Storytelling Techniques


The Art of Filmmaking and Editing


Lesson Info

Storytelling Techniques

I want to talk about some storytelling techniques and how there's different ways we can arrange a story and build a story to invoke different emotion. So we saw the structure of a story, right? Beginning, middle, climax, end. Who said it had to be in that order, though? Ah, so telling something in a different order can change the perception of how a story is, how you feel a story. And sometimes, I always say, when you have the footage, once you've shot the story, once you've captured all the footage, now the editor has control over where the story, how it's gonna unfold and what parts go where. And this really is gonna be an interesting part, because it's not about what happened, it's about the story you want to tell. And that's always very important to understand. Because just like with the Photoshop thing, what happened there is a dude sat at a computer and taught a girl Photoshop for two and a half hours. But that's not the story I told. I put, I dressed it up, put a story around it...

, right? So storytelling, like we had the slide up before, the viewer's role is to put the story together and understand it, and it's the filmmaker's role to give them the proper pieces in the proper order to lead them to the conclusion you want them to reach. And it's like connecting the dots. This is Jeff's connecting the dots fish, right? Is that what we're about to make? It's beautiful, isn't it? Right, so you can connect the dots this way. We've all played this game, right? Okay, and when you play this game, what happens? Connect one, two, three, four, and you go in order, right? But you can be a little creative, put a little depth in the fish. This is how Jeff would do it, and then this is how I would it. That's how Ross would do it. (laughter) I like to be different. Yeah. Right, artsy. So now I want to get to five storytelling techniques, and there's a million ways to tell a story. It's infinite. because the art of it is how you look at it and see it, but we wanted to give you five templates. And what's gonna happen here is we're gonna show you the beginning of a wedding film, and we're gonna show you that same footage in all of these different stories. Then we're gonna take the footage and re-edit it. We're gonna shoot anything different, we're just gonna re-edit it in a different order, and it's gonna tell a completely different story. And that's a concept you have to understand, because as you're an editor, you can edit a story, look at it, and say it doesn't work. That's happened to me a million times, where we look it it and say, oh, nope, try again. And you can use these templates, as I like to call them; we gave them little names. And you can try these with footage, and you can make different stories with them. Yeah, like Ross said, you can tell a story in an infinite number of ways, but if you can start out with a few ideas, we've given you five here and probably a lot more, and then when you are analyzing and discussing and creating your story, either if it's a project you're doing with yourself or doing with a client, a web commercial, a birth announcement, even a wedding, you'll have five things that you can already consider. And what's gonna make this the most interesting? And I think a lot of you out there, when you saw The Chess Piece, you saw the videographer version, camera on a tripod, and then you saw the filmmaker version, it was really eye-opening. We found so many people in our program as we went throughout the US and Canada, were really struck by the, wow, how different this is. I think you're gonna have the same reaction when you see, when you take exactly the same footage and you recut it in five different ways and how it changes the story and changes the way things feel. So let's go in and talk about those. You want this? Yeah, you can give that to me. So let's talk about linear stories. So it's telling a story from beginning to end, as it happened. And with each one of these, we're gonna let you watch it, and then we're gonna discuss when to use linear, what the highlights of each of these are, and when it's a good idea to use this as a particular technique. So let's watch; this is the intro to one of our wedding films. This isn't the exact intro-- No. What we're gonna do is we're gonna start simple, beginning to end, and we're gonna work our way up into more complex ways of telling the story. And the very last one you see is the one that was actually used on the wedding film. So let's go ahead and watch this, and then we'll talk about it. (gentle instrumental music) (weeping) Sorry. Thank you for making our day even more meaningful, our circle of love even more complete. (sniffs) Hey Ro, so I just witnessed the best beach session slash slideshow ever. My face hurts because I laughed so hard. It truly is a testament to how much I love you. I am so excited to marry you. I hope you like this gift. I picked these things out because I thought you'd look beautiful wearing them. We made it! I love you so much, Shawn. Oh, it's so pretty! So does that work, did it work for you guys? It was all right. Exactly, perfectly put; it was all right. You know exactly what happens, right? He buys the gift, then he gives her the gift. And she opens it. And really, at the end of the day, what's interesting about that is it is okay, and my criticism of that would be if I was critiquing that, it would be what Jeff said. He buys the gift and she opens it; those are the only two things that happened, so why do we need to watch it for a minute and 47 seconds for that