Hello y'all! It's easier, though probably not cheaper, than you think.
You have to have a cam-corder. And mini DV's. And a tripod (I learned that the hard way). And a computer with Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier (both are video editing software)
How did you do it, you're asking? I'll tell you.
First I went to Non Profit #1, the McGlynn learning Center in the subsidized housing of Wilkes Barre Pa. It's an after school program run by the absolute nicest person in the world, Sister Miriam. She was more than happy to let me run around filming my brains out, but I hadn't brought a tripod so I set the camera on top of a pile of children's books and interviewed her, and a couple of the kids who arrived after school was out.
Unlike later participants she was not at all concerned with obtaining consent forms from the kids, since she already had them on file.
We went outside because despite being March it was warm, and nice. I filmed the kids running, and believe me, the news video photographers must have muscles of steel because my video-ing looked like I was DRUNK. Rather than an "evergreen" commercial, Sister Miriam wanted me to promote their golf tournament fundraiser. So I downloaded some pictures of the place where it's gonna be held, and she gave me some pictures of the happy participants from last year.
I even had a hard time with that, since I set the pictures up on an easel and filmed them that way. Later I found out it probably would have been easier to scan them into the computer and use the video editing program (Final Cut) for the motion. I just really feel that if you're using video, something should be MOVING.
It was at this time I started actually WATCHING commercials and stuff, to see how the pros did it. Damn, they're good. And they have fancy-dancy "motion" effects that I had yet to learn. Especially with the graphics. I started out just making them white, and they were way too big for the screen (that's when I found out how to put "wireframe" which shows you just how much room you DO have, on the viewer while editing).
Here's the final video:
You'll understand the criticisms I received...from the TV stations I was trying to get to RUN the ad. First thing, don't have someone on camera until they start to talk. If you want them on camera AFTER wards, that's fine, but if you're still doing the voiceover ("The McGlynn Center needs your help to keep serving the disadvantaged youth of Wilkes Barre, blah blah"), you can't have somebody just sitting there looking at the camera. It's creepy, even if she is a cute little girl. They also said the graphics (words) were too big. And weren't on the screen long enough. On a :30 second PSA, the phone number at least, should be on there almost the whole time. It's true, on real commercials the number (or website) takes up half the screen, plus there's somebody screaming it, plus it's on the entire time.