The Complete Guide to Shooting The Perfect Mother’s Day Video


Until Mother's Day!

Ah, Mother’s Day! Breakfast in bed of burnt toast and coffee made with hot tap water (“We aren’t allowed to use the stove.”) Macaroni-art “I love You Mom” cards. Perhaps a meal at Mom’s favorite restaurant–say, Chuck E. Cheese. The day is loaded with great material that can become memorable video. Video you’ll treasure, and that you can also use 15 - 20 years from now in that mandatory embarrassing wedding video. This free guide is intended to help you create that Video.


Tips for Shooting Your Video:

Find the Story:
“Mother’s Day 2023” isn’t a story. Stories are about people and action. “Shaniqua and Kitain surprise Mom with a new Puppy” is a story.  “The kids make breakfast for Mom” is a story. “Taking Mom to a movie” is a story. Each one of these stories calls for a different point of view when shooting. Think a little bit about what the big Mother’s Day story is going to be in your family, and your video will be that much stronger.

Interview your kids:
We see interviews on TV all the time for a reason:  They work.  They work especially well at capturing the precious moments of childhood. You’re only 6 once.  Start before the big day and ask them to show you what they’re preparing, how Mommy’s going to like it, how they came up with it as an idea, and if it’s a surprise or not. Interrupt as little as possible & you’ll be amazed at what you get.

Shoot at their level:
We tend to hold the video camera at eye level if we’re looking through a viewfinder or chest level if we’re looking at a screen.  Instead, get down to kid level and shoot at their height.  Stay close.  Suddenly you’ll be in their world, and everything will look different.

Interview Mom:
Moms don’t often get to be the stars, and they have a lot to say– especially about their kids.  And especially after the surprise/emotional impact/disaster that is Mother’s Day. Interview mom about what motherhood means to her and how her life has changed. Your kids may not appreciate it now but 30 years from now, they’ll pull out a video of their mom talking to the camera with gratitude for the guy who shot it.

Focus On Faces :
Holiday videos are about the faces of the people you love. We show all our emotions with our eyes, our mouths and the fine muscles around them. If you miss the faces, you miss the feelings of Mother’s Day. You’ll also miss the really important memories.

Kids grow– they’ll never be this age again. Come to think of it, neither will you. This is a moment in time you want to capture, and if you miss the faces, you miss the moment.  If you chose an outdoor activity that your mother loves, such as hiking, or playing with pets, try and film each family member participating in the activity. Try and capture close-ups of your mother's face as she enjoys the moment. Use a variety of camera angles to create a dynamic and interesting video.

Shoot First, Fix Later
Which incident is more likely to be remembered in your family? The time Holland came to dinner when you called her the first time, or the time when she was 6 and so proud of knowing how to spell that she wrote “Hapy Mther Dya” on the wall of the living room with a crayon? Exactly. Which is why, unless there is danger of bodily harm, please let the camera roll when oatmeal comes bubbling out of the microwave, your son blurts out the surprise destination accidentally, or the new puppy pees on the living room rug. You’ll have plenty of time to clean up after you’ve captured the memory.


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Planning Your Video & Interviews

Some people like to plan a shoot days in advance, and some people like to dive in. If you’re a planner, feel free to write notes. Divers can ponder in the shower the night before. But this is always true: thinking about your video ahead of time makes it better.

Here are some thought starters:

How to Manage Your Time & Shots:

Use Your Story to Plan the Shoot
A great video idea gets even better if you think about the story ahead of time. A story has a beginning, middle and end. One easy way to think of story that covers most Mother’s Days is to structure your video as “Planning”, “The Moment”, and “the Reaction”

For example, If you and the kids are prepping a great surprise gift, the “Planning” part of the story is your beginning. It starts before Mother’s Day (maybe not long before if you forget it’s Mother’s Day until Thursday but still…)

Start early and shoot the kids suggesting gift ideas and going to the store. Or maybe your video starts at 5am, when your 8 year-old gets up to make breakfast for his mom. The key here isn’t that you have to get shots ahead of time. It’s that you think about whether or not you want shots ahead of time to make your video great.

“The Moment” is where the gift is given, the breakfast is served, or you arrive at the park. For this you’re in documentary mode, capturing the real reactions (and lots of faces!) But here too think about what’s likely to happen. How long is the walk carrying a tray of breakfast from kitchen to bedroom, and how will you shoot that? Where is Mom sitting to receive her finger painting? Where will the limo pull up to take her to her spa day? (Never done this? Step up your game, people.)

“The Reaction” might be Mom wearing the cool party hat Shawn made in day care. Or interviews with the kids. Or the kids interviewing Mom. Anything to get a great ending with all the emotion of a terrific Mothers Day.

Extra Credit Options
This story structure isn’t the only one that works on Mothers’ Day. You could, for example, interview Mom’s mother, intercut it with photos and video from family history, and make the video itself your gift. Or do a short movie with the kids playing you and Mom. There are millions of ways to do a Mother’s Day video, limited only by how much time and effort you want to invest.

Potential Interview Questions:

“Do you think Mommy will be surprised?” Is a yes or no question your shy 4-year-old can answer with a nod. But ask her to “Tell me about what you’re making for Mommy” and all kinds of interesting answers emerge. Keep your questions loose, be ready to have a discussion, and kids of any age will give you great answers. If you need ideas to get started, try some of these:

  1. Tell me about what you’re doing for Mothers Day–
  2. Tell me about what you’re doing right now.
  3. What’s Mothers Day for, anyway?
  4. What is the best advice your mom has ever given you?
  5. What is the first memory of your mom?
  6. What is your favorite food that your mom cooks?
  7. What makes your mom a great role model?
  8. What is your favorite thing to do with your mom?
  9. What is the most challenging thing your mom has ever done for you?
  10. What is one thing you want to say to your mom on Mother's Day?
  11. What is one thing you've learned from your mom?
  12. What does your mom say all the time?
  13. What does she mean?
  14. What is one thing you want to say to your mom on Mother’s Day?

Example Shot List

A Shot List is just that– notes you make to remind you of things you want to shoot for to help tell your story. See note about Planners and Divers above. Here are some suggestions to get you started:


  1. Interview the kids about what’s going to happen
  2. Establishing shots of where the action takes place
  3. Shopping, and the decision process
  4. Closeups of things you buy
  5. Making cards: Closeups and the big wide shot showing the mess
  6. Wrapping presents: closeups of ribbons and folding, etc.
  7. Cooking and other prep


  1. Follow shot: Bringing the gifts or the breakfast
  2. Presentation: Closeup reaction from Mom
  3. Closeup reaction of the kids to Mom’s reaction
  4. Mom reading the cards or messages from her family members.
  5. Interview with Mom about her gift/cards/breakfast/now messy house.


  1. Close-ups of Mom’s face when she thinks you aren’t looking
  2. Interviews with the kids on how things went
  3. Interview with Mom about how she feels about her kids
  4. Group hug or other great closing shot of the family all together, sharing a hug or a special moment.

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