to happen? We could have watched it in 30 seconds and seen that happen. So that's an important thing because when you change the way a story unfolds, time becomes irrelevant. And we've seen this in television and movies, that time can be played with so much. You see, when they're trying to diffuse the bomb in a certain movie, an it's like the 10-second countdown, but it takes like 13 minutes in the movie for than 10 seconds to happen. Time is slowed down, because the filmmaker controls time. But like in the last episode of Breaking Bad, spoiler alert, they did that time lapse where it was like four months' worth of action happening in like 30 seconds. So time becomes no longer a factor because you control time. So when do you wanna use linear? Well, sometimes reality is just that good, and there's no reason for you to dress up the story. Remember, the whole point of using different storytelling techniques, using shot sequencing, is to heighten reality, make it better. In this case, I don't think we would use this, as we talked about, as our way of doing it because it was a little slow, it dragged on a little bit. But sometimes reality is that good. And the best way for a particular situation could be to tell it from beginning to end, but you've gotta make that determination as the filmmaker. With all of these, we like to talk about how you play with the audience and create a level of intrigue or interest in your film. In this case, the best time to use something that's linear is where the story itself is so intriguing, there's not much you have to do to dress it up. So if you find that your film maybe isn't quite so intriguing told linearly, then we'd use another technique to do that. Okay, so let's move on to-- Backwards. Backwards. So this is where you tell a story by showing the ending first, then you work your way all the way back up to the beginning. Let's look at the exact same footage that we just saw, but arranged in such a way that we're using the backwards technique. (gentle instrumental music) (weeping) Sorry. Thank you for making our day even more meaningful, our circle of love even more complete. (sniffs) Hey Ro, so I just witnessed the best beach session slash slideshow ever. My face hurts because I laughed so hard. It truly is a testament to how much I love you. I am so excited to marry you. I hope you like this gift. I picked these things out because I thought you'd look beautiful wearing them. We made it! I love you so much, Shawn. Oh, it's so pretty! (gentle instrumental music) So, did that work? You think yes, you you think no, you think yes. Partially. Partially; I'm gonna side on the side of no. I don't think that works, and here's why. When you're telling a backwards story, it's not about the destination; it's about the journey. So essentially, in that film, the interest and the story should have been his journey to buying the gift, because we spoiled the point in the beginning. So the point can't be what's inside the box anymore. Now, had he robbed the jewelry store at gunpoint, that would have been amazing. That would have been how you tell that story. That's the time you tell it backwards; that's right. Going back on the Lost reference again, you can tell my bitterness is oozing from me-- Because what? The Lost thing is they revealed this big reveal at the end of the show that they built up for six years, and then people were disappointed; people were let down. But had they gave us the point in the beginning of the show and really Lost was all about the journey of how you got there, that's the genius of the show, and that's why the second time around you watch it you appreciate it a little more, 'cause you already know that the ending's not going to fulfill you. You appreciate the journey. So when you're doing a backwards story, when that light bulb should go off for telling it backwards, you gotta think to yourself, it's not about the point, the obvious point of the story. it's about the journey of getting to the point that would make that story interesting. Yeah, that became a film about the gift-buying, which of course in this context wasn't nearly as interesting as the gift-opening, but we can now heighten it even more. The teaser, okay: the teaser technique is where you show the beginning of the climax, cut the film before the climax ends or happens, start at the beginning, and then work your way back up to the climax. So let's go ahead and watch this, talk about when it's effective to use, see if we can't create something a little bit more interesting from the footage we've already seen. Oh, it's so pretty! (sniffs) Oh! (gentle instrumental music) (weeping) Sorry. Thank you for making our day even more meaningful, our circle of love even more complete. (sniffs) Hey Ro, so I just witnessed the best beach session slash slideshow ever. My face hurts because I laughed so hard. It truly is a testament to how much I love you. I am so excited to marry you. I hope you like this gift. I picked these things out because I thought you'd look beautiful wearing them. We made it! I love you so much, Shawn. Oh, it's so pretty! So at the beginning of that, even though you'd seen it two times and knew what she was getting, when she goes, "Oh, it's so pretty," and then it cuts to him walking the dog and then to buy it and everything, didn't you kind of feel a sense of anticipation? What is she gonna be getting? What is she gonna be getting? That's how a teaser is effective and helps to create more intrigue in your story. Did that work? That one works, that one works; it works well. Do any of you watch the show Breaking Bad? Okay, so I always like