I bet your church thinks that promotional videos are something that goes with a large, expensive fundraising campaign. While that is often true, it can be done cheaply. You just need to know who and what to ask.

The Interviews

Find some people who like your church or school. You probably already know who they are. Then ask them to answer some questions about their experiences. Give them the list ahead of time so they can think about it. I used a seated subject in my videos because it seems more intimate, but standing can probably work, too. Try not to have too many moving parts. One person can write and ask the questions (off camera) and one person can run the camera. Maybe one more person for editing. If you want to hire a whole team, go ahead and see what they'd cost.

The Camera

Use a good quality camera, with a lot of lighting and probably an external mic. Don't have people hold a mic like they're in some kind of high school round table discussion. You might need to move the camera so that it seems uncomfortably close, but you'll want a medium shot of the subjects and enough sound so that viewers can actually hear the speakers. Generally, this is not a job for your iphone, but all kinds of people have good digital SLRs or video cameras that provide HD video. I have a Canon 60D, which is probably similar to the Canon EOS 70D. My mic is similar to this one: Movo VXR300 HD. I also used a Neewer Inner Ring Light for extra lighting. This is all consumer/prosumer stuff, and the camera itself can be much cheaper. In fact, I did close ups and a backup video with my PANASONIC LUMIX FZ80, which would have provided more than adequate video (but maybe not audio). You'll also need a tripod, unless you think viewers want that trendy, jerky motion in their testimonial videos.

Then you set up the shot, start recording, and leave it going. I would avoid the subject looking right into the camera. Shoot it like an over the shoulder conversation shot, with the subject looking at a real or imaginary interviewer.

The Editing

The editing can take FOREVER, and it's the main reason people don't want to deal with making their own videos. You might even need to convert your original video in order to use it in some editors, which is a total pain, and something that probably stops many video editors before they get started. I have found that Lightworks can do the job, but certain parts of the program are awful, especially if you make a mistake in title length at the start and have to adjust the whole sequence (which I did, of course). The free version of Lightworks gets you 720p for Youtube, which is probably good enough most of the time. I will upgrade to paid when I get my first paid editing gig. Be sure that whatever editing software you use allows export without watermarks, and that you can own the file. I've used some cool online editors that make you host the videos on the site or give you a tiny file that looks horrible on Youtube, and that's really where you want to be.

What I did was send the uncut video to the decision-makers. They gave me the times where the video should be edited and the ordering for the clips. I could have done it myself, but they knew what they wanted to get across, and it would have been frustrating to get it all wrong and do it again. I was able to cut the video quickly when I knew timing ahead, and then I could make small cuts later. Lightworks allows you you to see original timecodes even as you move the clips around, and that's useful. Honestly, though, I've done some decent work even on Windows Movie Maker, so it's just doing it that matters.

Of course, adding stock video of the facilities or people would add to the complexity, and the example here is of a testimonial video. One place and one sequence to deal with. Could I add other video clips? Yes. Would it be more effective? Perhaps. But this is a single, targeted video. You can always hire out for something more magnificent.

The Results

This final video is good. Yes, it could be 1080p with a paid editing suite. Yes, it could have those close-ups. But the video, lighting, and sound are all as good as you'll see with the pros. Sure, if you're in Florida or Southern Georgia, you could hire me (I'm in Jacksonville), but if you know who to ask and give them a strict deadline, it a video like this can be completed in a few days. Two minutes down from about ten minutes.