The videos are done

I just finished two days of shooting the video lessons that will accompany my book Organic Wesley, which will be published sometime later this year. That was certainly a new experience for me.

The videos were the publisher’s idea. While the book can stand on its own of course, the videos will facilitate group studies and we’re hoping they’ll be resources that congregations, small groups, book clubs, etc. will find helpful.

Each of the ten videos will be 10-15 minutes long and will correspond to the ten chapters in the book.  At the end of each video I suggest questions and discussion topics. I’d like to think they will stimulate good conversation.

Just as it was difficult to edit my original manuscript, to convert it from something intended for an academic audience to something suitable for a lay audience, it was difficult to condense the contents of each chapter to a 10-15 minute talk.  To do that I had to leave out a lot of the content that will be in the book, but I suppose it makes sense that the book would take on the topics in more depth than the study group videos.

The first video will be an introduction of me and (more importantly) a brief introduction to the rise of the industrial food system and the emergence of the countervailing food movement. The second video discusses the life and legacy of John Wesley.  There are videos corresponding to the chapters on nutritious food, moderation/overconsumption, animal welfare, organic vs. chemical-based agriculture, globalization and local food economies, potential tension between the food movement and Wesleyan principles, recovery of a Wesleyan food ethic, and practical suggestions for living the ethic.  The final chapter/video, in which I suggest specific practical steps for transitioning to healthier and more ethical food choices, was not in the original manuscript and was added at the editor’s suggestion.  That chapter makes it a much better book for a lay audience I think and I enjoyed writing it.

What is the Wesleyan food ethic? Well you’d have to read the book to appreciate it fully, but riffing on Michael Pollan I reduce it to: “Eat ethically-sourced nutritious food, in moderation.”

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather so we did most of the shoots outside. Eight of the ten videos were shot here on our farm.  We did one at the little country church I grew up in and we filmed most of the lesson on the local food movement at a friend’s farm.  We also shot a short scene in a local grocery store. That scene was kinda fun. We shot it with an iphone camera.  I felt a little like an investigative journalist.

Even though public speaking comes easy to me and even though I’ve spent much of my life speaking in courtrooms, these videos were challenging.  I had scripted what I wanted to say, which in hindsight might not have been the best way to go.  I could easily have done these more extemporaneously, but sometimes, while trying to recall my outline, I stumbled over words or lost my train of though.  I didn’t use a teleprompter, but I had notes nearby. Usually they didn’t help me though, since I can no longer read without glasses.  But the video wizard tells me they’ll be able to clean it all up and make it all look good.  I certainly have some new-found respect for people who do this sort of thing regularly.

And now, thankfully, I can turn my attention back to tending the farm.

There is a lot to be done. We’re entering a season when there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. And that makes me glad.

20 comments on “The videos are done

  1. Joanna says:

    Congratulations on getting this far in the project. It must be exciting to see your work being translated from the academic to the everyday situations and for others to have faith in it being a useful resource for people.

    I always feel slightly guilty at writing out my presentations and reading from those, but I do know that I would wander off topic and in 15 minutes you cannot afford to do that. I have seen well known speakers having to curtail what they want to say to fit into the time allotted. In a bizarre way it encourages me when I hear that others have to do something similar and helps me to know it is not just me. I do have one advantage over many speakers, as I used to read books to children and so reading from printed text (or off my ipad as in the last case) is not an issue. I don’t have the problems of monotone delivery by reading the text. Mind you I will see how that really translates in practice, as apparently the presentations will be on YouTube eventually – scary.


    • Bill says:

      It is exciting, but also somewhat worrisome. While I like the thought that it might end up being read by more than just a handful of academic-types, I worry about whether it will translate well. I guess there’s nothing lost if it turns out to be a flop, but I’m so passionate about the subject that I’d hate to see the first person to take it on blow it (especially if I’m that person!).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, sounds like your book and videos are a continuation of your goal to educate and teach others about healthy food. The combination of videos and written material is a great way to bring discussion groups together that have an interest in learning about the food they eat and the food they can grow. It would indeed be almost impossible for me as I don’t like and avoid like the plague speaking in front of people. I have done and can do it but will avoid as much as possible. My educating is on a one to one basis. There’s more time to answer questions and talk about things of interest. But then my realm of influence is much smaller than yours. We both have our spot in the world for food education. I used to think that I would never want to be a teacher or educator but indeed I have become one but just not in an up front speaker kind of way. May God bless the work of your hands through book sales and media viewing.

    Have a great day back in the garden.


    • Bill says:

      We have tried to make education a fundamental part of what we do. I know the book will reach a limited audience, but I’m hoping that at least some of the people who read it will be led to make better food choices.

