Anatomy of a Promo – Part 2 of 3: Creating the Promo
Most SAFTAcast promos begin the same way: I remember I have to make a promo and then panic, scramble to do it.
Well, not exactly. Promos can be tricky and inspiration strikes when it strikes. I may have a promo in mind the day after an episode goes live, or I’ll get an idea when I’m in my car going to the store, or the day before it needs to go up on the site.
That was the case with “King Prom the First” [for Episode #53 – Sarah Ann Winn]. I had been mulling over some ideas, but none of them felt right. Either the concept wasn’t interesting enough, or the core premise was flimsy, or the idea wasn’t fully formed. The day before it was scheduled to go live though, I caught a break over my morning coffee:
Promo. Promo. What to do.
Well, it’s graduation season. Maybe commencement speech? Nah, did that last year.
Could make it a yearly thing; record a new commencement speech each May.
It’s also prom season.
Hmmm. Proms. Proms. What are some things about proms?
[Creates internal word bubble list connecting to the word “prom”: juniors, seniors, music, dancing, dating, formal wear, “promposals,” my own prom, limos, kings and queens, etc.]
Hmmm. Prom king. What does a prom king do? Just stand on a stage? Lead a dance? Make a speech? A proclamation? Wait, do prom kings issue edicts?
Idea! What if I was chosen as prom king – and took it literally? What if made a decree?
Hmmm. What would I declare?
“No more pants!”? Eh. Funny, but kind of simple. And doesn’t work for audio.
[Thinks back to previous Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones]
Wait. Kings wage war. What if I called for a war?
Ooh! But who to fight? Another prom? Another school?
No, kind of did that last fall with “Homecoming/Good Boys.”
[Takes a sip of coffee]
Ok. I got it. Premise: I am made prom king and make the class go to war against a random group over something.
Once the basic premise is in place, the next step writing a script.
I use “script” in the loosest sense of the word. They’re more like sketches of an idea used to help flesh the details, determine how complex the promo will be, what music and sound cues I might need, etc. For “King Prom the First,” this meant deciding the scene would be my own senior prom (1997, Traditions at the Glen, Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight”) and the story would be a combination of en media res and flashback.
The scripts also don’t follow any specific format. In the above image, there’s no bold nor italics, nor indication of timing like “intro 3s.” [Meaning: “The intro here is three seconds long.”] The only quasi-standard thing I did was double-spaced one section to make it easier to read when I recorded.
Once the script is written up, I collect the sound effects (SFX) and music cues into a temporary folder for easy access. At this point, though, the promo is still nothing more than an idea. The next step is making it real, which I’ll go in depth about on Saturday.