Member Amy Brandais, known as Amy the Writer, was profiled in a recent issue of MCAI's national eNews. In case you missed it here's an interesting interview with someone you should know.
Amy Brandais is a fairly recent addition to MCAI, having joined the OC/LA Chapter in 2009. An award-winning video scriptwriter, Amy believes that words heard in a video require a different writing strategy from that of words read in a brochure or on a website. "Words in a video only have one chance to make an impression, and they have to work in harmony with the onscreen visuals."
What do you do?
I'm primarily a freelance writer. I call myself a communications consultant because I don/t just write pretty words; I make sure I understand the business or communication goals and put together words in such a way as to fully support those goals.
How long have you worked in this field?
Over 20 years. I've been freelancing for the past 10 years.
What interesting twists and turns has your career taken?
I started out in marketing positions. Back in the early 90s, everyone around me was getting an MBA. I knew that wasn't the right path for me. I lived in Detroit at the time, and a colleague told me about the Master's program in Advertising at Michigan State University. I earned my Master's degree in 1995, and was accepted in the Ph.D. program, but I decided that academia was also not a path I wanted to follow.
What types of projects do you work on?
My video scripting experience includes :30 and :60 second spots; voiceover and multi-character videos; corporate communications; orientation videos; promotional and direct response (infomercial) videos; educational and how-to videos; and museum/national park visitor center videos. I also work in other media--interactive, print, etc.
How did your previous jobs prepare you for your current position?
I've always worked in marketing positions. When I moved to California, I got a job with a communications agency that had big-name clients like M&M/Mars, Kal Kan, L.A.P.D. and D.A.R.E. America. I think having those big names on my 'client experience' list helped me establish credibility when I went out on my own.
What do you like best about your job/career?
I work with a small group of regular clients who call me when they need me. I like the fact that I don't take up space in someone's office whether I'm being productive or not. But I think the best part is the trust these clients have placed in me.
In your opinion, how does technology affect our creative opportunities?
I think it opens up a lot in terms of creativity. Like, if you can imagine it, you can create it. Look at Avatar. It's only the size of the budget that limits what can be done.
What was the most rewarding project you've worked on and what made it so rewarding?
An agency I worked for produced big sales meetings for Kal Kan/Uncle Ben's. Several years in a row, I wrote all the speeches for the Kal Kan executives, creative-directed the PowerPoint AND sat behind stage to click through the slides as they read the speeches I created off the teleprompter. All of this required a tremendous amount of trust on the part of these high-level executives. Having people put their trust in me is extremely rewarding. In fact, I define success as earning the respect of people I respect.
What was the most unusual or challenging project you ever worked on?
I've written scripts for videos that are shown in national park visitors' centers. One that I worked on was supposed to make a strong, emotional connection to the viewer--not be a "What to Do in the Park" kind of thing. However, someone on the client side decided she needed to rewrite it as a "What to Do" video. It lost all its poetry in the process.
How did you handle it?
What can you do? Sometimes you just have to let clients have what they want (even if it's a bad idea).
Is there a role model or mentor who has impacted your career choices?
Not really. But over the years, I've had several good friends who've been great advisors and encouraged me to reach new heights.
What role has MCA-I played in your career? Why do you remain involved?
I joined MCA-I fairly recently--a little over a year ago--although I'd attended meetings before that. I really like the people in the OC/LA Chapter, and since video scripting is one of my favorite types of writing, I thought it made sense to be a part of the chapter.
By Pamela Rucinski
About the Interviewer: