THE WHOLE STORY
The project begins by meeting with the attorney and client to make sure we are on the same page as to goals and objectives. Most production details are hammered out when we draft the contract, but it never hurts to double-check. After that is done, we focus on working with my crew in developing a production schedule at which time we review the workflow/process.
Once we have committed to create a sentencing video, we meet with the attorney and the defendant to go over the details of the case. We listen carefully to the mitigating circumstances that led up to offense and to exactly what the defendant was thinking when he/she committed the crime.
Since every situation is different, we make sure that we understand every detail so that when we tell the story, it is presented to the judge in an honest and truthful manner.
Narcotics, alcohol, domestic abuse, and psychological imbalances are often the catalysts of the defendant committing the crime for which they are being sentenced. In these particular cases, we try to show how the actions that the defendant took were outside of their character and that they would normally never commit an such an immoral act.
The critical step here is to ensure clear communication in all directions -- to make sure the client, as well as the team, knows what to expect and when to expect it. It’s important to spell out who’s doing what, which days we’re filming, the hours required on-site, and any contingencies such as possible need for a back-up location or substitute interviewee. Clear communication is essential for staying on deadline and on budget.
Since the interviews are the most critical part of a sentencing video, we make sure that the answers come off feeling natural and unscripted. This means working very closely with each person being interviewed. We make sure that they feel that we care about them and that there is absolutely no judgement about the defendant. The testimony we need in order to weave a coherent, honest and moving story must be genuine and believable.
In addition, every topic needs to be addressed. Depending on who we are interviewing, such as the defendant, this can include subjects about their past, what caused them to commit the offense, what they would do now that is different, whether they are remorseful, were drugs involved, and many other factors that are crucial to the story. Community leaders, employers, friends, neighbors and families are just as important as they can attest to how important it is to have their loved one around, For financial support, for the love they give and for endless other reasons.
Other elements that are critical to a successful sentencing video includes B-roll (Images that can help define the defendants character):
Pictures of the defendant at work, assisting others, community services, raising children, military, social events, attending church, etc.
Such as teaching music to students, caring for the elderly, Footage that tells a defendants day-in-the-life story, donating their time at community events, acts of good deeds, etc.
Important certificates like high school, community college or university diplomas, NA achievements
While these assets are especially helpful in the editing bay, there is still much more that is needed to creating a sentencing video. Securing budgets for all phases of the project including retainers or down payments, crews, designating who on the client side is going to use as their interviewees, getting necessary approvals, permits, and resources, and assigning tasks within the organization. At Complete Picture, we are an adaptive company and experts at knowing when to put together a small or a large team for the benefit of the client and the budget we have to work with.