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GUEST BLOG: Hooked to the silver screen

7th May 2012 - Richard Beard


Author Richard Beard, Director of the National Academy of Writing, explains how the popularity of eBooks is making video an essential component.


Until very recently, the web was all about words. Those of us who came late to the internet, through the misfortune of being born too early, couldn't have imagined how computers would have youngsters reading and writing as if television had never existed.

Ah, those were the days. As the web spread world-wide, anyone could write a text-based blog but a short film still required most of the staff of London Weekend Television.

No longer. Even literary websites are now conceding the value of video as a promotional tool. There is a paradox here. At The National Academy of Writing we want to encourage text-based (as opposed to caption-based) reading and writing. But to attract more readers to our site we've decided to make some videos.

This is not, I think, a lack of faith in the power of the written word. Instead, it's a realization that video and screen have a relationship similar to word and page. They fit.

Our videos were produced and directed by one-man-band Ziggy Evitts, who explains that 'video is what people increasingly expect from screens. We're so keyed in to the language of images and signs that it's the quickest way to give a feel for an organization.

The Academy wanted to demonstrate our unique Masterclass, especially now the word 'Masterclass' has become vague with overuse. We've tried describing it but the best way is to see it in action: 'The style of the video immediately gives an idea of what the NAW Masterclass process is like,' Ziggy says, 'it communicates the vibe, the energy.'

NAW operates in the literary world, but like a bookshop we offer an experience that isn't limited to words on the page. The Academy has personalities and an atmosphere. This is what video communicates more immediately than text.

There's also a pragmatic consideration. Video plays better on smart-phones than text, and Cisco Systems estimates that 90% of web traffic will be driven by video by the end of 2013. The monitor on the desktop, where text was once so readable, has been superseded by video grabs on mini-screens in the street.

Remember MTV? Music has already been through this process, to the point where a song would be unimaginable without its video. The video complements the music, and the time may be right for LTV, where the video introduces the words.

Literature Television: the new gateway to the wonderful world of books.


The National Academy of Writing is a partner of Foyles bookshop. NAW runs 10-week writing courses in London, and as part of the course NAW Writer-Patrons answer questions from NAW members in the Gallery at Foyles Charing Cross. For more information, visit the NAW website. Ziggy Evitts makes videos for websites:



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