, and more.

      • Ample case studies with perspectives from industry professionals interviewed by the author, as well as her own plentiful stories from the field
      • Tips are featured in sidebars throughout the text, so that readers can see how the information applies to real situations
      • Full-color photographs allow readers to visualize real world production situations
      • The appendix includes useful templates and checklists for working producers

    I. Introduction

    • Motivation and goals for this book
    • The opportunities inherent in using "real people," not pro’s
    • How to use the tools and case studies in this book for a wide range projects involving real people on camera-- reality TV, documentary, podcasts, journalism, news magazine, and short-form non-fiction such as corporate, issue advocacy, education and training.

    II. Preparation

    Ch. 1 Getting to Know Your Subjects

    • Researching Your Characters
    • Validators and Character Foils
    • Casting & Pre-Qualifying
    • Casting Children
    • Phone Pre-interviews
    • Rounding up visual assets (photos, video, etc.)
    • Knowing handlers
    • When Pre-Interviews or Casting Aren’t Possible or Wise

    Ch. 2 Preproduction Logistics

    • Budgeting and Bidding
    • Scheduling to allow creativity and spontaneity
    • Location Scouting
    • Locations for Interviews
    • Locations for re-enactments and b-roll
    • Location agreements
    • Talent Releases
    • Other rights to be aware of
    • Music rights
    • Copyrighted artwork/sculptures/architecture

    Ch. 3 Planning Your Story

    • Story Arc Planning
    • When Reality Demands a Script
    • Planning for Scenarios and Re-enactments
    • Planning for B-roll

    III. In the Field

    Ch. 4 Tools and Strategies

    • Tapping into the Inner Performer
    • Introducing Your Team
    • Using Hair & Makeup as a "Way In"
    • Managing EP’s and Handlers
    • Coaching without scaring

    Ch. 5 Direct-to-Camera Delivery

    • To Rehearse or Not to Rehearse?
    • Working with VIP’s and Experts
    • Working with Children
    • Nervous or Worried Subjects
    • Teleprompters
    • From iPads and do-it-yourself to prompter operator systems
    • Green-screen: When it works, when it doesn’t
    • Camera Set-up Layouts and Recommendations
    • Case Studies: from Justin Bieber to Annie Lennox

    Ch. 6 Scenarios & Re-enactments

    • Maximizing the Advantages of Real People in Scenes
    • Scenario vs Re-enactment: Which Do You Need?
    • Scenario Shot Planning
    • Obstacles and How to Avoid Them
    • Challenging Scenario Settings
    • Directing Kids in Scenarios
    • Planning in the Field that affects Your Edit
    • Master Shots, Camera Set-ups and Alternates
    • Coverage Options with Video Cameras and DSLRs
    • Post Production Strategies
    • Tips for keeping on schedule & budget
    • Case Study: Operating room safety "right way" "wrong way"
    • Case Study: Documentary re-enactment

    Ch. 7 Beyond the Soundbite: Storytelling Through Interviews

    • Preparing for Your Interview
    • Camera setup and interviewer on or off-camera decisions
    • Setting Your Subject at Ease
    • Location considerations
    • Crew positioning
    • Creating a Story Arc with Interview Questions
    • When to use Talking Points, When to Avoid Them
    • Learning Styles and How They Impact Your Interview Strategy
    • Getting B-roll of Interview Subjects
    • Planning for Interview Post
    • Transcriptions, Audio recognition, and making your editor happy
    • Future-Proofing
    • Edit Workflows for Multiple Deliverables
    • Camera Set-up Recommendations (1-camera and 2-camera)
    • Tips for keeping on schedule & budget

    Ch. 8 Challenging Interviews

    • Young children
    • Traumatized Subject
    • Nervous/inexperienced
    • VIPs, Celebrities and Experts
    • ESOL & When to Use a Translator
    • Experienced Interviewees
    • Case Study: Palestinian youth in outside location
    • Case Study: Philanthropic women in studio
    • Case Study: Appalachian families at home
    • Case Study: Woman who lost a child to SIDS

    IV Managing Executive Producer, Crew & Client Relationships

    Ch. 9 Defining the Mission

    • Connecting to Strategic Plans
    • Knowing the Players

    Ch. 10 Workflows and Planning

    • Tools for Information-Sharing
    • Creating Value and Multiple Deliverables

    Ch. 11 Cultivating Your Crew Relationships

    • Setting Expectations
    • Selecting the Right Team
    • Food Matters
    • Thanking and Mentoring

    Ch. 12 Getting Approvals: from Storyboards to Final Cuts

    • Group Think and How to Avoid It
    • Strategies for Silos and Management Styles
    • Turning Challenging People into Team Players
    • Button-Pushers, Non-Deciders and People with Other Agendas
    • Big Personalities and Inexperienced Leaders

    Conclusions & Final Tips


    As an accomplished video director/producer with more than 400 productions to her credit, Amy is an expert at working with non-professionals on camera. Her more than 40 creative excellence awards include the Telly, Peer, New York Festivals, Aurora, and CINE Golden Eagle. She was also honored with the Woman of Vision Leadership Award from Women in Film & Video of Washington, D.C.

    Amy is a sought-after speaker on a range of digital video topics at such industry conferences as the National Association of Broadcasters convention (NABShow). Her popular Lynda.com courses on Script Writing for Nonfiction Video, The Art of the Video Interview, and Video Editing: Moving from Production to Post can be found at www.lynda.com/AmyDeLouise. She has a B.A. in English from Yale University.

    With Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera, Amy brings her no-nonsense style, real-world anecdotes, and passion for non-fiction storytelling to film students and experienced production professionals alike. Amy offers additional tips, resources and blog posts at www.amydelouise.com.