Friday, June 3, 2016

Peanut Butter and Brains: A Video Experiment


I've had the pleasure of working with author Joe McGee on some of my stories. He's helped me fix the problem spots and learn how to craft a more solid picture book. He teaches writing classes at two college/universities, so he knows his stuff, as evident is his super fun picture book, Peanut Butter and Brains. 

My kids and I decided to bite off an ambitious project and make a trailer of his book. We enlisted the help of some friends to flesh out the zombie herd a bit more. My son wrote and played the song. My youngest daughter did the narration, and my oldest girl did the makeup and helped me with the storyboard. First the video, then what I learned from making it:

  • Video isn't hard to make, but it takes time to do it right: Thanks to Katie Davis' Video Idiot Bootcamp class, I learned to de-mystify the art of video making. 
  • Storyboard first: Yes! Write out a detailed storyboard of what will be said and what footage you'll need. It saved us so much time.
  • Our video is not an effective trailer: We put too much detail into this video to make it effective as a trailer. We left out a lot of the middle, so the hopefully it will do it's job in interesting the viewer in the book, but next time, I'm capping it at 50 seconds or less and leaving out more details, especially the ending. 
  • Working with kids is hard: Yet another reason to keep the videos short!
  • Making videos helped me be a better writer: The storyboarding process forced me to write out an arc, just like I would in a picture book. The editing process also helped me see what needed to be cut and why. 

I did get permission from Joe to release this video to the public, so I hope you all enjoy it and learn something from it as well. 

And thanks to Joe for being an awesome writer, mentor and friend. 

Have a great week!


  1. This sounds adorable! I love zombies, so yes, adorable!

    1. These zombies are pretty darn cute, I must say. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Oh so adorably wicked... Lovely work from the Dew Itt Studios! They really do it.

  3. This is wonderful, Johnell! You and your kids did an amazing job! I know so many kids who would love this book. Now I want a pb&j sandwich! :-)

    1. :). Thanks. I hope you got to enjoy a nice gooey delicious PB&J.