Creative book-building: How to create 17 video vignettes in one day

Last year during the Man Booker Prize run-up, the Booker publicity group came up with the great idea of creating Vines for each of the shortlisted finalists, and encouraging others to do the same. So I thought, why not? Never mind that there are only six titles on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize, while we have 16 finalists, and three best first books… luckily two of the best first books are also on the finalist list.

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The view at the beginning of our day, Friday 11 July

While what we ended up creating were a bit long for Vines as it turned out, but this is how we created them:

Step One: 
Decide how you want to use your footage, as this will inform your materials. We ended up deciding that because we will be using our video clips as illustrations for the finalists as they are announced at the ceremony, we would heed a professional photographer to create them on a hi-def camera. We also needed a cohesive plan for how to approach each book, from somebody a lot more creative than us. Which brings me to Step Two!IMG_0821

Step Two:
Come up with some great ideas. We had as our art director, Leon Mackie (right, in director mode). Leon and his wife (our former Awards Executive, Lilly Mackie) came up with the ideas over a glass of wine, and sent them through to us. This is their track record – we knew we were in safe hands.

Step Three:
Source anything extra you need for the shoot. In our case, there wasn’t a lot – but we did need some sound effects. Amie and I spent a fantastic morning on SoundFX.com finding the appropriate sound effects – our most tentative search was for the sound of a man grunting, our most difficult was for some WW1 sound effects.

Step Four:
Early on in the piece we asked Mark Tantrum, our event photographer, to be part of this process, and he came in and shot all of the videos for us, rather awesomely. He acted as our Director of Photography, with his assistant Elias Rodriguez as his Best Boy!

From here, we convened on Friday 11 July to shoot our videos. Our only props were black backdrops, a gavel and one book display aid. We had LED lights of various sizes and a couple of fancy camera accessories to help with the effects – we also used a handy stack of Women’s Day magazines to get the height correct. Leon’s concepts worked with the books themselves, in stacks, groups, sculptures and patterns.
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Occasionally, we had a moment of panic, like when our Totara fell after just one (luckily successful) shoot.

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And when the original concept of ripping a books’ cover was agreed to be a little bit too damaging, we had to come up with something different.

Books as horses legs are difficult to get right.

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But Leon’s dog was spot on.

And his Twiss sculpture was fantastic.

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And we got the History of Silence perfectly quiet.

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We will be carrying on rolling out these clips throughout the promotion period for the People’s Choice Award. For the full finalist list please head through here, for resources for publishers and booksellers here, and for the media kit, here is where you need to go.

Please don’t forget you don’t have to vote for a finalist or one of the bestsellers’ pictured – as long as the book was published in New Zealand from 1 June 2013 – 31 May 2014, it is eligible to win the People’s Choice Award.

By Sarah Forster

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