The Kellie Leitch video

In late February, 2017, Kellie Leitch’s campaign released a videotape that swiftly went viral and became the prime example of how not to produce a video to promote anyone or any thing. Over eight minutes, Leitch looked like a spaced-out weird and wired flower child musing on the alignment of the planets in the Trappist 1 System.

Apparently, she was trying to tell us what Canadian values are but succeeded only in making herself the laughing stock of YouTube and the rest of social media. But, wait, was she the major culprit here?

Without speaking with the creators of this video, we can only guess as to what was in their minds but we can make pretty good guesses since the likelihoods are so obvious to any producer.  Leitch was led by her producer to create a piece that would make her look thoughtful and credible. To do this, he most likely said, ‘you should speak to the camera, then look away as though you are considering carefully your next thought.’

As well, the producer used a common trick to make editing the piece easier and more seamless to the viewer. Instead of trying to capture Leitch giving an unbroken speech, the producer varied the focal length of the camera lens, zooming in and out. In this way, Leitch could pronounce one or two sentences or phrases at a time rather than trying to memorize an entire speech or even a paragraph at a time. By connecting the bits together, with a few quick dissolves, the editor disguised the breaks in her speech as simply changes of perspective as though the piece were shot by several cameras.

Unfortunately for Leitch, the combination of changes in focal length and long looks away from the camera during the musing portions of the video made her look like a dipsomaniac instead of a candidate for high political office. Her own, strange, facial expressions certainly didn’t help – her mistake was to buy into and to exaggerate the notion of looking deeply thoughtful while educating the masses. Clearly she has no idea of how to appear to be thinking.

Not only should Leitch have taken her own deep and thoughtful look at what the producer was telling her, she should have done what too few people in this situation do:

  1. Use common sense to drive video production
  2. Avoid ‘artsy’ suggestions to shoot ‘creative’ video
  3. Study the rough cut to determine if a reshoot is necessary
  4. Observe the editing session to assess and redirect, if necessary, the intent of the producer and editor
  5. Assess the fine cut to ensure it looks normal and effective, not unusual and potentially damaging
  6. Test the final version before release by showing it to uninvolved critics
  7. Be prepared to withdraw a video that doesn’t immediately get the desired feedback.

The bottom line of the Leitch video, which ignored all of these check points, is that her performance and, consequently her vision, was distinctly odd and not all in line with the values of good video production.