We found ourselves sitting out at on a patio at an Italian restaurant that overlooked the main thoroughfare—with a great view of a night club across the street—complete with a massive disco ball illuminating the entire block with 1970’s flair and equivalent music to boot. The throngs of people wandering up and down the Grande Allée seemed endless and reminded us of many public events back home like the Feast of Saint Anthony in North End of Boston or Water Fire in Providence. If it weren’t for sheer exhaustion of an entire day exploring the city Sue and I would stayed out and partied with everyone well into the wee hours…
That and the next day’s wonderful breakfast at the L’Arvidienne that Mireille and Serge would prepare for us: a tasty tomato and basil omelette with a fine veal pâté for our toasted breads.
After our delightful breakfast the following day, we were ready to explore a little further outside the city limits. We decided to check out Les chutes de Montmorency (Montmorency Falls) and the nearby Isle d’Orleans (Island of Orleans). The falls were exceptional, billed as being approximately 30 meters (98 feet) higher than Niagara Falls they are spectacular to watch especially from the bridge that spans the width of it from above. There is an entire section of stairs and landings that slope down one side of the rocks nearby that offer a breathtaking view of the falls, and a cable car ride that takes you back to the top (or down if you wish) connected to a visitor’s center below. There are many spots to take fabulous pictures and get sprayed all at once.
The Island of Orleans was a bit of a disappointment for us however. We were told that this place was a picturesque spot filled with shops, sites, and great views of Quebec City nearby. We were expecting something like Martha’s Vineyard and what we really got was Nahant Massachusetts meets Westerly Rhode Island with a little Cape Cod thrown in. Not that it was bad, but certainly attempting to tour the entire island would have been a waste of a whole day for us. Instead, we stuck to the main attractions: the chocolate shop, the gelato shop, the foundry, and of course the microbrew. We ended getting there too late to hit the wineries and some of the more rustic shops. But after two hours we were done. We desperately ran back to the visitor’s center to return our skipping English language tour CD for a refund. Our advice would be to avoid the island if you can or stick to the aforementioned highlights and move on to more interesting venues.
So disappointed were we with the Island of Orleans that we immediately made a bee-line back to Quebec City and parked our car near the Rue du Petit-Champlain for an early evening stroll in the shops and a very nice dinner sitting outside one of the more eclectic eateries that feature a lot of pork and pig dishes (including a decent attempt at barbecued ribs) at Le Cochon Dingue. Watching ships go by in the evening hours as we enjoyed the outside ambience was very tranquilizing and helped to undo our pensive impressions of the island earlier.
For our last day in Quebec City my wife and I were treated to a lovely breakfast of, you guessed it, French Toast! I was waiting for it over the last couple of days and Mireille certainly delivered. We were a little sad to be leaving our hosts—we had grown fond of them in the last couple of days. I would certainly recommend any couple of all ages visiting Quebec City to look into staying at the L’Arvidienne Couette et Café. The rooms were clean, decorative, and comfortable: each one named after a famous French painter such as Monet or Van Gogh. The service and friendliness of the hosts are bar-none top notch. And there is ample free parking that you wouldn’t find if staying at a B&B in the crowded Old Walled City. All in all, this was a very good stay for a couple of native New Englanders.
But it was time for us to head home, of course after a little diversion back to the old city for a few more hours. This time we parked at an underground parking garage near The Parliament Building. We headed over to this palatial edifice which is the seat of government for the Province of Quebec, and at one time all of Canada. My wife and I passed through a minimum of security that would have given the guards at the US Capitol Building a nervous breakdown, and we made it just in time for the free tour. We were treated to anecdotes on the building’s history (tied with Quebec’s) as recorded in the architecture and stained glass windows everywhere you looked. Also, we were taken to the two main meeting chambers for Quebec’s Parliament past and present—including the room where they almost voted to succeed from the Canadian Union back in 1995. And we checked out the interactive multimedia kiosks in the building’s foyer that presents many fascinating videos on the goings on in Quebec the province, Quebec City, and Canada—all in French of course.
The Parliament building was a good short diversion that whetted my appetite for more historical ventures while touring the city. So we ended up walking over to the The Artillery Park where you can tour the Old Armory, Soldier’s Barracks, and the Colonel’s Home just beyond the wall near the Rue Saint-Jean. Unlike the extensive Citadel that we just didn’t have time to visit, we thought that we could do a quick tour of these smaller historic military sites before we had to finally head home. We were pleasantly surprised that for a minimal fee (covering all three buildings) we got to see some interesting artifacts and learn some intriguing historical facts here.
The Amory was the largest that once held munitions used to repel the British invasion back in 1759. It was also used as an ammunition factory to help Canada’s war effort in both World Wars of the last century. Finally, it was turned into a museum that features pleasant and informative staff in period costumes, a stage for presentations, lots of artifacts from the city’s various periods, formal tours of the sites, and large model of historic Quebec that can be viewed from a catwalk above much like (but a fraction of the size) the massive Italo Gismondi’s model of Ancient Rome in the Museo della Civiltà Romana located just outside of Rome Italy in the EUR district.
The other buildings in the site were also interesting as the staff/performers played their parts well to give visitors a sense of what it was like to live in earlier times centuries ago—up to and including a wood burning fire in the barrack’s kitchen where a cook was preparing for the visitor to sample actual bread (baked in the original hearth, with a titillating aroma permeating the entire kitchen even from the outside) and other victuals the soldiers of the day sustained themselves with. I should also remark that the cook seemed to be very much in love with the maid who serviced the Colonel’s home nearby as he told us to compliment her eyes for him when we went over there—this was apparently more than an act as those two were beaming when they saw each other—a nice reminder of why my wife and I came to Quebec City in the first place: a romantic get-a-way.
