Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why you can't think of a standup

When I first broke into the business I would go out with a photog, get my sound bites and b-roll, and then inevitably hear the photog ask, "Standup?" Oh yeah, gotta do one of those. It's a rule.

So I'd knock out something without much thought and generally throw it at the end of a package.

Standups are often uncomfortable for young reporters. After all, it's not natural to stand out in the middle of a location and talk to a camera while stuff is going on around you. You worry how you look, how you sound, and if the standup makes sense. So you throw something simple together for a standup close.

In reality, you should start thinking of a standup the minute you start doing the story.

(Okay, J-School purists, get off your high horses with your indignant standups-add-nothing-to-the-story arguments. Enjoy your lives in Palookaville.)

There's a reason you start a resume tape with a standup montage. And there's a reason News Directors want to see standups first.

It's because they're important, and show your ability to think creatively in the field.

So don't leave your standup to the end of your shoot. When you arrive at your first location, start thinking about how you can incorporate a standup into the package.

-Perhaps the story has two locations, and a standup can get you from one to the other.

-The story may cry out for something to be demonstrated. Don't talk about how something works, show me.

-The story might need some sort of re-enactment, and you can lead the viewers along the way.

-You might want to get involved in the story. Don't tell me about the opening of the sports complex with the batting cage, pick up a bat and swing away.

-Show and tell is always the best thing you can do.

There are no rules about standups. You can be as creative as possible. And remember that a clever standup bridge is always more effective than a standup close. Walking standups add energy to the package. (Don't even think about getting back on that horse, J-school people.)

Remember that your standup not only gives you face time but showcases your ability to tie a story together. Once you get in the habit of looking for standup opportunities, you'll be able to see many possibilities instead of struggling to throw anything together for the end of your package.



Anonymous said...

I am completely confused about a stand up that I feel I must do but don't know how to make it work. I shot a story 2 years ago about an Iraq War protest, I like the story because it's part Iraq war protest and part me talking to an Iraq war veteran in depth. I shot an amazing stand up that placed me at the scene of the protest. That stand up was taped over - by another student. I don't know what kind of stand up could possibly work for this resume tape story... Any ideas? Anyone?

-The Grape said...

Take your b-roll of the protest, feed it into a studio monitor, and do your standup standing next to it. The key is, the standup must separate the two parts of the story.