I have always been a storyteller, and I have always felt that writing was the best way I could tell a story. Over the years, I’ve found that I can write in a few different ways: feature articles, personal essays, even technical writing.
Through my work at Probe Media Foundation, I learned that I was pretty good at telling stories through public speaking and workshops too. More than a few times I was called upon to speak at conferences and events, telling the stories of young people, women, girls. Through my work at Unilab Foundation, I learned to talk about Persons with Disability too. Though the mere thought of public speaking always gave me anxiety, many people told me I was good at it.
For years though, there was one thing I always said I couldn’t write: scripts. I never learned, and to be honest it didn’t really interest me. I had no desire to work in film or TV. I wasn’t really interested in video production. But I suppose it was inevitable.
At MP-KNN, we had to teach our youth reporters how to write scripts. We did paper-edits: you start with a script, and you literally just edit that, using a highlighter or a strikethrough function to indicate what part to edit out, so that the video editing is much faster and more efficient. I never learned to write or edit scripts, or edit videos, but I did learn paper edits, thanks to colleagues like Hanna, Riza, Guill, Rocel, Hobe and Kuya Jan.
At Mantle, I still wasn’t writing scripts, but I did have to be a little more hands on with the video production. We had an excellent team in Brian and Josh, and to be honest I didn’t have to work very hard to tell them what to do.
I was lucky to work with Brian, because he knew what he was doing, and we often agreed on what looked good. “Brian, alam mo na no?” I would ask, and he would nod and grin as he walked off in the opposite direction. Brian would tell Josh what to shoot, what angles to get. I often only had to tell them if I had an interview, if I wanted a particular shot. Sometimes as I was telling them, they were nodding because they could already see it.
Often I caught Brian looking at the camera, reviewing his footage, and I knew he was already editing in his head. Sometimes I just had to give him a vague flow of how I wanted the edited video to look, and a deadline. By the time I saw a draft, there was very little to do: maybe less of that, more of this, please crop out that weird bit.
I didn’t learn to write scripts, but I think I got a better sense of how to tell stories visually, and how to bring together various elements to tell a powerful story. I think it was this sense of visual storytelling that really helped me work on this:
I was lucky to work with Dr. Karina, who is an anesthesiologist with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres, and an amazing storyteller. I was listening to her as she gave a talk to some university students, and like the rest of the audience, I was stunned when she played some audio recordings of air strikes and tanks rolling on the streets of Aden, Yemen, where she had worked as a surgeon and anesthesiologist.
With Dr. Karina’s story, using pictures from our database and her audio recordings, I was able to work on this video. I interviewed her via a video call, and I wrote my first script. I worked with an amazing video editor (Hi Hobe!), and we got great support and feedback from our comms team. With all our combined effort, we ended up with not one, but two videos!
I love learning and trying new things, and I’m so lucky to work with amazing people who teach me and give me opportunities to explore. I’m so happy to say that I finally know how to write scripts. I won’t be winning any awards for screenwriting anytime soon, but I think I’ve finally learned a new way to tell the stories I care about, and I’m really excited about doing it all again. Just wait!