After our little amorous interlude and historical excursion, we decided to have one more meal outside before we headed back to the United States. We walked along the Rue Saint-Jean to the Rue Sainte-Anne, and found a row of eateries with patios just waiting for us to patronize. I was in the mood for a simple hamburger and we ended up at this labyrinthine Irish Pub called, Maison Serge Bruyère—though the name does not match the signage which suggests, The Pub St. Patrick. An Irish Pub in French Canadian Quebec City you say? Well it couldn’t hurt to try it and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of service, food, and beer we got there. Also, the view of the street and the throngs of people going by were a nice bonus.
Afterwards, we got one more gelato for the road and begrudgingly decided that we absolutely had to leave and go home. We retrieved our car and left this fabulous place the way we came. As we crossed over the bridge once again, the sun was starting to set over the Saint Lawrence bathing the city in an iridescent golden light—what a wonderful last look it was.
On the ride back and well into the evening, my wife and I talked about some of the things that we were definitely going to see and do the next time we visit Quebec City, sites and attractions such as: The Citadel, The Centre d’interprétation de Place-Royale, The Falls at St. Catharines, The Plains of Abraham, the ubiquitous horse and buggy ride, a boat tour of the Saint Lawrence River with stunning views of the city, more nightlife attractions, more museums including the Dragon exhibit at the Musee de la Civilisation (if it is still there), more eating outside and more fine dining experiences, and simply more of everything that can be gleefully enjoyed in one of the most romantic cities in North America—only a six and a half hour drive from Boston. This was a true travel success as far as we were concerned.
We vowed to return again someday, perhaps very soon in 2011 as Quebec City celebrates its 403rd year anniversary on July 3rd. I don’t think Uncle Sam will mind us spending two Independence Day holidays with our neighbors to the North.
There I was banging away at my Mac, looking for an easy romantic get-a-way for my wife, Sue, and I. We wanted something different and exciting, we were sick of the old New England standbys (though wonderful destinations) like Martha’s Vineyard, Newport Rhode Island, Woodstock Vermont, and even Foxwoods™ Resort and Casino. With 720,000 square miles from Maine to Connecticut there just wasn’t anything that we were interested in doing in all six states combined.
So I decided to look elsewhere outside of New England, but within driving distance, that we could spend a quality three-night romantic weekend during the Fourth of July holiday. I looked at Niagara Falls, the Poconos, and even another jaunt down to Virginia (that we’ve been to many times), but nothing sufficed. We weren’t interested in flying, spending way too much money, and being under-whelmed by cheesy tourist traps.
And that’s when I said to Sue, “How about Canada?”
To which she replied, “I don’t know, I’ve been to Montreal and didn’t like it all that much.”
“Well, maybe there’s somewhere else in Canada we could go to,” I retorted.
“Well, go ahead and look,” she added.
So I did and after about two-seconds of searching on the Internet I came across Quebec City.
And we’re so glad I did.
I started with the official site of the city that had some basic information about visiting this French Canadian enclave. That piqued Sue’s and my interest. Then I came across the official tourism site and we watched a well-made Quicktime video about the wonders of Quebec City (i.e. the capital of the Canadian province and the surrounding areas) and we were hooked.
What a charming little city it seemed to us, and potentially a wonderful adventure for to embark on within a six and a half hour drive. Quebec could be the perfect romantic destination that we’ve been looking for—and it was as it turned out.
I made a few calls and got us reservations at a quaint little B&B near the old city (more on that later), and Googled the driving directions, looked up some sites and attractions, and asked my wife how to say, “good day,” and “thank you,” in French.
Just before our trip we made sure to get our passports as per the on-again off-again TSA rules for going between North American countries. We also got lots of recommendations from co-workers of things to do and see while there. And finally we packed up our car and were off to the Great White North on our little odyssey.
Though the Google maps website puts the drive at about six and a half hours, it really took us more like nine and a half with the stops we made for lunch and gas and just plain stretching out. No matter, the country-side that far North in the US was absolutely amazing. Lush old New England landscapes (right out of a classic painting) permeated the horizon and beyond, the little NE hamlets lining the road and the valleys were charming, and mountainous regions like the Franconia Notch in New Hampshire was awe-inspiring. Even though the Old Man isn’t there anymore it does not detract from the beauty of this venerated place.
Crossing over into Vermont for the last fifty miles before the US/Canadian border I began to get a sense of something unique, something I’ve never felt before: I have never been this far north in my entire life. What a feeling it was to be driving to another country. Sure, I’ve been to other countries like Italy, Germany, and The Bahamas, but I’ve always flown and expected the routine to be the same—kind of a disconnected “get on the plane in the US, sleep for a bit, have a few drinks, and get off the plane somewhere else.” But this was not the case when driving to Canada. I felt like a real explorer (for what it’s worth), charting new territory, and getting exhilarated in the process.
Finally it was time to cross the border. The Canadian border check point was relatively quiet and the person checking our passports was pleasant and unassuming. He waved us through and then we were in Canada. Just like that. Not just Canada, but a French Canadian province with its own language and customs. How incredible! Now I was driving Nord on Autoroute 55, and trying to take everything Canadian in as much as I could from the driver’s seat of my car. My wife was amused by my fascination with this whole experience as if she did this everyday and it was no big deal, but it certainly was to me.
We made a couple of nondescript pit stops along the way, but ultimately we got to our destination: Quebec City. I was still having trouble resolving miles into kilometers when suddenly the outskirts of the city crept up on us as the sun was starting to wane. What a beautiful site it was seeing the Saint Lawrence River for the fist time in my life as we crossed over it at that part of the day. Finally, we crossed the bridge we were on and headed for the heart of the city.