      One of the great things about the example you’re setting is that it can inspire city people to produce some of their own food. That’s less radical than quitting your job, moving to the country and taking up farming. 🙂


  3. This is a great opportunity to share your wealth of information with others on a larger scale. I’m sure the videos will turn out much better than you might think. You have a way with words and I personally am looking forward to hearing you speak them! Of course I already know I will enjoy reading the book, but to see you “in action” will be a treat. 😄
    Will you being doing any direct sales of your book and videos? I’m saving up my egg money 😉


    • Bill says:

      Aw, thanks. 🙂 I do expect to be selling them directly, as well as through the publisher. We still don’t have a definitive release date. All I’ve been told is that it will be this year.

      I’m sure the videos will be fine, even if not perfect. We shot all but one of them in one take. Once the editing begins, if there is something that can only be fixed by reshooting, then we can do that.


  4. avwalters says:

    For presentations, I write them out first. I read them aloud at least five times. Then I re-write them. Then I reduce what I want to say to talking points. Then I throw all the paper away and do the talk. That way, I’ve reinforced it in my head what I need to say and can “hear it.” If the particular points are important, I might spare my talking points (breaking the no-paper rule.)

    Congrats on the completion. I am very relieved that my editor doesn’t insist on video. (Perhaps that’s why I married him.)


    • Bill says:

      That’s sort of what I did. Originally I was just going to do talking points. But the editor had told me that the videos should be 8-10 minutes long and to be sure I was within those guidelines I dictated them using the Dragon program. Then they said it was OK to go up to 15 minutes, so I wasn’t as concerned about timing anymore. At that point I should have just thrown away the scripts. But I held onto them to use as reminders of the points I wanted to cover. I didn’t read from them but during the filming I would occasionally glance down at them to see if I’d missed anything or to help me remember a quote. The shoot that went best was one I didn’t use any notes on. The video guy says they can edit out my note-glancing or (if it’s too obvious) cover it with a farm scene (for example). He shot a lot of video around here to use for things like that. He says it’s normal for people in instructional series like this to use notes–especially given that these go for over 2 hours.

      We shot trailers too. One of the book and one for the videos. Those were relatively easy, even if it felt a little weird.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on finishing the videos and the book.
    “Eat ethically-sourced nutritious food, in moderation” sounds like a great tenet to put into practice.


    • Bill says:

      Thanks Jackie. I think so. I’m making the case that if we all applied that ethic in making our food choices, we’d not only be happier and healthier, but we’d also change the world for the better.


  6. BeeHappee says:

    Congratulations Bill, I cannot wait to see them. I had seen even best speakers struggle with recordings, that takes a lot of practice. Sounds like you had a lot of fun doing it. I am thankful for the work you are doing and happy for you! 🙂


    • Bill says:

      Thanks for the kind words Bee. 🙂

      I didn’t expect to have any trouble with the videos. I have lots of public speaking experience and can easily talk 15 minutes on these topics without any notes. The first three we shot went very easily but by number 4 I was wiped and totally botched it. We ended up taking a break then shooting it again. After that I slowed down the process, taking long breaks between each shoot, and it got much better. I think if we tried it again it would be a snap this time.


  7. shoreacres says:

    The hardest thing I ever did was edit a piece I read in the context of an NPR interview. The reading had to fit within three minutes — and not one second over. It was so interesting — I can’t remember what the word count was, but the producer told me that if I had XXX words, it would fit, given my speech patterns. He was right. I certainly learned a lot about editing. There comes a point where you can’t just keep chopping out words to get the right count — you have to begin rewriting.


    • Bill says:

      Fortunately I wasn’t under parameters that tight. Originally I was told to keep them under 10 minutes, then they went to 12 and just before we began shooting the editor told me I could go as long as 16. That helped a lot.

      But I’ve done oral arguments with very strict time requirements. When I was in high school I was a debater–also strict time requirements. In college I was a radio DJ and in those primitive times had to learn to talk right up to the beginning of the news, but not over it. And when we made a tape, we spliced actual tape. The digital technology they use today is amazing. If there is an unnatural pause while speaking, the editor can compress it and it just looks like the camera is zooming in slightly on the speaker. They can cut and paste video like we cut and paste a word document. I’m told that my fumbles and stutters will be cured.


  8. I am looking forward to seeing the results, Bill. Obviously it is a serious subject, but you have a good sense of humor. Did you use it in the book and on the videos? –Curt


    • Bill says:

      Not really. I’m serious to a fault and it’s a serious subject. But your comment makes me realize we ought to lighten it up at times. The scene in the grocery store may turn out to be somewhat humorous. Despite the fact that asparagus is in season now and grows well here, we went to the local grocery store and filmed the asparagus on sale there–it looked unappetizing and is from Peru (about 3500 miles from here). We also did a scene involving an oatmeal cookie I bought at the local country store. Me trying to pronounce the 45 ingredients (mostly chemical flavorings) in that cookie is amusing, in a disturbing way.


  9. Eager to read the book!


Leave a Reply to BeeHappee Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s