I just produced my very first political satire video for my website liberalbias.com! For anyone interested, I thought I would blog a little bit about what this experience was like, and my 4 big “lessons learned” from the experience.
First, if you haven’t checked it out already, please watch the video. It’s only 3 minutes and 38 seconds, and you might even think it’s funny. If you are inclined, I’d also love it if you subscribed to the Liberal Bias Video channel and “like” the video and all of that friendly social media validation stuff.
You can go to the video on Youtube with this direct link: http://youtu.be/AabyzSu93Ss
Now that you’ve watched the video, I’ll tell you a little bit about how this thing came into being, and the four big lessons that I learned along the way.
LESSON 1: The best satire is based on stuff that people really say
I’d been on the lookout for ideas for a political satire video every since Jon gave me my HD video camera for Christmas.
Some time in March, I was driving home from the gym and listening to Sean Hannity on the radio. He was being petulant and whiny. He was talking about how unfair it was that liberals have been so successful to painting this image in the public eye of Republicans as sexist, racist, bigoted people. Golly, gee. Those awful, crafty liberals have somehow manipulated public opinion to make Republicans seem reactionary, prejudiced, and out of touch!
It was a true “WTF” moment, and I almost couldn’t believe he was really saying this; even worse, I was horrified to think that there were people listening who probably thought: “Sure, that sounds right”.
Then, the snarky little voice in my head said: “Well, if the liberals are manipulating Republicans into being sexist, racist bigots, then obviously the only way to be a true pure conservative would be to take the opposite positions, right?”
Thus, the core joke of the video was born.
LESSON 2: Don’t be afraid to ask.
The next step was to get people to play the parts of the interviewer and the interviewee. I’ve been a huge fan of the David Pakman Show for a long time, and already had an established business relationship between him and Liberal Bias.
In addition, from time to time, David would play clips of goofy, funny segments from Sir Darryl’s radio show, usually where he would prank call some unsuspecting venue while claiming to be David Pakman’s “agent” so that he could see what types of reactions he could get.
So between Darryl’s ability to pull of some goofy, over-the-top character humor and David’s professional expertise with actually doing real interviews… I figured I had a perfect pair.
“Plus,” the ghost of Machiavelli said inside my brain, “They both have their own audiences and following, so if I can get them on board then there is a good chance it will get the video to spread even farther and gain more views!”
But I will admit, I was a little intimidated at first. I mean, I run this little rinky-dink, homespun website, and both of these guys have actual radio programs that they have been doing for years and years. I was very self-conscious about feeling like I was “reaching too high”.
But, I was always taught: “You never know what you can do until you try.”
Or maybe it was: “You never know what you can get until you ask.”
Something like that. Either way, I donned my most charming and suave personality, sent out some emails, crossed my fingers, and pitched the idea to them.
Thank goodness, they both liked the idea.
LESSON 3: Believe in yourself, but…..
The next step was to write the script and send it to my two actors so that they could record their parts. After that, I was planning on putting it all together, with effects and everything, during the editing phase.
I was incredibly insecure during the writing phase, because I have almost no experience writing scripts like this. Even after I produced a script, I kept saying to both David and Darryl, “Hey, if you can think of anything to make it better, just let me know!”
They didn’t have any suggestions, but I was still anxious.
After getting the recorded pieces back from David and Darryl, I edited together a first draft of the complete video and sent it out to a group of five people whom I trust to review it and give me feedback.
One of the most common things I heard, from four of the five people, was that the script was “solid” and “excellent”.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: they had plenty of different criticisms. But it turns out that my insecurity over my script-writing was unnecessary. Which was very nice to learn.
Now, as to the other feedback they gave me….
LESSON 4: …take the advice of people who’ve been there.
I do try to pride myself in being open to criticism. Plus, I kind of hand-picked the people that I asked to review my draft video: one is an actor and producer in Hollywood, one is a woman who does political satire videos on Youtube and is also married to a professional film producer in Hollywood, and three people who are high-powered social media influencers who also do political satire. So with that kind of “gang” of reviewers, I knew that if they speak, I should listen.
There were some technical things that I got feedback on. My audio levels were a little off between Darryl and David, and I was able to fix that by listening to it with earphones and using my video editing software to correct things. In some places there were transitions or cuts that were awkward, which was also easily fixed.
However, from a content perspective, there were two bits of feedback that I got from almost everyone:
1) Youtube videos need to be short! Especially if they are primarily “talking to the camera” content. My original draft of the video was almost 4 minutes 45 seconds. Based on the feedback I got, I was able to cut it back to 3 minutes 38 seconds… a huge difference in the online video world.
2) More visual stimulation! People are so ADD on the internet, and they are so used to doing more than one thing at once, it’s important to give people more to do while watching a video. This is the feedback that prompted me to add the “news crawl” at the bottom: it was a chance to add a few more jokes, and just keep things a little more visually interesting.
One last observation….
There is one piece of advice that came from 2 of my 5 reviewers, that I did not take.
Two people expressed some worry about the pot smoking / joint gag. Although they both framed it in very oblique terms (“You might end up conjuring up stereotypes that you do not want to reference”), they were basically saying: “Do you really want the black guy to be smoking a joint?”
I really did fret about this for a while.
I also talked about it at length with Darryl. In the end, we both agreed that although some people might read into it differently, we both thought the joint “gag” was clearly intended to be a reference to the “radical liberal” stereotype rather than to a “black” stereotype.
In the end, I guess time will tell about that decision. But as with all of the advice I got, I was thankful to have the perspective: at least it gave me a chance to make a conscious decision to “go for it”, rather than having an objection catch me unawares.
So that’s my personal take on the process of making my first political satire video. The next one will be addressing gun control. I’m probably going to get a porn star to be in it, so stay tuned.