Our immediate goal was to get to the Rue Grande Allée towards the Old City. Our bed and breakfast, L’Arvidienne Couette et Café, was a charming little chateau-like home right across the street from the famed Plains of Abraham where the French residents fought the British army for control of the city back on September 13th, 1759. The French lost, and for over a hundred years Quebec City was ruled directly by the British until 1867. Founded on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, this little settlement had seen centuries of war, development, industry, culture, tourism, and world renown to become one of the greatest North American cities. Per capita, Quebec City has the highest number of fine dining restaurants, and is one of the few places on the continent where English is “not” the most commonly spoken language (excluding Mexico of course).
Our ebullient hosts at the L’Arvidienne, Mireille Hubert & Serge Gauthier, were fabulously attentive and endearing as they doted on us from the moment we arrived. Mireille had taken the liberty of making dining reservations for us that evening at an impressive little French restaurant in the Old Walled City called, Le Saint Amour. After freshening up a bit we headed out on the Grande Allée to the restaurant.
The most recent tagline, 21st Century Digital Writing, is my LinkedIn professional headline rather than whatever job title I’m shooting for. I believe my tagline in this case (i.e. for my entire profile) conveys far better what I can offer clients and companies than a job title that might get outdated. Good copywriting is future-proof!
Now granted, this doesn’t work in every case. And in fact, I chose to headline my Candidate Profile One-Sheet with a job title that makes it easier for prospective hiring managers to give my credentials a cursory glance for possible jobs that reflect that title.
Next up is the brand new and exciting tagline for Dedham Television.
Here was the old one:
Here is the new one that I wrote:
Integrated Media for a Connected Community!
Which one would you prefer?
Obviously the newer one that I wrote. The old tagline was wrapped up in the old logo and simply did not reflect the newer digital times that we live in. Therefore, I made a case to the Exec. Dir. to change it, and she agreed. The new tagline is used on the new Dedham TV website, product data-sheets (as on the reverse page of the document to the left), and on marketing collateral such as the business cards—see the Websites page and the Branding & Logos page for examples.
Best Western Centralized Advertising Website Program – ISM
Back when I was working at Irma S. Mann Strategic Marketing (ISM), I did a lot of copywriting for their Best Western Centralized Advertising Website Program (a mouthful, I know). My primary duty was to promote and grow the program which was a subscription service to a proprietary website builder app for BW franchisees. This involved reaching out the BW members nationally and internationally through direct mail, HTML email advertising, and faxback solicitations (yes, faxing as in facsimile machines, if you can recall what those were!).
The example here is a direct mail piece that I created in a Adobe Pagemill (a now defunct desktop publishing program, superseded by Adobe InDesign and Photoshop/Illustrator to a lesser extent).
Below is an example of a faxback solicitation!
And finally, below is an example of a rich HTML Email (direct mail) marketing campaign for the BW website program. This was actually created in both Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia (now Adobe) Dreamweaver. I coded this in HTML before it was sent to Constant Contact for distribution.
Note: Though the graphics and design might be a little slim on these three examples—due to the fact that I hadn’t fully developed my Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator skills at the time (ca. 2003-04)—the important thing to note is all of the actual copywriting in these samples. They are filled with all of the features that make for sizzling copywriting: hooks, humor, pithy witticisms, value propositions, price points vs. pain points, and calls to action to name a few. ISM actually had real graphic designers working on other client projects; I was one of the few writers who could bridge the divide between writing and design, and do it digitally!
Best Western Centralized Advertising Website Program – ISM
Even though there is a whole page Marketing and Communications page that is full of marketing collateral examples of my writing, I thought that a few examples here from the BW website program might also serve as samples of my copywriting work.
While I managed this program for ISM, I wrote a ton of stuff from technical documents, webcopy, reports, proposals, to the aforementioned direct mail pieces and more. Below is a sample of a report that was used as part of a Welcome Kit that I created for the BW website program. The kit’s purpose was to get the new subscriber to the program up-to-speed quickly to all of the features and benefits of the program, which included website statistics and SEO.
Print Ads are a staple of copywriting. As the Senior Communications Manager at DVAC I got to create a number of print ads that made their way into the local news publications such as The Dedham Times.
Below is an example of one such print ad announcing Dedham Television’s new website (that I built, see the Websites page for more info). Not only did I write all of the copy for this ad but I also created the design in Adobe Photoshop.
The important thing to note here is that the Dedham TV tagline also appears here on this ad. Furthermore, the fonts, branding, and logo were all carefully chosen to represent the organization. The ad succinctly illustrates all the new features and benefits of the DedhamTV.com website.
To the left is another print ad that also appeared in The Dedham Times that I worked on with Susan Howland of Creativedge – Innovative Marketing Solutions. This one was a simple promo for a live audience recording of a spiritual medium experience hosted by Dedham Television. Though the copy on this ad is pretty bare bones, the color graphics are what makes the ad really pop out.
Cut the Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY!
A long time ago I wrote two non-fiction books on screenwriting, the first one was titled Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY! It was, as the following banner describes it:
The concise easy-to-follow no BS book on screenwriting!
And it was!
In fact, the book was even endorsed by the organizers of Hollywood’s Great American PitchFest. So much so, that I was invited to be a guest exhibitor at their annual conference. They gave me a nice booth to occupy, for which I created this banner:
Note: This is a greatly reduced version of the original banner image. The original is a Photoshop file tops out at about 400MB and is over 8K pixels wide! The printed version of the banner that was used on the booth is almost 6 feet long!
Not only did I write the aforementioned non-fiction books but I also wrote a series of Science-Fiction books titled NLV (A.K.A. New Las Vegas). They were in novella formats, each chapter a semi-stand alone story but with an overall story arc. They featured a suite of recurring characters all loosely connected to each other.
