How we begin the process of telling your story

Clients come to Stonecastle Pictures at various stages in the story development process. Some, like ad agencies, have a very clear idea of the video or commercial they want to film and just need a production partner to execute their vision. Others have a rough idea sketched on the back of a napkin but want help building out a story that translates well to video. And still others come to us with nothing more than a marketing objective – like building awareness or engaging donors – and ask us to develop and produce a video or campaign that will get the job done.

Depending on where you fall in this continuum, our process may look a little different, but generally speaking, here are the steps we take once we begin our relationship with you.

Step 1. Establish a game plan

If you haven’t worked on a video production before, you may be surprised at how much work goes into planning before the cameras come out. There are milestones to establish, schedules to work out, budgets to meet – way more time in Excel than any creative enjoys. But it’s this detail work, guided by a dedicated producer, that ensures a smooth production with no surprises.

At Stonecastle, we believe our most valuable service is taking the worry and anxiety out of the creative process. We know all the questions to ask and all the pitfalls to avoid so you don’t have to.

We joke that our clients get more than outstanding video content. They also get all those extra hours of sleep NOT freaking out in the middle of the night about their video. As Katie Richards, our partner at Siloam Health told us, “I really can just trust that Stonecastle is going to make something great and tell our story with the same level of integrity and quality that I would want if I could do it myself.”

The key to a smooth production begins at the kick-off meeting, where we seek input from you as we lay out a road map for the entire project. It’s a part brainstorming/part planning session to discuss things like:

  1. Milestones. For shoot days, editing days, and final delivery
  2. Big-picture concepts. Sometimes we show examples to get the creative juices flowing
  3. Messaging. Nailing down what success will look like for you. What is the reason behind making this video? What do you want people to feel and do after watching it?

the creative team at stonecastle in their nashville office

Step 2. Release the creatives!

After digesting this information, our creative team rolls up their sleeves to begin assembling a story framework. We’re basically squinting our eyes to see through all the data in order to lock onto an idea that moves us emotionally. As experts in classic storytelling forms, this is where we start plugging in elements we’ve learned about you into traditional narrative formulas. It can be a magical thing: where a string of facts are arranged and organized in a way that, when captured on film, can move audiences to action.

Often, this process sends us back for more information. This exploratory phase is where we put on our reporter’s hat and dig, dig, dig. As former journalists and documentary filmmakers, we’re constantly asking ourselves: Does this approach feel true? Believable? Is it consistent with the brand’s promises? These questions sometimes lead to little discoveries – a fact, a detail – that open up entirely new creative possibilities.

Finally, after this left brain/right brain tug-of-war, we emerge with a creative treatment that we’ll present to you as our official plan heading into production. Depending on the nature of your project, it may be a storyboard, a mood board, or a script. Whatever form it takes, the purpose is to give you a clear picture how the director and the rest of the creative team envision the final look and feel of your video.

stonecastle video production crew sets up an interview in nashville

Step 3. Begin pre-production

There is still one more step to go before filming begins, but it’s critical. With the treatment in hand, our producing team gets to work putting all the logistics together for the shoot. This means securing permits, hiring crews, tech scouting locations, and answering any questions you may have about the production.

Over the years, we’ve filmed in deserts, hospitals, prisons, on boats, in planes, and in countries around the world. It’s an exciting adventure, and it’s different every time. While these projects can get complex, we’ve built a team with the chops to handle the details so you can enjoy the process bringing your story to life without the headaches.

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