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Book Club PSAs

posted Jan 30, 2013, 9:06 AM by Michael Dreyfus-Pai   [ updated Jan 30, 2013, 11:45 AM ]
The books you're reading in Book Club all feature characters that face challenges, learn, and grow.  You're going to  adapt those stories into a Public Service Announcement, to share them with the school.

What is a PSA?

A Public Service Announcement is a short media piece, in our case a video, that spreads awareness about an issue. It could be a message about drug or alcohol abuse, bullying, adoption, or other concerns.  No matter what the focus, PSAs have a few things in common:
  • Length: they are designed to be commercials, so they fit in 30-60 second blocks
  • Message: they are designed to communicate a moral message.  Everyone watching should understand what that message is, and how the PSA writers want them to act.
  • Story: PSAs don't just say the message outright - they tell a story that has emotional appeal.
Many PSAs are made by the Ad Council.  Go to their site to watch a few examples.

Planning your PSA

Your PSAs are going to transform a message from your Book Club books into a story with a lesson.  This is a difficult task, so we're going to think about it in a few steps.  To start thinking about the lessons in your book, write a blog post responding to this prompt:

Each of your Book Club books features characters that struggle with a challenge and learn lessons.  Choose a character from your book.  Then describe the challenge he or she faces and the lesson he or she learns.  Explain why the character makes the decisions she or he does along the way.

Next, start thinking about how that lesson can be turned into a PSA.  Write a new post, responding to this prompt:

Identify a challenge, problem, or lesson from your book.  It should be a problem that everyone could face.  For example, surviving alone on an island is not a problem everyone could face, but feeling lonely or guilty is.  Describe the lesson you want other people to learn about that problem.  For example, you have to let go of your guilt to move forward in life.

Next, describe how you would present this problem or lesson as a Public Service Announcement starring a character from your book.  Don’t write a script; just describe an idea.  Show the character experiencing a challenge, or learning a lesson.  Make sure that the idea is closely tied to the characters, situations, or scenes from the book.  How will you move the audience to care about the lesson you want them to learn?

Now you're ready to write your script.  The script should include:
  • Dialogue: what the characters will say
  • Stage Directions: how they will say it and how they will move
  • Settings: where will you film?
  • Props/costumes: what do you need to make or bring in to be ready to film?
To help you plan correctly, take a look at the rubric that will be used to grade your PSAs:

Book PSA Rubric


Filming and Editing

Once the planning stage is complete, all that's left is to make your movie!  Here's some tips for filming with iPads:

For Directors:
  • Know your script before you start filming.
  • Instruct actors in where to go, what to say, and when to start.  You're in charge!
  • Keep it moving!  You have limited time.
For Actors:
    • Practice your lines before recording!
    • Wait 3 seconds after start of recording
    • Speak loudly and clearly
For Camerapeople:
    • Hold iPads with both hands firmly, and in "landscape" (widescreen)
    • Look at the screen on the iPad to block the shot correctly
    • Start recording a few seconds early
    • Point at the actors to let them know you're recording
    • Be silent!
    • Hold the camera as still and steady as possible
    • Wait a few seconds after the actors finish before you stop recording
For Everyone:
    • Be quiet while you're not recording so as not to disturb other groups
    • Press play to watch your video over and make sure you can hear and see everything

Edit your video in iMovie, adding appropriate transitions, effects, and music.  Remember:
  • Do not include credits: PSAs and commercials do not have credits.
  • DO NOT INCLUDE BLOOPERS IN YOUR VIDEO.
    • Only if you have extra time, you may make a separate blooper reel.
  • Have a teacher check your video before you export.
  • Make sure your exported video is sized large
  • Give your video a descriptive name with all three group members' numbers
  • Don't forget to submit it to Mr. Dreyfus-Pai!


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