The concept was about a super-sized version of Las Vegas in the future where almost nothing is illegal.
I managed to write, produce, and publish two EBooks of NLV—future chapters are still in development.
And to promote them, I created marketing collateral, which included promotional post cards. The following sample was distributed at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con resulting in thousands of downloads for each chapter!
Note: This postcard really highlighted the fact that the books were only available in EBook formats. This was a conscious choice to tap into the lucrative digital publishing market with almost no overhead for physical printing needs. Furthermore, the QR code on the back of the postcard takes you directly to NLVProject.com. The website also dedicated to the promotion and details about all things NLV. It was a great website full of media and news and so much more. The website is currently in a mothballed state as I am retooling the entire writing project for traditional publication.
What are Spec Sheets? They concept or idea documents. Essentially, an organization’s marketing department would bounce around new ideas and if they have a really good creative staff—especially writers—they can put together a flyer or data-sheet on a speculative product or service.
This type of copywriting can also be employed when campaigning for new opportunities at companies. I have had the opportunity to put together spec sheets for companies like GTECH(now IGT), BOSE, and HASBRO.
The following are my spec sheet samples that I created for each of the aforementioned organizations.
Back when the iPhone was a relatively new thing, it seemed like there was an app for just about anything coming out in droves. It was only a matter of time before online gambling apps would become a reality—albeit a mostly illegal reality. However, there are quasi-legitimate gambling apps that exist today such as: SLOTS.LV, DraftKings, and Lottery.com.
However, thinking forward as I was campaigning for a copywriting role with GTECH, I created and delivered this spec sheet on a new product called the iLotto by GTECH!
As you will see in the sample, this spec sheet has all the copywriting tropes: catchy headline, problem-action-result sales pitch, a call to action, plus some quick and dirty technical information to help entice customers.
When I create a spec sheet, I go all they way, which includes elements like copyright info, legal disclaimers, actual company graphics and branding styles, and design elements (sidebars, text boxes, etc.). This particular sample was created in an older version of Adobe InDesign.
Back when my desktop publishing skills were still in its infancy, I used Microsoft Word a lot to create more primitive spec sheets. However, my focus has always been on the writing first, then the graphic design. I’ve gotten a heck of a lot better since now that I use Adobe InDesign to create most of my spec sheets and marketing collateral for companies and clients.
But back in ’04 the iPod Click Wheel was all the rage!
Anyway, BOSE is a great company in Framingham Mass. and I really wanted to work there. So I put this spec sheet together as part of an interview strategy. This one isn’t as tricked out as the GTECH sample but the copy is what’s important here.
HASBRO: G.I. Pony & Escape From Starkiller Base
Hasbro is like a fortress: trying to breach the employment wall there is extremely difficult—even when one of your relatives works there!
I can’t tell you how many jobs I have applied for, phone screened, and interviewed for in the past. However, for one reason or another they never seem to move forward with me. I have sent them numerous portfolios and the following spec sheets. Sometimes when it seems like I’d be moving to the next level in the interview process, the job gets put on hold or cancelled. Sometimes I simply never hear from them again.
I often joke that no one gets hired at HASBRO…well, almost no one!
Anyway, here are two of my masterpieces during my feckless attempts to work at the “Star Wars and Marvel” toy company!
The first is G.I. Pony: Viva La Ponyville. This is a mash-up of My Little Pony and G.I. Joe, two HABRO merchandising properties. I thought it would be fun to put this together to demonstrate my Brand Writer skills. I have to credit Susan Howland of Creativedge here for the kick-butt pony images. I put together the spec logo at the top the sheet in Adobe Illustrator. Note the witty and whimsical style in the overall copy—especially with the horse puns used for the characters’ names.
I actually think this would have been a great toy line had I got a chance to pitch it!
The second is Star Wars: The Force Awakens – “Escape From Starkiller Base”.
The story idea is that you’re either a member of The Resistance or the First Order. You are trapped on the doomed Starkiller Base and have to escape before it blows up. The game play involves an interactive board game setup enhance by mini-touch screens and connected mobile devices. There was even a VR component to it as well.
The whole concept was to create a popular HASBRO brand-based game, and write the compelling copy for it, to campaign for a Games Writer position. They needed creative game ideas that encompassed their brands, and I gave them one!
It’s too bad that the work that went into this concept didn’t go anywhere. Oh well, I still think it would have made a best selling 21st Century game!
See for yourself.
Advertorials, the cross between an advertisement and an editorial, can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the fun that they are to write. You can literally tell any story you want in any fantastical way that you want, and still market and promote your product or service. The curse is when readers get deep into the advertorial and realize that they are not reading news but a thinly-veiled advertisement. It can be very annoying.
The key to not alienating your readers from the product or service that the advertorial is trying to promote is to simply be up front with them: this is an advertorial but you’re going to want to read it anyway. Why? Because it will tell a great story regardless.
That’s they way I wrote the following two advertorials.
Note — These documents are formatted in traditional formal short-story/journalism pre-publication formats. They were never intended to be dressed up as marketing collateral, only to be submitted (magazine-style) to the prospective employers.
SAM ADAMS OCTOBERFEST: THE NECTAR OF THE GODS
At one time, my favorite beer was Sam Adams Octoberfest. If you’re a craft brew drinker who could resist the malty and toffee flavor of this fine seasonal beverage?
And around that time my wife and I were getting married.
So being the ever exuberant writer that I am, I decided to write a series of Sam Adam Beer Chronicles that were both episodic and interconnected to each other (much like my science fiction novels). The first one I wrote was Sam Adams Octoberfest: The Nectar of the Gods. I won’t spoil the plot here; you can read it in its entirety by clicking on the image to the left.
Writing it was great fun; however, what was even more fun was handing a copy of the story to Jim Koch himself! For those who don’t know who Jim Koch is, he is the man who founded and presides over the Boston Beer Company, and is quite the folk hero around these parts!
He said he was thrilled to read it, which I hope he did but knowing how insanely busy he is, I’m sure he never got around to it. Regardless, giving the story to him was a personal victory for me!
HOW I GOT LUCKY ON CHRISTMAS GTECH: THE COMPANY BEHIND THE MAGIC
Next up is a little advertorial that I wrote for GTECH (again as part of my campaign to secure a writing position with them).
This one was about a true story of my wife Sue (as in Susan Howland of Creativedge who I keep mentioning all throughout this portfolio!) and a trip we made to a Connecticut casino of Christmas Day Night. Since GTECH (and presumably IGT now) makes casino gaming machines, I thought that it would be a great idea to merge the two into an advertorial that I could use to present myself to the company.
Though it went nowhere, here is the story anyway, which illustrates my copywriting and advertising writing skills.
As I have mentioned before, a lot of times prospective employers want to know if you have the chops to write for them; therefore, they will give you (the writing candidate) an assignment. For NASUNI Corp. it was two product reviews that answered questions they proposed.
Here they are for your reading enjoyment!
Note — This was written in 2010, a lot has changed technology-wise since then. I am now the proud owner of a prematurely past-its-prime iPhone 7!
As we near the final entries into my Copywriting section of this online portfolio, I have decided to include the following story pitches that wrote for Thrillist Boston. If there’s one thing you can say about me, it is that I have no shortage of ideas. This should be a good benefit to any future employers who need writers that can constantly come up with new stories and story angles for their marketing efforts. I am that person!
Spec Copywriting Samples
Finally, I’d like to end off this section with some Spec Copywriting Samples. One agency that I reached out to required that I was familiar with all of the various copywriting styles.
Know, Like Trust
Problem, Pain, Promise
B2C Copywriting, Bonus/Incentive
Of course I am!
So here they are!
If I were Apple Inc. here’s what I’d say about the new iHoloPhone:
“Telegraph, Telephone, Cellphone, iPhone… Meet the 2020 iHoloPhone: everything before it: is like tying a string between two cups!”
If I were Tesla Motors here’s what I’d say about the new Hydrogen-powered Model H1X car:
“Now the most prevalent substance in the Universe powers your car…forever. The H1X utilizes the most advanced eco friendly hydrogen burning engine on the planet for a staggering 1000 miles per cubic meter of H1 gas. And the only emission is water vapor. This is the car that Mother Earth has been waiting for— so have you!”
If I were Del Frisco’s Grille opening up in Dedham Mass, here’s how I’d get “foodies” to come to my new location:
“New York has only one; Massachusetts now has three! Who knows steak better than New Englanders? Come in out of the cold, watch the Pats win in the next ‘snowbowl’ and dive into the best rib eye this side of the Charles!”
KNOW, LIKE, AND TRUST
If I were a fast-growing local financial services organization that wanted to sound like the big Wall Street boys, here’s how I would write my next ad:
“AIG, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, BOA, AMEX, and two of the Big Three automakers: what do they all have in common? Nothing with Dedham Financial Corp! We don’t take bailouts, handouts, or copouts! Our clients make the money first. That’s the DFC guarantee!”
PROBLEM, PAIN, AND PROMISE
If I were a health care provider organization such as Lahey Hospital here’s the message that I would to convey to patients considering changing medical services:
“Lahey Hospital: honest, caring, convenient, and comprehensive medicine. Everything you need to get well again.”
B2C COPYWRITING, BONUS/INCENTIVE
If I were Ben and Jerry’s moving into JP Licks’ territory here’s how I’d run my campaign:
“This Saturday at Ben and Jerry’s newest location in Dedham Mass there will be an ice cream blowout! All of your favorite flavors: New York Superfudge Chunk, Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and many more, plus some blasts from the past like Rainforest Crunch and Wavy Gravy, will be given away to the first 200 customers who come on down! Also there will be games, entertainment, and maybe even a clown or two! Don’t miss this Ice Cream Madness in May event!”
If I were a web-services company here’s how I would write my banner ad:
“Web hosting, web development, and ad words, all made easy with One Click Web!”
If I were resurrecting Satcon Technologies, here’s how I would spread the word:
“National security has always relied on strong stable energy resources. Now more than ever America needs to utilize and optimize its domestic sustainable power sources: solar, wind, and clean burning coal. Satcon offers its energy grid customers a vast array of new products designed to make power generation and transmission safe and secure for America’s future and beyond!”
If I were sending out a direct mail piece to tell local residents that a new small business (a jewelry store) was opening up in Dedham Square, here’s how I’d get their attention:
“Dedham Square has just become a little more sparkly! Caution! You may need sunglasses to see what’s inside!”
JUNK OFF! 20% OFF WASTE REMOVAL NOW!
RUN THE RACE GET FREE STUFF!!!
BUY ONE, GET TWO FREE! BUY TWO, GET FOUR FREE!
FORGOT ABOUT VALENTINE’S DAY? WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED!
Here you will find a cross-section of videos that I directed, wrote, shot, edited, produced, distributed, and sometimes even hosted.
They are sorted by type, i.e. documentary, special program, genre news/journalism, promotional video, PSA, and performing arts.
Also below you will find detailed discussions about video scripts and video projects; some of which that did not get past the proposal or development stage, and some that did not work out as planned.
Feel free to watch, read, and enjoy!
Noble and Greenough — Stamp Out Hunger — 2014
Production Notes: Directed, shot, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. This was a request from the Noble and Greenough School to cover this annual community service program. After arriving, I decided to shoot it as a documentary because there was so much human interest material and the school campus made for a great picturesque location. I got a wealth of footage that day including B-roll, interviews, and montage material.
