THE MAGIC OF STORYTELLING
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
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.
It binds us.
It takes us on a journey.
It inspires action.
It provides understanding.
It educates and informs.
It offers hope.
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, and release.
Act One – Capture their attention introducing the setting, the characters, the tone, and foreshadowing the conflict.
Act Two – Hold that attention with a problem, conflict, or challenge needing resolution, allowing the character to grow or rise to the occasion.
Act Three - The effort or action, rising to the challenge, providing that resolution or release.
Connecting on an emotional level, utilizing a character or situation most can relate with, helps the viewer adjust expectations and lowers 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:
The tone of narration
Movement of an actor or the camera.
Application of music and sound effects.
Use of animation, text, and graphics.
The application of color and hue.
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, and every frame should be carefully crafted to weave the overall fabric of your story.
Storytelling provides a common language.
Ingrained in the human condition, we crave understanding of who we are, where we come from, and how we got here. We thrive on inspiration and 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. To that end, 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 storytelling offers the greatest chance for success with any production.
Written by Tony Knoss