to make this reference, because it's got the best teaser I've ever seen in my life. So if you haven't seen Breaking Bad, this is gonna be a plug for it. Watch the pilot of Breaking Bad, and it starts out with him looking into a handycam, and he's saying goodbye to his family. And you have no idea what's going on, but for some reason, you want to keep watching. And then that's it, boom, you're locked into the greatest show ever made. (laughter) And it happens that quickly, and I found it so amazing. I've watched that pilot a hundred times, because the idea of a teaser is to take something from a pinnacle point right before the climax happens, put it out of context in the beginning. So what happens when it's out of context? It's something that's supposed to be intense, like her reaction to the gift. Of course, it's a wedding, so it doesn't have the same intensity as Breaking Bad, obviously. I'm not comparing, but you're supposed to take something where she says, "Oh my god, it's so pretty," and your first reaction should be, "What is so pretty?" That's the idea. The moment you ask that question in your mind, you're going to finish out the film. Whether you like it or not, whether you think it's boring or not boring, you're gonna want to know what's in that box. Just like when he looks into that camera in Breaking Bad, you're like, "What is he doing?" And you're just, that's it! You're watching the show, and then once you've made it through, the whole idea is if you show the beginning of a climax in the beginning of a film or something out of context, and you spark that curiosity, the whole rest of the film, if you noticed, it was linear, and it got back to that point. And what happens psychologically in your mind to a viewer is when you see the beginning of that climax happen again for the second time, it's relief. It's like you're rewarding yourself. So you're saying, "Here it is!" It's a double climax. It's the climax of the film you're watching, but it's also a climax for you in your mind, because you're finally gonna put what you saw in the beginning in context and see what it actually means. It's almost worth re-watching certain things again to see how they unfold. How many of you think that was more effective that just the linear technique? Yeah, so keep this in mind, because this is what we're trying to do. We're trying to lead you into ideas and ways to take a film and create a more interesting story from exactly what you've already done. Like Ross filmed what he had filmed, right? If you don't understand storytelling, you may just string that together in a linear fashion, and you'll have something presentable. But one change, just putting a little teaser on the end, heightened the level of intrigue and interest in the film. Now let's get into some even more complex ways of doing this; let's talk about into the sub story. We like to call this the vehicle technique because it's kind of two stories in one, but the secondary story acts as a vehicle to move the main story from point A to point B. So everything you're gonna see in here has been contained in the others, but we're gonna arrange things in such a way that the sub story, the card, will end up moving the story forward to understand what happens to the overall climax. So let's watch this, then we'll talk about it. (gentle instrumental music) (weeping) Sorry. Thank you for making our day even more meaningful, our circle of love even more complete. (sniffs) Hey Ro, so I just witnessed the best beach session slash slideshow ever. My face hurts because I laughed so hard. It truly is a testament to how much I love you. I am so excited to marry you. I hope you like this gift. I picked these things out because I thought you'd look beautiful wearing them. We made it! I love you so much, Shawn. Oh, it's so pretty! So did that work? Better than the teaser, worse than the teaser? I liked the teaser better. Liked the teaser better, liked the teaser better? Yeah, I liked not seeing the jewelry until the final reveal. Okay, what did you notice about that one? There was other stuff-- That was different than the other three, besides the extra footage? (laughter) I don't know; I felt a little bit like there was more purpose to showing the shots of him getting the card. Obviously, it narratively explained it, but it made it more emotional to have her reading the card while he's picking it out. Right, anyone? It still seemed linear, just both of the stories were being done at the same time. It's two linears. Yeah. Time: it was half the length, maybe even a third of the length as all the other ones. That was only 37 seconds, 47 seconds, I think it was, and what the sort of sub story idea was is that the letter comes underneath, and then everything else gets built on top it. So you say something, you show show it. Show, don't tell. Or in this case, we're showing and telling simultaneously. We're giving you a point and showing the visual that goes with it, which condensed the time. It wasn't gift-buying, gift-opening, okay? It was card-reading, and then everything that she talks about was in there, and then you see when she starts to open the card, you show him buying it. When she's reading it, you show him looking down at it, sort of the concept of him thinking about it. And these are the visual storytelling things that we're trying to do. And for me, it's too short. For me, the reason why I don't like that as much as I like the teaser or the next one we're about to do, which is the one that we ended up actually using, is because it doesn't give you enough time to sort of get that emotional impact, had it been the first