How To Create A Video Ad From Start To Finish

I love making book trailers. This was our first book, the MARA DYER BOOK AD. (It’s a bit graphic, so don’t watch it if you are sensitive.) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a supersuccessful book published by Simon & Schuster. We produced this new trailer for an Amazon book called The Gilboa Iris.  The reason I love book ads is because they’re all about telling stories, literally.

Today I want to walk you through the process of how a film is made, what pitfalls to pay attention to, and how the outcome can be different than you originally conceived of it, and how that can sometimes be a good thing.

Crafting The Film

Once we agree on what type of film or campaign we are creating, the next step is pre-production.  This is where we define the exact story, we write the script, and the client helps us get into the mindset of THEIR audience. In the end, we don’t make the films for ourselves, or even the client, but rather for our client’s audience. Because the people we are ultimately looking to move is the client’s audience.

We look at what the video is supposed to achieve, and the psychological triggers that make the audience act upon our client’s message.  Then we reverse-engineer it, beginning with the end in mind.

When we have all of the ins and outs together, we produce the film based on all that we have defined in the script and the storyboard. We deliver a storyboard to our clients so that they get an idea of the kind of film we are creating. This is all done in a close partnership with the client. I want them to know in advance what kind of film we are producing. The reason we make storyboards is, we want our clients to know as best as possible what the story will look and feel like in the end.

The Challenge of A Shared Vision 

Now, how we do STORYBOARDS is a crucial thing. Even though it’s a great tool for pre-visualizating a story, it still needs to be put together in our own imagination. And here is the tricky part. Everyone translates what we see or read into their own different images, pace, feelings, atmosphere, what they think the actors will look like, etc.

When we deliver our first edited draft of the video, this might not be the exact thing yet that the client saw in their mind when we walked them through the script and the storyboard.

First Edit Is Not Last Edit

I show you, below, an example of a first cut; that of the Gilboa Iris book trailer.  When the client saw this, she was surprised, because in her mind she expected something different than what I, as the director, saw when I conceived it. This can be a frightening experience for a client, especially if they’ve never worked with video producers before.

The 1st Edit Of The Film (Click on the image to play)

Feedback & Good Communication

When I send a client the first draft of the video I’m putting together for them, the most important thing is that I listen to their feedback, their first impressions, things they like and things they would like to do differently. I always expect changes to be made, no matter how close to, or far we are, from the client’s vision and taste.

In this case I think the author was surprised that I had pushed the trailer to such an edgy direction.  I have to admit, I love it and I think edgy stuff works with audiences the best,  because only what gets noticed gets bought. But it’s not about me, right?  I think she was, at that moment, quite worried that the film wouldn’t work out and that all her investment would be gone.

The reason  I write here about it because I always strive to put myself in someone else’s shoes, and I wish I would have had this post here when we worked together, because it would have lowered her anxiety.  This process is so common in our industry.

The Final Edit Of The Film (Click on the image to play)

Now watch the final version above with the input that the client gave.

We discussed the trailer’s story, and pored over every second of the film.  We decided what was the best compromise between our two points of view, without losing the ultimate integrity of the trailer, and while still achieving the goal of reaching the right audience and getting copies of the book sold.  I implemented the changes we discussed, and then sent the revised version back to her.

I think from there on, she saw that the first draft is, in fact, a first draft, and can be pushed in any direction. I think that’s the beauty of film and video editing.

A Lesson To Take Away

We are all different people, and it’s sometimes a challenge to be on the same page. I’ve learned that succeeding in the film and video world is not just about having good concepts and making great products; it’s really about the communication that happens along the way.  My father-in-law says, “The quality of your communication is the quality of your life.”  We want to do business with people we trust, and open communication is the only way to get that.

What has been your experience in producing videos for your brand, org or business?

If you want to give the book a look, here it is on Amazon:


10 Responses to "How To Create A Video Ad From Start To Finish"

  1. Video Guy says:

    The first draft was G-d awful and the second one is barely better and you call yourself a videographer?!?

  2. Neil Kummer says:

    That was a harsh commentary! There were an awful lot of over-used evocative images. Because they go by so quickly and have been used so many times, I did not find time or motivation to “invest” in any of them. Well-used “amazing” images might require a bit of time to give them individual character. I did love your promotion for the summer camp! To promote a book, i would rather see an interview with the author…seems a risky proposition to use a cinematic style video to promote a book. Reading a book is for people who don’t have ADD, especially of the kind created by quick-sequence videos.

  3. Fran says:

    I think the final edit was great because I understood what the story was about. It made me want to read this book and I think I will! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Shmuel Hoffman says:

    Hey guys,

    thanks for your open feedback. I really appreciate it.
    Video guy. I can absolutely see why you hate it.
    I’m not sure who you are (age, gender, social status etc.) but the target audience that this was for is a young crowd that actually are used to fast stuff. Neil. Actually those type of trailer work very well. We did a similar ad for a S&S book and it helped to push it very hard in sales. The thing with the author interviews is been used and works at places. A book trailer that is using the language of a film trailer is less common and therefore stands out. Just my 2 cents 🙂

  5. gerry yampolsky says:

    Nice trailer
    As a scriptwriter, I appreciate the hard work you put into this. Would love to collaborate, give me a call at 0544519679. You can see some of the videos Ive written and produced on Linked In.

  6. Gedaliah says:

    Amazing work. With all the books on the shelf and only the top known authors to choose from in a safe way, this is a great way to have ADD and be enticed to buy a book from an unknown author.

    If the purpose of this video was to show the book to be edgy, exciting, mysterious and intriguing, you hit the nail on its head.

    As a marketing person, I can say without a doubt, this was a job well done.

  7. Shmuel Hoffman says:

    Gerry & Gedaliah.

    Thanks so much for your comments. Really appreciate it.

  8. Ra'anan says:

    VideoGuy, I would have liked to have read your specific critiques. The 2nd clip gave me goosebumps at certain points. I like the Israeli soldier, Arab finjun contrast shots along w/the questions & the tension that builds. It did feel somewhat softer in some other places, but I’d have to go over it frame by frame to identify weaknesses.

  9. Rune says:

    Great post ,and great video.Thanks 🙂

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