The Importance of Being Empathetic: A good UX designer will empathize with the users, and will also build communication tools such as personas to build empathy within a team. Likewise, in the film world, your actors need to empathize with their character to make it come alive. If the actor can’t understand what is motivating your character, then it’s just not going to happen. And it is up to the director to recognize when this is happening or not, then guide and nudge it into being.
Showing vs. telling: It was amazing to see how many words we could condense down to a few seconds of video, especially things we wrote in as part of the environment or context rather than dialog. There’s a lot of truth in the old writing adage of showing vs. telling, and the seeing it as it plays out in real life can be more powerful than reading about dry details.
Ruthlessly edit: Always keep asking yourself, “Does this add to the story or experience?” If not, and even if you personally LOVE it, take a deep breath, close your eyes and hit delete. This is true for visual art, fiction writing, film and yes, even product development.
Know your tools: We borrowed a video camera and didn’t have time to get acquainted with it before the shoot. Unfortunately, this meant we didn’t know how to work it very well or know its limitations. Because we didn’t want to spend our valuable shooting time learning the equipment, we just held our breath and hoped for the best as we zoomed and panned around. This also meant we couldn’t/didn’t review what we shot on the fly, and couldn’t adjust for when an awkward shadow was cast or the actors talked to the floor. Which brings me to…
Add a “review time” into the plan: In the design world, you always want to keep tabs on the individual elements that will eventually need to come together. The Creative Director or Producer checks in with all of the contributors (Interaction Designer, Visual Designer, Content Strategist etc) to make sure they, and all of their deliverables, are aligning. In film, it’s also important to see if the end result (the take) matches what you envisioned (the script/storyboards). It’s important to review your work as it’s in progress so you can reshoot or retool anything that isn’t working.
Always do a little extra: If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, there’s a really great word: lagniappe. The English equivalent is a baker’s dozen, but that doesn’t quite capture the “throw a little in for good measure”-ness of the word. In design, it always pays to take more than you think you’ll need and likewise in film—whether it’s more than one design concept, the extra set of photos snapped, or filming more than one take, chances are likely you’ll have overlooked something or someone will want to have some options available. Just spend the additional few minutes of time and take the extra. Save yourself the heartache of disappointing someone or having to reshoot again from scratch.