1. Assume that the people watching your video know nothing about your cause.* In fact, as far as you are concerned, their brains are completely devoid of content and unable to grasp any complexity.
2. When it comes to death, violence, and sickness, use the biggest, most impressive figures you can find, whether or not they are true. As long as the figure was once cited by someone, somewhere, you’re in the clear.
4. Do include celebrities. There are a few eloquent and well-informed celebrity spokespeople who conscientiously educate people about important causes. But that’s boring, so get the ones who spout incoherent nonsense,** and/or use really inappropriate props.
6. Emotion: good. Loud music: Good. MTV-style editing: good. Good vs. evil: good. Nuance: bad. Eschew nuance.
7. Don’t waste any scarce video-seconds on how the actions you are inspiring will have an impact on the people for whom you are raising consciousness. Just go ahead and leave it out. Too complicated. Or, maybe there is no impact. There’s no time to figure it out.
*Actually, this is a real suggestion I found on an online guide to making advocacy videos.
**Favorite vacuous celebrity quote from this video, courtesy of Save Darfur Accountability Project: “We are not as ignorant as people think we are, we simply don’t know, and it’s not our fault!”
***Thanks to astute reader Andy Hall for sending us this one.
Click here for the follow-up post, How to Make an Advocacy Video about Africa, Take II.