Since the dawn of time, storytelling has been an essential aspect of human development. From the pictographs of cave dwellers to epic feature films, it documents who we are at that point in our evolution. Our hopes, dreams and desires, our moral and social code. Applying thoughtful storytelling to any production will keep the viewer engaged, but it’s not simply about the who, what, why, where and when.
The Art of Story
Strong storytelling takes us on a journey, with a clear beginning, middle and end. This journey is known as the story or narrative arc. It should be strong, simple and clear. It can be told in 30 seconds, 3 minutes, or 3 hours… but always contains the same elements; catch, hold, release.
Connecting on an emotional level, utilizing a character or situation most can relate with, helps the viewer adjust expectation and lower our natural defense. We’re pre-wired to anticipate the sales pitch or hesitate when viewing clearly self-serving content. Viewers don’t want to be told what to do, they want to be entertained. Telling a strong, relatable story does that.
The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” holds true. Through the magical visual medium of film and video, at an average 24 pictures per second, we can share volumes.
Story can also be conveyed with:
Added emphasis can be applied with proper timing, utilizing a dramatic pause or even silence, the music crescendo, a sound effect hit, fast paced edits, or slow dissolves. Every layer, every element, every frame should be carefully crafted to weave the overall fabric of story.
Storytelling Provides a Common Language
Engrained in the human condition, we crave understanding of who we are, where we come from, how we got here. We thrive on inspiration, hope, that vision of what could be and what will become. Storytelling provides that spark, illuminating pathways to new ideas, concepts and direction. Whatever story one wishes to share, it all starts with an idea. What do you wish to share, and how do you get there?
It’s Not About Where You’re Going, but How You Get There
The amazing and continued advancements in technology used to create each storytelling element, provides higher quality at lower price points. We’re at the tipping point where cost of entry makes the tools available to everyone, but having the experience, skill and talent to create an effective and powerful production, requires investment with a proven expert.
Beyond the technical aspects of quality production, the proper investment of time, effort and talent to craft a story which flows without apparent effort, is essential. Not every story needs to be a stellar Hollywood production. The best stories take the lead, eliminating the need to shock and awe, wow and pizzazz, with fancy camera work, flashy graphics, or music to distract. When baking a cake, you don’t start with the frosting. The best productions find a way to apply all the fancy tools as the icing, in support of the storytelling.
At the end of the day, investing in the storytelling offers the greatest chance for success with any production.