Back at the studio, I used Final Cut Pro 7 to edit the video; adding classical music from Bach, Beethoven, Delibes, and Rodrigo. I also used a variety of motion techniques to convey theme and story elements.
Overall, this 11-minute video really captured the essence of this all-day charitable event to benefit the hungry and food insecure. And it was lauded by the school’s marketing and communications department as the best coverage and broadcast of their yearly event.
Taste Dedham — 2014 — The Halloween Special
Production Notes: Directed, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. At last minute, I was called in to host a special annual event called Taste Dedham. This is a local food expo where restauranteurs, caterers, and food service organizations come together to showcase their delicious wares, along with music, and dancing, and fun! These expos usually are theme-based and this one was a Halloween special. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to go and host it as Batman!
I had a cameraman with me who shot while I hosted and directed. Back at the studio, I edited this program on Final Cut Pro 7. I used royalty-free music and media from Video & Audio Blocks. I used some public domain images from The Internet. And legally under the Fair Use Policy, I used snippets of commercial music.
This 34-minute program is a cavalcade of food exhibition and fun montages, jaunty interviews, a memorial to Boston’s late great Mayor Thomas Menino, and there’s even a blooper reel during the end credits!
The Dedham Rotary Club and Open Table praised the production and broadcast as being the best and most entertaining coverage of this event ever and to date.
Production Notes: Directed, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. During my time at Dedham Television/DVAC (Digital Visionary Access Corp.), I produced and ran a show called NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER. It was a genre/pop-culture news, comedy, and commentary show that featured guests from the film and TV industry, characters from sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, original characters, fun locations, and music.
This episode was shot at San Diego Comic-Con. I brought a cameraman with me and we shot the entire convention including this panel discussion with two players in the Hollywood film and TV industry: Daniel Thron and David Bryant.
There is also lots footage and montages from the convention as a whole (5 days worth). I make use of fast and slow motion techniques to help convey the scale of this massive event. Footage was also shot on an iPhone 5s as well as multiple digital HD cameras.
The episode was edited by me with Final Cut Pro X (the first to be edited on this new platform for Dedham Television). I utilize a wide range of editing techniques from: motion transitions, multi-camera angles (using PluralEyes to synch the audio), multiple video tracks that include overlaid media (i.e. public domain images and movie clips), multiple audio tracks that include royalty-free music and sound effects, scrolling backgrounds, and even a 7-video track 2-film comparison starting at time code 26:49. I also used animations generated in Adobe After Effects.
Finally, I added a memorial to the late great Leonard Nimoy (better known as Spock from TV’s Star Trek).
This is my best producing and editing work thus far and it was well received for YouTube Comic-Con-related broadcasts of 2015, and the best show Dedham Television ever produced!
Sandra Gilpatrick — Wealth Consultant
Production Notes: Directed, co-written, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Sandra Gilpatrick, CFP®, CDFA™, Wealth Consultant. Sandra is a good friend of mine. Her woman-owned business, helping independent women manage their finances, is a remarkable enterprise. So when she wanted to promote her business, she felt that a promo-video would be a great place to start. We discussed various options at my studio office and decided to draft a 5 – 7 page script first. We whittled it down to about 4 pages, coming in at about 3 minutes.
The first iteration of the video was shot at my studio in front of a blue screen, edited on Final Cut Pro 7 which later I put in lots of royalty-free establishing shots of the Boston skyline from Video Blocks. We also used some jazzy royalty-free music from Audio Blocks. Though Sandra and her husband appreciated the first pass at the video, they felt that they needed a more intimate setting that captured the class of sophistication that Sandra really does exude.
So we decided to reshoot the video at the St. Botolph Club in Boston’s Back Bay. We used a single camera shoot with a teleprompter. We shot in two of the most elegant rooms in the club (the Atlantic Room and the Green Room). Finally, we shot some B-roll footage of Sandra walking along the Parisian-style mall on Commonwealth Avenue.
Back in the studio, with the blue screen concept abandoned, I chose a different editing approach. Sandra wanted to pay homage to her wonderful and inspiration grandmother, so I did a Ken Burns-effect image pan of Sandra’s grandparents. Also, we changed the background music to something trendier and hip from Pond5. We used some iPhone captured footage from lectures on finance that Sandra gave in a montage. I also added overlays, chirons, and titles.
In the end, I produced for a Sandra a nice little promo-video that she is very happy with, has had many views, and screenshots from it adorn her website’s homepage.
Public Service Announcement/PSA
NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Batman vs. Harley Quinn!
Production Notes: Directed, written, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. A few years ago it seemed like everyone was jumping on the Ice Bucket Challenge to help raise awareness and research funds for treating ALS. Well, I felt that Dedham Television needed to do their own version of the Ice Bucket Challenge and since I was producing NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER at the time, I decided to do a superhero/super-villian version of the Internet meme.
I got one of my actors, the beautiful and whimsical Katie Lewis (who loves to cosplay at comic cons herself), to dress up as Harley Quinn, and I donned a Batman costume, so we could do a real cute and sneaky version of the challenge!
This was a multi-camera shoot outside of Dedham Television’s studio in the parking lot. It was edited on Final Cut Pro 7 with very little bells and whistles as far as effects were concerned since it was a PSA.
This was a very well-received version of the Ice Bucket Challenge and Dedham Television also donated $100 to the cause.
Kira Seamon’s Bird Ballet
Production Notes: Directed and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. This one was a bit of a challenge because there was very little time to prepare for this shoot. Essentially, I was asked to cover this performance art event at the Traditions of Dedham, Senior Living Facility. Kira Seamon is a performance artist, and one of her passions is community service—especially for seniors. Therefore, she choreographed an entire ballet to music from Tchaikovsky’s three most-notable ballets (The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake) along with a visual presentation of photography centered around domestic and exotic birds.
