Exploring different types of storytellers
Exploring different types of storytellers
There're so many ways you can tell a good story. When you've shot audio, video, and perhaps stills, you don't have to limit yourself to a single approach. To appreciate your options, let's review different types of stories from the storyteller's point of view. You may find yourself drawn to more than one storyteller category and that's a good thing. For example, in the timeline we have clips that put together represent a small documentary. Well, a documentarian's job is to observe and capture something of interest, a person, place or thing.
Let's take a look and see if they did a good job. (Clip Playing) So far we've seen what seems to be a tiny coffee tree, coffee beans growing, maturing, people picking them, hulling and then roasting the beans. Let's see if the story continues on track to where we think it may go.
(Clip Playing) The documentarian didn't disappoint. In a few short clips, in just under 30 seconds, the documentarian created a story about coffee without anyone speaking to the camera, with no narration, nothing but the camera pointed to action and then combining clips in a particular order, the documentarian told us a story because they had a beginning, a middle and an end and they showed us something of interest.
Now, a videographer is a type of documentarian. They document specific events such as weddings or other celebrations. Let's look at another project. In this project you'll see similar clips of the coffee making, growing, roasting, and so on, but you'll see some audio clips beneath them. Now, if a historian or a researcher is part of your project, or a project writer, you might find some interesting facts about this particular group of coffee growers. Where are they from? How did they come together? What do we know about them? In this particular project, actor Ed O'Neill reads the narration.
Let's take a listen to how the narration impacts this group of clips. (Audio Playing) Narrator: Neither despite nor disease can destroy the seed of strongly held hope, But to transform the kernel into the flower, To cause peace and development to blossom in a place where they had become strangers, That is a labor of idealism and commitment. And when it yields fruit, it spreads with joyful enthusiasm.
Diana Weynand: Wow! This voice over, this narration brings a certain depth to these clips. Now we're talking about something bigger. I'm not sure exactly what but my curiosity is piqued by adding this layer of information. So, a documentary could be very simple and it can grow in complexity depending on the layers and the voices that you add to the project. Now, a photojournalist might go to the same place and shoot individual images of people and what they do.
Look at this picture of this man working, picking beans, he's smiling, he's joyful. So, what if you had perhaps a newspaper reporter, they often record their interviews on an audio recorder and maybe just record some natural sound. If you combine that with these photos and still images you might have a very, very interesting story; even as interesting as the video and that's because sometimes video goes by so fast, using stills can slow down a story and capture a poignant moment.
If you combine them with music you end up with a nice music video; you've got a different kind of story. Let's look at another project. This project contains two clips. Each clip is of a man named Paul. Now, a news reporter or a TV journalist, their job is to answer the five W's: who, what, why, when and where. Like historians, they might do some research on the subject, but it's more typically on current affairs and because they often use interview footage they create talking heads or sound bites, you'll need to cover some of those with B-roll cutaways.
But let's take a listen to Paul's first clip to see if we get an idea of how that information could tie in to the coffee growers that we've been learning about. (Clip Playing) Paul: And so what was the risk? There was no risk. It was clear. It was clear that all the pieces of the puzzle were there if you focus on people. If you focus on product, then the risk was incredible, the risk was a seventy five thousand dollar risk. Diana Weynand: Well, interesting information. Now, we bring the aspect of business into what these coffee growers are doing and clearly at this point we see that it could be a huge risk to become involved and we don't know yet if Paul has been involved.
So, from a storytelling point of view this little sound bite might be what the news reporter needed to lay a foundation of the story. It's going to be a big risk. Are you going to do it or not? It's a nice setup for what's to come. And let's take a listen to what's going to come and see what Paul decides to do. (Clip Playing) Paul: You spend 36 years practicing, you know, and then all of a sudden, there it is.
And you don't even have to wonder about whether you're taking a risk, you just know that the universe said, this is it. Are you ready? Diana Weynand: Okay, Paul just settled any doubt you may have about becoming involved. Clearly, becoming involved with these coffee growers was the right thing for Paul to do, and not only was it an easy decision, it's something he's very passionate about and this single clip shows us that emotion. So, the juxtaposition of these two clips sets us up and then pays it off by sharing that emotion with us.
Now, if you're a screenwriter, you might hear this great response from Paul and decide to write a fictional story about a person, a coffee purchaser in the States who gets involved with a group of coffee growers in Uganda, which is where these folks are from. Or you could tell a story of how this woman and this man fell in love but it was difficult because their families were from two different religious backgrounds, and you can use a hybrid approach where you allowed different people to tell different parts of the story.
And no matter what hat you wear as a storyteller, stay open to the different ways you can tell your story and make sure to include a beginning, middle and end.
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