time and not the fourth time you watched it. You need time to sort of process what's going on, and that's why I always say the whole standup comedy analogy is it's really important to understand how much time the viewer needs to react to certain things, and that just comes with doing it enough and seeing. It's a great, great educational exercise to make a film and put people in front of it and watch them watch it and see how they react, see how long the reactions are. And the more you do that, the more you're gonna get a sense of viewers' reactions, and then you'll be able to determine length, so-- Yes? I just thought I would share a bit of what the Internet's saying. So we have Callie, excuse me if I'm saying your name wrong, "Now it's a wedding highlight film "instead of a separate short film," was her opinion. "So nice, but not a different version of the same footage, "so it's hard to compare." Chris Hanlon said he preferred the teaser. Seven Blue Rose said that he still prefers the backward so far, and Clement, for you, "I like the first few seconds of the sub, "but the teaser was the way to go." So it's interesting to see everyone's different opinions. And everyone's gonna have a different opinion. So also when you're taking opinions of filmmaking, you have to take them all with a grain of salt, because I always say to Jeff, if you show somebody a film, 50 different people are gonna have 50 different reactions. They're gonna give 50 different comments. So it's important to listen to all of them and take them in and see how to incorporate them, but also stay true to-- I would be very interested, though, to know what everybody feels, so if you all could gauge this, after seeing the final one. Because I think, obviously, this last one that we're about to show really brings everything home. You make the most out of your footage this way, and this is inner cutting. That's where you have multiple stories happening simultaneously, and you're cutting back and forth between them. They all move towards a common climax. So it constantly is switching your attention and kind of having you put on hold what you were watching while you watch something else, and then that it put on hold and then you watch something else. It really is an effective way to create intrigue and interest in your film. Let's watch this, done with the inner cutting technique. (gentle instrumental music) (weeping) Sorry. Thank you for making our day even more meaningful, our circle of love even more complete. (sniffs) Hey Ro, so I just witnessed the best beach session slash slideshow ever. My face hurts because I laughed so hard. It truly is a testament to how much I love you. I am so excited to marry you. I hope you like this gift. I picked these things out because I thought you'd look beautiful wearing them. We made it! I love you so much, Shawn. (gentle instrumental music) Oh, it's so pretty! Does that work? Is that the best one? Yes. Here's what's happening there, okay, and really I find this so interesting because the gift-buying and the wrapping of the gift is absolutely, 100 percent meaningless. It is irrelevant. If I pull every single shot of him buying that gift and wrapping the present, the story is going to be the exact same thing. But here's what happens, and why I said the sub story one was too short, is because once you start to properly inner cut him wrapping the gift with her opening it and like the moment he sticks his finger into the bow, she's pulling the wrapping paper off, it builds the anticipation for what's inside of the gift. And you're taking something; you're taking two sort of mediocre moments, as we saw with the linear and the backwards, that them by themselves just in order, they're okay, but they're not what that is. And the reason why that works is because you're taking two mediocre moments, fusing them together to draw out the climax of what's inside the gift. So you're giving meaningless footage emotional impact by putting it in a certain spot, if that makes sense. And you see this a lot in movies, where scenes will inner cut back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And the idea of that is they are probably originally shot linear; they're definitely shot linear. And they're longer; they're usually longer. And they pull pieces out, the pieces that they need to sort of build those moments. So it's when you take two or more moments and combine them into one moment, like I said. And then a lot of what I think inner cutting is inspired by two mediocre moments fused into one really great moment. And then you want to alternate stories, keeping the viewer sort of, I like to say keeping them on their toes. Because when you're inner cutting, it's not obvious. Linear you can just kind of sit back and just absorb, but when you're inner cutting, you have to, it bounces so much that you have to follow along, which keeps the viewer more engaged, which is very important. And then it makes continuity less relevant. So where she is, if you go back and watch that film again, all of them actually, what you'll notice is that the actual, if you in your mind play out how long it takes to open a present and how long it takes to wrap a present, that's not real time. So when we cut away from him wrapping the gift, so much time passes from when we go back, that where he is in the process does not register with you as a viewer. So you don't say, "Well, wait a minute, "that last clip we just went to was eight seconds, "and he just wrapped that entire present in eight seconds? "That doesn't make any sense." You never said that to yourself in your mind. So that's the idea, is