Some of the more difficult aspects of filming this was that I was only allowed one spot in which film (the rear of the hall); therefore, I focused solely on Kira’s performance. The greater challenge was the audio. Kira’s audio system was not up-to-snuff; the music was poorly amplified. Therefore, being a classical music audiophile myself, I dubbed over pre-recorded digital versions of the ballet pieces in place of the original audio.
I also wove in and out of the performances in the editing process (using Final Cut Pro X) fading between Kira and her photographic work, which I felt made for a more interesting video presentation. Finally, I added a few small interviews during some of the performances, and a royalty-free video from Video Blocks of swans during the end credits.
This was also the first time Dedham Television utilized the new video bumper tag and logo that I created in both Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.
The Executive Director of Dedham Television praised my work on this project saying that I took a nearly un-film-able event and turned it into a work of art!
Video Scripts/Video Projects
Writing for educational and public broadcast media or for commercial video is somewhat different from traditional screenwriting or episodic television script writing. I have written lots of traditional screenplays (following the tenets set down by McKee, Field, Snyder, and Trottier) and pitched them to Hollywood executives as events such as The Great American PitchFest. However, when I began working for Dedham Television/DVAC I had to learn new styles to writing production-level scripts. Furthermore, I started producing commercial videos where I had to modify my screenwriting skills to meet the demands of that media type.
The following are three examples of this type of Video Script Writing.
Sandra Gilpatrick — Wealth Consultant
The following script is the final version that Sandra and I wrote and produced. Sandra provided all of the financial and personal information, I then reworked it into concise marketing/commercial video dialogue and formatted everything into a proper video script. I also converted the script into teleprompter text that Sandra read from while shooting the video.
AOC Investment Advisors
Jennifer Williams-Bulkeley, a referral from Sandra Gilpatrick, and Founder of Vinolytics (formerly, AOC Investment Advisors) contacted me about developing a video series that focused on investment opportunities in the world of fine wines and vintners.
The first official contact between us resulted in a Project Evaluation (PE, which you can read here). She was intrigued enough by the PE that we then moved to a Newcast Video Project Statement of Work (SOW). The following SOW, though not a video script, is a highly-detailed video project that covers every aspect of the video production from technical details, a comprehensive development process, future episodes, production costs, and more. I could have easily written the five-page script mentioned in the SOW based on all of this research.
Though the project never moved past this stage, is it interesting to note that AOC evolved into Vinolytics, and Jennifer began producing her own wine and vineyard videos in a blog format that she broadcasts on her Vinolytics Vimeo Channel. Though my vision of what her winery and wine culture video series did not match up with hers, I still think that I provided her with invaluable information that she seems to have adopted in a more subdued form.
Which is why I do PEs now instead of full on proposals, and I usually charge for an SOW these days because I do not like giving away intellectual property for free—lesson learned.
But I’ll still allow you to read the SOW because it was geared towards that one specific project. And if I can help out a fellow creative/entrepreneur how is trying to start their business with what a solid SOW for this type of work should look like—and more importantly, what they should be getting paid for a similar project—then I don’t have a problem posting the SOW here.
Prime Motor Group
Now that I think about it, since I’m all about helping my fellow creative/entrepreneur, I’m going to include here the comprehensive proposal I wrote for the Prime Motor Group (PMG) that details a Group Training Video Production Project.
This was a particularly poignant endeavor because I was essentially lied to by the PMG exec who assured me that the project was already approved by corporate even before I had written the proposal!
What they wanted was a new series of training videos for their automotive sales representatives—and believe me they needed it! The old one they showed me was something from the late 1980s with bad, bad, bad video green screen effects; terrible audio, and the most boring dry old man explaining on a white board how to sell cars! Yeah, it was that bad.
So I knew what they needed, and needed it badly, but it was going to cost them.
But it didn’t work out that way, unfortunately.
You see, the problem here is two-fold:
Trying to determine a reasonable budget for a project like this that takes into account how valuable the video producer’s time is, plus all of the production costs, and a minimal profit to make it all worth it. I took great pains to figure all that out. Though I had the benefit of Dedham Television’s studio and equipment, I still required a host of production expenses (as detailed in the proposal). My time and work is worth something to me, and I wasn’t about to under cut it just to land a contract—any business person or freelancer will tell you that is the surest way to sell yourself short and not be taken seriously—and be miserable in the process. Therefore, I went to a few freelance videographer and producer websites and a videographer hourly rate calculator and worked out an hourly wage (along with all of the production costs) that was acceptable to my needs. Which I guess didn’t jibe with theirs!
The second problem is that the client really didn’t want to pay for the work! They thought they were going to get a massive discount (or even FREE WORK) from me because of their relationship with Dedham Television. This happens all the time. When clients see what these projects really cost, they balk at it. And that’s when you know that you DO NOT want to work with them; they will rip you off either deliberately or through ignorance. Run!
And that’s what happened with the PMG project.
I got into a heated discussion with their contact when they tried to “nickel and dime me” with a fraction of what the project was worth along with pushing it out six months or more (or really never!). When I called them on that, I was told that I was making a $54K mistake. Really? They had rebuffed the actual cost of the project and tried to get it for a song, and then they tell me that I was making the huge mistake, losing the cost of the whole proposal that they had already dismissed!
Anyway, I knew that the project was dead right then and there despite the promise that it was already approved by corporate!
So I left them to go and pay 3-times as much from an ad agency or video production house to produce their training videos.
