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5 Tips for Making a Killer Video From Your Phone

today's phones produce stunning videos

The August 7 deadline for sharing a 90-second (or less) video about your business as part of our ongoing Small Business Big Game contest is right around the corner — and it’s an amazing opportunity to showcase who you are and why you love running the show as a small business owner or self-employed professional. 

But what if you’re not sure where to start? 

We tapped OWN IT member and professional cinematographer Pascal Depuhl to share with us his top tips for creating a video you can be proud of — even if you only have a smartphone on hand.

Read on for Pascal’s great tips…


You’ve worked with a range of different small businesses to tell their stories in video. What are your go-to ideas or themes that work best?

The #1 thing you want to express in your video is the *why.* Why is your product the best? Why is your service better? Why is your small business the right choice for a potential customer or client?Once you nail the “why,” everything else will fall into place.
The story that comes out of the answers to these questions is the backbone of your video. That story is always simple:
  • Identify a problem your customer has
  • Show why your business offers the best solution
  • Finish with a call to action
I always start by putting myself in my audience’s shoes: What do they need that I can offer? Or, do I need to explain something new to them? If it’s necessary, how can I change their mind?
Do they want to hear from another customer? Make a testimonial video featuring one of your star customers.
Do they need to hear from an expert? Shoot an interview.
Do they need to experience your location? Take them behind the scenes with a guided video tour.
Do they want to learn how your service works? Film a short tutorial.
Remember, a good story will keep customers watching. A bad one (or worse, no story at all) and your viewers will drop like flies.

I know I want to tell a compelling story with my video, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance. What is the quickest way for me to create a script before I start filming?

Good luck on not leaving anything to chance! Actually, you want chance — unless you’re filming a movie with professional actors. Your video should be real. If you script what a client says in a testimonial, it’s gonna sound canned.
That being said, it is important — scratch that, it is *vital* — to plan. The good news is you’ve already started. You’ve figured out the problem your customer has, why your small business offers the best solution and how to convince the potential client to take action. You also know if you’re creating a testimonial, a behind-the-scenes tour or a tutorial.
Write out interview questions that you think will give you the answers you need for your story. Sketch out the order in which you want to walk through a behind-the-scenes tour, or lay out the steps you are going to cover in your tutorial.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. A few notes jotted down or a few stick figures in a story board will go a long way in keeping you on track. Don’t forget to also consider the location where you’ll be filming.

I only have a smartphone that can record video. Is that good enough for creating my video, or do I need to invest in expensive equipment first?

“How to step up your video” speaking at WordCamp 2015

How to step up your video - intro #WCMIA

I had the opportunity to speak about how to step up your video at WordCamp Miami a few weeks ago. Check out the talk on video over the next few weeks. Tell me in the comments how you’re using video. In the meantime check out why I spoke about video at #WCMIA read my MarketingHack#6: Speak to influencers that your target market trusts.


Check out the other parts of this talk:

How to step up your video: Story

How to step up your video: Sound

How to step up your video: Visuals

How to step up your video: Edit

TechTip: How to power a GoPro for an all day time lapse

Setting up a Time Lapse camera

(TechTip – a short post about a quick tip that will save you time and frustration).

Wish I knew this on my last time lapse

Powering a GoPro for a Time Lapse project
I shot a day long behind the scene time lapse on my last motion job, but since the client hadn’t specified that we’re gonna be shooting a time lapse, I had not brought my usual time lapse DSLR setup that I’ve written about before, but had my GoPro Hero 3+ (@GoPro) in my kit. Even with an extended battery the camera will shoot around 2-3 hours, depending on how many photos, how large, ect. So every couple of hours we’d go check on the camera to see, if it’s still shooting.
Later my assistant told me that a GoPro will shoot while the battery is being charged externally – good to know! I put this info to the test yesterday.

Powering a multi day time lapse

Here’s my setup: GoPro Hero 3+ camera, set to take one 3K still photo every 5 seconds. I hooked up the camera via USB to a battery/inverter called Sherpa 50 made by Goal Zero (@GoalZero), the company that I purchased my solar charge set up for our shoot in the peruvian jungle last year.
The Sherpa ran the camera uninterrupted for over 14 hours, capturing almost 10,000 images until my 32GB microSD card filled up, while the GoalZero Sherpa still was at a 40% charge.