It takes a lot of work to craft a :30 second story (which is really a :27 story once you allow for the :03 logo at the end). To make it compelling, entertaining and informative is far from easy.

As a creative director, I’ve had to tell many writers that their scripts were too long.

And as a writer, I’ve been told many times that my scripts were too long.

In every case, I take out my trusty iPhone and use the stopwatch to time it out. Sometimes, the script really is too long. Other times, the words fit—IF you read them really fast without taking a breath.

Now, every writer knows that a good engineer can take out a breath or two, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. (See voice actor Bob Bergen’s thoughts on that here.)

On their own, words in a script can fall flat. It takes an actor’s performance to bring them to life—and to do your words justice, they need a little room to breathe.

Whether it’s a side glance between two people in a TV spot or a dramatic pause in radio, these subtleties take precious seconds. And if your script is wall-to-wall copy going in, you’ll end up having to cut words in the studio or on the set.

One of my favorite campaigns that I’ve been a part of was for Today’s Military. The scripts were so short they could have been for :15 second spots. But we under-wrote them on purpose, counting on the silent moments: the thoughtful pauses, the sighs, the sound of the rain beating on the roof of the car, to say more than any words could.

So be hard on your scripts, cut copy when you can and make sure the words you use are working hard. And again, just because you have :30 seconds doesn’t mean you should fill them all with words.



Agency: MullenLowe, CCO: Edward Boches, Creative Director: Michael Ancevic, Creative Director: Steve Mietelski, Writer: Alison Hammer, Producer: Jennifer McKenzie, Director: Joe Pytka




About thishammer

Alison Hammer is an advertising writer/Creative Director and an author currently seeking agent representation. She has lived in 9 cities, studied at 2 universities and 1 “Circus”, worked at 8 ad agencies, sailed on The Rock Boat 15 times and watched over 120 Gator football games (including 2 national championships). She loves words and the challenge of bringing them together to inspire, to sell products and make people feel something. She has experience writing in every medium for clients ranging from telecom and retail to the Military and hotels.
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