In our highly visual, digital world of photography and film, in one sense becoming competent in these areas has never been easier. In another sense it can be quite intimidating and discouraging if you’re not sure how you can even engage. Sometimes the creativity and talent of others can shut us down because, via the tyranny of comparison, we assume that we can never produce something quite as good.

Please don’t be discouraged! With a little creative and strategic thought and time, you can easily start to make some engaging film content for your church to live on YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo or wherever you like! For some basic technical tips after this post, you also might like to read Making Church Videos on a Budget.

1. Keep it Short, Simple and Be Precise

This is worth saying because of the temptation to try and produce something that you’ve just seen on prime-time TV. Rather than trying to make your first few videos all-singing and all-dancing, write down your basic reason for wanting to make some film content. This is just a little bit of strategy to help you to be more exact. Is the piece for sharing information? Is it to inspire people? Is it for believers or unbelievers? Maybe it’s a promo piece for a specific event or teaching series? Writing down your plan will help you to be more precise in deciding what you’ll need to do to produce your YouTube content.

Oh, and less is definitely more when it comes to church video content. Viewers simply won’t watch for more than a couple of minutes, so decide that in advance of whatever you shoot/edit/broadcast.

2. Develop Your Library

Once you’ve written down what you would like to achieve in forthcoming projects, and how you would like to achieve it (the ‘why?’ and the ‘how?’), start to capture footage that you can use to build your ‘stock library.’ Of course, there will be specific footage that you’ll need to capture for each project but it’s also good to have a growing general library that you can draw on for other projects. Perhaps you could film some live events to capture times of worship and prayer? Perhaps there’s a community event coming up that you could also film at for general shots or even conduct snap interviews.

3. Storyboard

One important key to producing good films is to have a storyboard process. This essentially means deciding and defining in advance what scenes you would like to make-up your completed production so that you know what to go ahead and shoot. I can say from experience that this is the process that will make your actual filming experience more relaxed and enjoyable because you will already know what you need to!

Storyboards can be a series of actual drawings for precise scene detail (some people are awesome illustrators who can do this – I am not!) or they can be simple, sketch diagrams giving a more general impression or they can simply be a numerical list of scenes that you see in your mind’s eye. The thoroughness of a storyboard will depend on the complexity of what you’re wanting to film and how you think and conceive things as an individual.

4. Film Yourself – VLOG

A friend of mine who leads a large church in Edinburgh recently published his first VLOG. All he did was to very basically record himself while sat in his study, at his desk, giving an update on some key church events coming up. The quality of the film production wasn’t world-class but it was an effective and creative way of communicating in film form rather than only going through the motions up front on Sunday morning. Sometimes the best films are made when you pull your smart phone out of your pocket, (or your DSLR out of your bag), be brave and just give VLOGGING a go.

If you’re a pastor or church leader, why not start thinking about how VLOGGING like this might bring a new dimension to your communication style and how people engage with the life of your church? As you become more confident and competent in composition and editing, and communicating in effectives sound bites, you’ll start to develop your own style. Who knows where it might lead.

5. Church News

It could be that you’re wanting to update the feel of your Sunday services. A good way of doing this is to encourage some of the younger people in your church (who will often have all the skills you need in this area) and ask them to consider putting some church news videos together. They would have to think about the style of video, the content for it as well as the audience that it is intended to reach. (This can be part of your storyboarding). Communicating church news through videos like this is often a good way of making notices fun and engaging and, importantly, memorable! Although the younger generations might have more skill and social media awareness than some of your older members, encourage a mixture of the life of the church to get involved! This will give a healthier impression of your church rather than the misconception that film and digital media generally are just a ‘young person’s thing’.

Please do drop me a line if I can be of any more help.

Give it a go!

Nick Franks is a freelance digital leader living in resplendent Edinburgh, Scotland. Learning to love as he should, Nick is engrossed in living a contagious lifestyle of worship and prayer. He sweats under his eyes when he eats too much cheese, adores Liverpool FC and has a strong preference for Earl Grey leaf tea. Nick is married to the beautiful Mairi. Consider contacting Nick at www.nicholasfranks.com for any of your media-related projects in photography, writing and film. 

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