Coronavirus has meant that filming, as we know it, has had to stop. Whilst some filming has now resumed, social distancing rules means that the whole approach to filming has changed and many people who we would normally film telling their story are too vulnerable to risk physically shooting projects.

Fear not! You can still create emotive, story-telling short charity films, all on a small charity budget.

1. TAKE A STEP BACK – So often we have seen charities decide to make a short film to gain support but they don’t do the research needed to make sure that it is relevant to their cause and supporters. Pick up the phone and have a conversation with the people that are most passionate about your work and ask them why – what moves them. These conversations will give you a strong basis to build your film around.

2. HOW AND WHO CAN CREATE FOOTAGE – Decide who is connected to your cause that has an emotive story and can capture their story on their smartphone or via zoom. This doesn’t neccesarily have to be a beneficiary, it can be a family member, a volunteer, a trustee or a front line worker.
We would recommend having a short list of 3 and asking them to send over a 30 second video about your cause before you invest the time in coaching them to get more footage. Can’t decide whose story to tell? Have a look at our blog for some handy tips.

3. TIME TO GET TECHNICAL – Speak to the people who are filming and explain exactly what the film is for, what messages you want to communicate, what footage would be perfect and how technically they should film.
We have a guide on how to film on your smartphone that we send out to people here. Show them examples of the style of films that you like and be very clear about what you need.


  • Be clear about what you want and make sure that they understand the techincal requirements to ensure high quality footage.
  • Explain how much of a difference their help is going to make and keep saying thank you 🙂
  • Ask for them to send over a few bits of footage for you to have a look at before they film loads of it. Give feedback on what you like and what you don’t.
  • Make sure that they get lots of ‘natural footage’ that really captures their story – changing a feeding tube, making a cup of tea, playing with toys etc. These bits of footage are great for building a relationship with the viewer.
  • Ask them to look through their old footage, family videos etc and send over to give more of an indepth feel.
  • If they need to talk to the camera, ask them to talk naturally rather than write down what they want to say or record you asking the questions via Zoom.
    A great tip is for you to come up with the questions and ask a family member or friend to ask them whilst filming it. This will give a more natural feel and they are likely to be more relaxed.
  • When they are sending over footage, send it via email, Dropbox, WeTransfer etc rather than text as this compresses the quality.

5. HOW TO DO THE EDITING – Now that you have the footage, watch it all in the context of the key messaging that you have already identified will resonate most with your supporters. Build a story around that message, using text screens if needed to emphasise or guide the viewer along the journey.
There are some great free editing tools such as OpenShot and Shotcut that you can learn how to use by watching YouTube videos. If you feel you need someone with more experience to help, there are some fantastic freelancers that you can connect with using sites such as PeoplePerHour or by doing a shout out on Facebook groups such as Third Sector PR & Comms Group. The Saltways works with a network of incredibly talented editors and we would be very happy to recommend someone to match your budget and needs.

6. BUILD THE CAMPAIGN – Now that you have your emotive film, build your campaign around it. Post on social media, embed into an appeal email and ask your close supporters to share. Don’t forget to thank the amazing people who have helped and feed back to them the difference that it has made.

For a free, informal chat about your next video project and how we can help to maximise results, email or contact us here.

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