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Developing a Story on the Fly

Lesson 24 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

Developing a Story on the Fly

Lesson 24 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

24. Developing a Story on the Fly


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

Developing a Story on the Fly

So sometimes you might do a session where you didn't have a lot of questionnaire stuff going on. I can sometimes be complacent when I'm doing a repeat client and not do another questionnaire for the second time I've done their, the next year. And so I haven't done a questionnaire, because I'm like, I know those people. But you still, things are different. It's a year later, you still need to ask questions. And so this is a good example of developing story on the fly, and the very, even the first time I did their session, the very first session that I did for them. I learned a lot, there wasn't, they were one of the first families actually that I even filmed, and I learned a lot from them during the session rather than before hand, okay? There's a lot to developing story on the fly. It's adding on to the layers of the information that you already know, but you have to balance that interaction with filming, because when you're having a conversation, your audio is gonna be in the footage,...

right? So if you're filming while you're talking, then that's probably not usable in an audio sense. So it's important to kinda know, and it gets better with confidence and experience to know that you've gotten the shots that you need, and you can take a break and just chat to the clients. But it's really important to balance the interaction with the filming so you don't always have a camera up in your face. Take a moment to have a conversation with the people. It's okay to talk to them and ask them questions, and build onto with the stuff that you already know. So they might have answered some of the questions before about their child and say, okay tell me when that kind of thing happens. When do they usually do that, and when was the first time that you noticed them doing that. Just build and build. It's layers. It's adding more information. You get a base set and then you ask more questions based on the answers that you already know. So with this client they have this beautiful, beautiful back yard, and there's this beautiful mango tree, and it turns out that somebody in their family had passed away and was buried under the mango tree. And I was like, well that's fascinating. The mango tree kind of plays a part, in a lot of the stuff that I do, because I'm like, oh well then now it's a little bit more significant. I find out that, well the dad is a pilot, and he spends a lot of his time tending their garden, and the garden is hugely important to them as a family, and so I spend a lot of time focusing the B roll on like the things that he's planted kind of making you feel like you're there, again through that. And one of the, I know that the mom I had been speaking to her. She hadn't answered this in a questionnaire, but just through conversation with her, we talked about her little boys hair, and how she hadn't cut it, and how she didn't want to cut it, and all of that. And I knew that it was really special to her. And so I wanted to make sure that I was capturing details of his hair blowing in the wind because it's probably gonna get cut at some point and so if I can give that to her, she's gonna love it. So, I'll play this. (bright content music) (child babbling) (male laughter) (bright content music) (soft voice murmuring and reading) (bright content music) Oh look he's giving you a big smile. (little boy laughs) (bright content music) (whispering voices) (baby fusses) Thank you. (bright content music) (baby fusses) (bright content music) (toddler murmurs) (bright content music) I draw this picture of you mommy. Ah thank you And then the nose (bright content music) So there was a lot of stuff that I didn't know about in the lead up to that, like the ducks. I didn't know, and they were pretty important and learning about them I knew that she wanted to include that he loved feeding them. So I wanted to include a clip of him feeding them. The backyard was super important. Her reading with him. That was something that she was doing with the newborn. And just that interaction between her and I think she was feeling really like, having a newborn and spending less time with him, and so it's just reading, reading between the lines, right? I think that's so important. Asking questions while you're having a conversation with people. Reading between the lines and getting an understanding of the meaningful things. What are they actually saying, by the things that they are telling you? That song was Remember Us by The Likes of Us. Licensed through MUSICBED.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work