that the continuity of time, as we've been saying, is irrelevant. You can pass through time. And then, of course, intrigue is created by seeing how the stories intersect with each other. Now, when you use these different techniques to heighten the awareness of your story, you're gonna find that you have a lot more power and control over how interesting what you're telling is when you start to take footage, use your wide, medium, closeup, and B-roll, but go between different parts in a story. If you'll notice in the final version, there were several shots of the couple together on the street, things like this, and that allows you to go from one part of the story to the other and connect the dots by using B-roll and then use your wide, medium, and closeup. Let's talk a little the wide, medium, closeup. Do you notice when she's reading the letter, what kind of shot is used on her? [Audience Members] Closeup. Why? That's the effective one. It's emotional. You think that was an accident? Actually it was an accident. No, I'm joking. (laughing) And when she's sitting down getting the gift, there's a wide, so you have the whole context of the room and everything. So the point that I want to make here is that when we tell stories, when we film stories, we can always make something more effective through editing. I have come to Ross a number of times where I've filmed something myself, and I've put it together in a linear way, and I'm left very strongly with this feeling that it's so literal, right? I'm watching this, and it's so literal. And that's not interesting. We had a slide earlier that said play games with the viewer. It's a game between the filmmaker and a viewer. Give them mysteries and clues. When we just give something to somebody straight, it's not nearly as interesting as it is if we are asking people to be participatory, participants in the film. And simply by editing in a different way and using a different storytelling technique in the order in which you're showing things, you can make them a lot more of a participant in your film instead of just an idle viewer. Yeah, and he made the point about the closeup of her reading the letter, and part of that is, yes, I want to show the closeup of her reading because that's where the emotion happens, but where it really rings true is when he's buying the card. So I have a shot from outside the window of him picking the card; you can clearly see the action. When she starts to read the card, I show that closeup shot of him. You can't really see what he's doing with his hands. All you see is an intense look from him. And me, as the filmmaker, I'm trying, because I'm arranging the clips in such a way, I'm essentially visually telling you that when she's reading that card and you look at his face, facial expression, he's thinking about what she's reading. And that's sort of designed to make you feel that way. Same thing for when it's a wide shot of the, it's a two wide shot of the jeweler and then him, and then it sort of rack focuses to him, and he's got that kind of plain expression on his face, and it's a profile shot of him. It goes from a medium shot, two shot of them, to a closeup of him without actually changing viewpoints. And that's where it really gets tricky, is you can sort of change the perception of a shot in mid shot. And because I put it where it's supposed to go in the story as far as what she's saying, I hit the emotional impact right as it goes to the closeup of him. So it's not just shot selection of what you shoot, but also shot selection and shot placement in editing. When I had a project and we did a tour earlier last year, it's called the Creative Design Tour, Judy host. She was here on Creative Live just a couple weeks ago. And when we were gonna do the trailer for that, Ross wasn't able to be involved because he had some other projects he was working on, so we went ahead and filmed that. I went ahead and filmed that with our assistant, Ben, and it was just very literal. When Ross got ahold of the footage, he changed the order of it so much-- Wait, wait, wait. You're leaving out a big part of the story; come on, man. (laughter) Go ahead, go ahead. So I get this phone call at, I want to say it was like midnight. So I was watching Celtics on DVR delay. By the way, did any of you bring any Celtics tickets as a bribe? No? No door prizes for you. (laughter) So I get this phone call and Jeff says, "We filmed a trailer today for the Creative." And that's my favorite thing to edit is trailers. I love to edit trailers. So he calls me and he says, "Listen, we came up with a story. "We liked it, we filmed it, we edited it, "and it's exactly what we had in mind. "It's just not good." Seriously. And, "Why, why is it not good?" And then after, I had to give him a little moment to say, "Now you have a little bit of appreciation "for what happens on the editing board, don't you?" I said, "All right, send me the footage." Throw it on the server, it was about 40 gigs, so it copied overnight, and then I got ahold of it. And I felt like, and it's because Jeff doesn't do it as often as I do, and our assistant doesn't do it as often as I do, it felt what I see when I see a student film, and it's showing everything literal. It was too literal. If I had a shot where I'm here, and part of the film was me walking over to this chair and sitting down, it would be in real time instead of shooting a shot from the front and back. And how I would make that happen is one, two, and then I would cut to a shot from the front, and I'd be over here; I would teleport, right? The person who taught me how to edit, everyone teleported