Story is King
Over the past while we’ve been receiving a slew of emails, tweets, comments, and courier pigeons asking us questions about filmmaking. So much so that we’ve decided to start a little Q&A series on the blog. We love that people are inspired by our work and want to learn more, so we thought we’d bring the conversation here to the blog.
Recently we received this email from Alex…
My name is Alex, and it’s been so exciting stalking your website and blog as of late. Not to start off creepy, but your work is very inspiring and empowering to me who is trying to jump in fully within the industry myself. I have been doing weddings and any other sort of commercial work I can scavenge along the way for about a year now. I recently (like yesterday) left my job, and hoping to follow my passion within this industry (film/video, storytelling, weddings, etc.) I’ve taught myself everything (which isn’t much). I learn from other film companies (such as yourselves) and latch onto bits and pieces to help grow and challenge myself in my skills. I caught onto Stillmotion awhile back, and they have mentioned some of your stuff in their blogs, and that’s how I stumbled upon your work.
My wife and I live in Tennessee, and we got married this past May. I’m 24, and ambitious about seeking this new gift I have found, or think I have found. I know I have a lot to learn, but I wanted to introduce myself to you to see if you had any tips or thoughts on how you started and what set yourselves apart from the rest. I do see you put a lot of your skills in not only finding the story, but determining “who” it is that is involved in the story and what makes them who they are. Very awesome. I would love to connect better with my clients, and from the product of your work, you guys breathe that in every film.
We replied to Alex’s email, but this has been something we’ve wanted to expand on in a post on for a while now. So thank you Alex for getting us going! :)
When we were first getting started, we were passionate and eager to make compelling and exciting films. We wanted to move people emotionally, to change how they looked at the world, and to leave a lasting impression. We quickly realized that that doesn’t just mean cool shots and an upbeat song. Story had always been important to us, but in the beginning it wasn’t what we put first. It wasn’t until going to film school that it really sunk in that Story is king. It’s one thing to say, but another to truly realize it.
On our site we talk about the importance of story and how it should always come first. A lot of people don’t know exactly what this means. Story is often thrown around as a general filmmaking and marketing term, but to us it is much more. A story is made up many different parts such as plot, narrative, structure, rising/falling action, and of course character. Character is a huge one for us. Here’s what Martin Scorsese has to say about character…
“The films that I constantly revisited or saw repeatedly held up longer for me over the years not because of plot but because of character, and a very different approach to story.”
When we approach a story, be it a wedding or a commercial project, we want to find out about the main “characters” that will be in our story. For weddings, this is often but not always only the Bride + Groom. These are real people. No not just “Man in suit” and “Woman in dress”, but real people. We want the films we make to be unique to the couple and the only way you can truly do that is to get to know them. An example of this is Robyn + Joe. We don’t live very close to Robyn + Joe, in fact we’re not even in the same Province, but we didn’t let that get in the way of us learning as much as possible about them. Through hanging out with them on Skype, emailing, and meeting them in person the day before the wedding, we went into the shoot having a clear vision for the story and the characters that would drive it. We find this to be KEY in telling a unique and personal story. Like Alex kindly said in his email “…determining ‘who’ it is that is involved in the story and what makes them who they are.”
The important thing to remember as a storyteller is that YOU are the one telling the story. Your perspective is unique. No one else has it. A common mistake is going online, seeing what’s popular and then mimicking that in your films. It’s OK to be inspired by what you see others doing but don’t imitate, innovate! Push yourself. Find your own vision and follow it. These are things we often remind ourselves of.
Another mistake can be getting sucked into all the latest gear and equipment and saying to yourself, “Oh man, if I only had this camera then I would make great films!”. Sorry but that is not even close to true. Story is king. Not the gear. If you’re a storyteller, go out and tell your story. You don’t need a RED, just grab an iPhone or whatever you can get your hands on and get to it!
Apologies for the super long post, but this is something we’re super passionate about and have been wanting to talk about for a long time :) Have thoughts on this post or questions for a future Q+A? We’d love it if you would leave a comment below.
PS Give us a follow on Instagram for more BTS photos! @hellotmrw