I have no idea what ever happened to the project; my guess is that they didn’t do a darn thing and continued on with the tepid old-white-guy and the snooze-fest bad training videos.
Lessons to take from this experience:
Never sell your work short!
Never do any free work!
Always put a high on value your skills and experience!
And if you want clients to take you seriously: ask for a lot of money, which you deserve!
Here’s the training video production proposal my friends for you to learn from:
NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER – NSFC @ SDCC – 2014
This episode was so, so, so near and dear to my heart! It was going to be my NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER Magnum Opus. I had originally planned to do a 3-episode series all based on my adventures at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC).
When I got the green light from my executive producer, Donna Greer, to go to the San Diego Comic-Con it was like I had hit the jackpot. I had pitched a bunch of show ideas, which I thought were pretty inexpensive and easy to pull off; I also added SDCC in for laughs never thinking she would go for it. But she did! In fact, that was the only pitch she accepted—she said that was the most doable one, go figure!
Anyway, my mind went into overdrive as to how I was going to produce this show. SDCC is a 5-day mega event (4 full days and a 1 preview night). There was literally an infinite amount of possibilities with regards to doing a show there. And even more doing a NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER show!
My show had a lot of scripted stories that complemented the reality-based stuff like movie reviews and real-life sci-fi/fantasy adventures. There was a sub-plot brewing that my character, Nick (obviously) gets transported into my version of the Mirror Universe (think: Star Trek’s Mirror Universe but without the violence). Also, I was being stalked by a crazy fan Susie Prince (played by Emmy Kuperschmid) who was bent on stealing me away from my fictitious scientist wife Katie (played by Katie Lewis and not my real wife who is Sue Howland).
Anyway, figuring out how to mesh the two (the fictional stories and the real-world adventures at SDCC) was an extreme challenge.
So the way I approached it was the way I always approach a project: with writing (a teleplay in this case).
I wrote the following script that included footage to be shot for the scripted “Nick in the Mirror Universe/Susie Prince pursuit” story-line; as well as, trying to envision all of the amazing things that I would see and experience at SDCC. Also, trying to do movie reviews while out there (particularly the 2014 Godzilla), and what ultimately became The Renegade Panel.
The Renegade Panel was originally going to be an actual SDCC panel that I put in for way in advance. It was going to be called D-I-Y Sci-Fi, and it was going to include myself as an indie sci-fi show producer and author; my buddies Dan Thron, David Bryant, and Benjamin Hansford as indie movie makers, VFX artists, and writers; and finally David Patrick Turner (whom I met at the 2013 SDCC) as an indie comic book and graphic artist. Between the five of us, we had thousands of followers on social media and would have done an amazing official panel as SDCC 2014.
However, it didn’t happen. The reason it didn’t happen (and I state this in The Renegade Panel) was because of its “indie” nature. Despite appearances, SDCC is a very corporate and traditionally-bound media event. They like traditionally published authors, studio movie directors, and established traditionally published comic book artists. Oh they allow independent artists to have tables and exhibit booths on the convention floor but very rarely are they doing panels in the conference rooms above.
I worked tirelessly to get the SDCC organizers to approve my panel. I even went there myself before the convention started to meet with their programs manager and make my case. An easy case because there were panel cancellations that we could have fit right into.
I felt very slighted by the whole experience—and a bit demoralized. It was unfair.
But then something wonderful happened!
Dan and Dave!
My two best friends in the whole world (mentioned above) came to my aid! They drove down from Los Angeles and to meet up with me in San Diego. We partied the night before, then the next day we (along with my cameraman Dan Hallissey) went to the convention center, took over at table at a nearby Starbucks outdoor patio, and shot The Renegade Panel.
The resulting video (which you can watch above) was awesome!
In fact, I think it came out better than if we had just shot a traditional Q&A audience-driven panel discussion.
I made it a point to edit the heck out of that video as I’ve documented in its production notes.
Now the rest of the convention was a cavalcade of happenings after happenings.
We even recruited fans like Chuck Hoster and Ric Meyers to act in the show’s scripted parts!
And, after the convention we shot more footage of all the Mirror Universe stuff, which included an insane scene of Susie Prince forcing me to marry her!
Yeah, it was crazy!
However, that is all footage no one will ever see—except for me.
Several things happened to derail the 3-episode series.
The Renegade Panel was the only episode produced, which took months to edit and used up all of my available resources given to me by Dedham Television.
And worst of all, when we got back from California and looked at the convention footage (after we shot the Mirror Universe scenes) a tragedy occurred: the sound for most of the footage was ruined by a bad microphone cable!!!
I was crushed by this! Hours and hours of irreplaceable footage destroyed by snaps, crackles, and pops! Devastating!
This happened to the footage that was shot only at the convention itself, which thankfully did not include the footage to The Renegade Panel (we used lavaliere mics for that).
So when I edited The Renegade Panel, I used soundless clips from the overall convention footage in montages throughout the video.
Anyway, that was almost four years ago now (at the time of this page update) and I still haven’t gotten over it!
Regardless, here is the shooting script, which hopefully will give you a sense of how the other episodes NSFC @ SDCC 2014 would have gone: The Renegade Panel, The SDCC 2014 Convention Coverage, and a special NSFC Update! – Mirror Universe episode that would be a broken out sub-story between SDCC2014 and the Mirror Universe. Like the other NSFC scripts, they are written in a particular format for broadcast video production (like network TV teleplays but tweaked for the smaller indie scale on which they are produced).
Sadly, only The Renegade Panel survives.
And the show got cancelled shortly after The Renegade Panel was broadcast.
However, what I learned about show and video production (writing, directing, editing, shooting, producing, casting, set design, makeup, stage management, budgeting, scheduling, and acting) would become invaluable skills and experience for the rest of my career.