The world needs powerful stories. They’re not just glam bits and pieces that make a business look more premium. While that’s one of the outcomes (and one of the only ones most filmmakers focus on), there is so much more benefits that story can bring. It can inspire action, motivate staff, increase awareness and even turn up profit.
All of this, of course, will happen when we tell stories that are powerful. But what happens when our subjects or clients are boring? It’s great when we’re making films for social enterprises or fast-rising startups. But what if your story revolves around a micorbiologist, engineer or agriculture venture? How do you draw out the moving from the mundane?
We must all believe is that there is a powerful story behind everything- even the most seemingly boring storylines. We’ve seen that to be true in many of our own works when we simply believe there is a story worth telling in every corner. And becoming a master storyteller requires that you become an expert at finding the power behind the boring. Here are a few tips to get started with that.
When we keep asking ourselves the“what?” questions, we beat around a bush that has been beat over and over again before. We should instead be asking the question “why?” People are inspired by a deep sense of purpose. When you tell people about your purpose, you connect them to the deeper and more human aspect of your brand. It’s not just about “business as usual.” It’s about changing lives, making things better or changing your community or even the world! Why do you do what you do?
Don’t just tell people about a medical product that cures illness. Tell your audience why you want to do it- that you want to bring a quality of life to others, bring relief to families or return joy to the lives of loved ones. Don’t just focus on what your characters do. Talk about why they do it.
Often there are details that may seem mundane, but just need to be told from a different angle. So that startup founder has a boring professional journey. But have you looked into the family struggles and personal convictions that drove those professional decisions? The most valuable asset of a storyteller is not the lens. It’s the angle. What’s the fresh perspective you can take on the story your working on now?
When making films for organizations, it’s always tempting to just go straight to the CEO or the leader of the movement, thinking that’s solely where the story lies. And that’s true most of the time. But powerful stories are also found in those who haven’t been given a voice. Not that CEOs are boring, but probably people have heard his or her size dozens of times before.
It’s time to give a voice to those who have never been given the platform. Talk to the entry-level staff, the grandmother who has patronised the product for twenty years going unnoticed or the factory worker that’s seen all that the company has gone through but no one has noticed. You’ll be surprised where else you’ll find powerful stories.
Aside from digging in unfamiliar territory, storytellers also need to make the habit of digging down deep. I once heard this interesting parallel about how diamond hunters work. The most successful ones make a habit of digging the deepest ditches. Why? Because the most beautiful and thus most expensive diamonds are found in the deepest trenches!
How deep do you dig when finding your story? How in depth are your pre-production and your research? Patrick Moreau of Muse Storytelling shares that at least fifty per cent of your filmmaking should be spent on pre-production. Take time to prepare, to research and to dig. Get those shovels dirty and dented!
Another question storytellers get stuck with is “what happened?” Another question we should be asking is “how did you feel about the situation?” Listening to a story is not just an intellectual experience. It’s an emotional one too. Thus, telling stories needs to be an emotional experience as well. Get your lens on the moments where your character is filled with joy, enamoured with sadness or even overwhelmed with anger. Don’t just talk about what happened. Talk about how people responded.
Director & Cinematographer, Fisch Rasy's love of storytelling inspires him to create powerful films. Sometimes dad duties spill over onto onset, where he's been known to give the kids a real hands on experience...