Many people like to tell stories, some are good at it and some are not. The following advice is just a few pointers that can help you when you plan on telling your story. To have a compelling story you must have plot. You may have heard that word before when people talk about story and structure. You must have a plot for a story. Plots have a beginning, middle and an end.
Whether you are telling a personal story, or a business’ story you must use a beginning, middle and end to hold peoples’ interests. I am a producer of short films and like to focus on one character who can drive the story. I recently picked up the Muse Storytelling course and they teach that each character must have three traits. They should have uniqueness, complexity, and desire. These three major traits give you a head start to tell a very good story. The Muse group calls these three traits the heart. Why the heart? Well, each story should be led by a person. We relate to people more than we do dogs or cats and even robots.
It does not end there. Muse also teaches that you need a strong hook to get the audiences’ attention. I like to add my hook within the first fifteen seconds of the short film. Your character must have conflict, and they need to have overcome that conflict or are in the middle of transitioning to overcoming the conflict.
Some stories have quite a bit of people in them. I like to focus on one individual. This individual must be a strong one too. If you lead with just anybody who has not much desire, or uniqueness, then your story is dead on arrival. That is why it is important to do your homework first before you even consider pressing the record button. Sit down with your character, and talk to them about what makes them tick. Why are they so passionate about their purpose or cause? Where do they see themselves in five years? You could meet at a coffee house and just talk without cameras or notepads. It’s time to get to know one another and really build a rapport. Trust me, the more you know the better the story can be told. You are not only receiving valuable information while conversing with this individual, but you are also building a relationship. A relationship which will allow the individual to feel more comfortable with you, thus making it easier for them to share.
If you have too many characters, the audience does not have a real chance to relate to them. If you are shooting a longer film, than yes, more characters can work. However, when the film is only five-ten minutes long I would focus on one main character and maybe a helper. A helper is a character who helps drive the story. They are not as interesting as the main character, but help drive the piece.
Places are a big part of storytelling as well. If your character owns a family owned flower shop, you would not want to interview them inside a home or some random business building. You would most likely want to interview them on camera around flowers. Place your characters in their surroundings. This will make a better story and it will make it more authentic too.
I was hired to tell a story about a girl who was adopted when she was twelve. I decided to go to the house to see how and where I should shoot, but more importantly, due to the subject I wanted to build a rapport with the mom and daughter. Here it the their story.