everywhere. Everyone walked into the shot, out of the shot, no one walked anywhere. Any time you saw walking in his film, it was like a miracle. I'm like, how do people get anywhere? And what I started to learn from that was, here's a big thing about storytelling: Humans do know things. So if I am showing you a shot of me walking to this chair, and I take two steps this way, and I cut to another shot here and it's two steps that way, nobody's asking what happened here, right? No one cares. So if I'm showing that, it's just dragging. Because the walk has no symbolism to it, as opposed to a bride walking down the aisle, which does have emotional impact and does have symbolism. That walk, you highlight. Now, do you show every step? No, absolutely not, because it would take too long. It takes, what, an average of 30 seconds to walk down the aisle because they're doing it all slow and graceful. You have to speed that up as much as you possibly can without ripping away the emotional impact. So what I did with his trailer, I didn't change the story. I couldn't; I couldn't change the footage that was shot. I couldn't do that. All I did was cut things down and move them around a little bit out of order from what they were to make something, and then I put my edgy music on it, which is a signature of mine, and then it was significantly better. I came up with a word to use to describe this process of making things more interesting. We've all heard of the word interactive, okay, and a film's not truly an interactive experience, because it's not like you're there and they are there and the two of you are going together. I have a little play on words I use to make something inner-active, inner-active. And what I mean by that is, if you can get the viewer to be paying attention and active internally in his mind, in her heart, so that you're thinking and feeling and searching, and therefore engaged in the film, then you've succeeded. So whenever you have your footage, and you're sitting down and you're ready to start telling the story, you want to create an inner-active experience where the user is doing as much work as possible to keep them engaged, not such much work that they can't figure it out. It has to make sense to them. They have to be rewarded step by step by step, so they keep on being engaged. But you want them to be as active as possible internally. It should not be a passive experience for your viewer to watch your film. It should be an inner-active experience. Does that make sense to everybody? So we want to show this slide and introduce this concept. This is something that Ross and I are both very passionate about: out of order. Where this started was, you saw the Photoshop. I don't know why it's coming up in black and white. But you saw the Photoshop Everyone trailer. The concept started there with making education interesting, because we believe that if you're entertained, you're going to absorb the information and retain it a lot better than if you're just sitting there. You know how much I skipped school in high school? (scoffs) I remember going into the principal's office. He's like, "You've skipped 32 days "of the 45-day marking period." "All right, I'll make it all up." Education can sometimes be boring, so I always try to find a way to make it interesting. So after we did the Photoshop Everyone, comedy is not necessarily my genre of choice. I'm a drama guy. So when we came up with this idea of out of order, I said, "Jeff, let's do the editing thing "like we did with Photoshop, but drama style." So basically what I did was I wrote a script, and we filmed a feature-length film about the invention of digitized editing, starting in 1990 and going all the way to present day. And basically my concept was, I could sit in a room and I could teach you editing all day and give you everything you want to know, or I can make a two-hour feature film and show you why certain elements of editing do exist and how to use them. And you watch the story unfold, and it's out of order. So where the concept of out of order, the play on words, come from is lots of times when you're editing, you're editing things out of order, as you can see. It's linear and non-linear. Non-linear will be out of order. You film everything out of order. So I would film scene 35, and then the next day I'd film scene one. And it doesn't matter because I put them together later on. You shoot shots out of order. I'll shoot shots based on where the sun is in the sky, not what's in the script. I'll shoot shots based on when does this actor have to leave and go to his next shoot, not what's in the script. In the film you just saw, you saw her looking the card, where you could actually see the card while she was reading it, right? She's reading it; it cuts to her holding the card as if she is holding it, reading it, and then it cuts back to her face. When do you think that was shot? When it was all said and done. Ross says, "Can you please hold the card up?" Yeah, you don't have to get that in real time. You just, after she's reading it, I lock in on her and I say, "Hold that card up." A lot of the shots are like that. So the idea of out of order, when you think of it, what do you think of out of order? You think that something's broken, right? We literally have a goal to change the worldwide meaning of out of order. (laughter) We literally have a goal to change the worldwide meaning of out of orders, so when people think of it, they think about storytelling and filmmaking. How do we make something the most effective story that we can? By presenting it out of order. What is the filmmaking process? It's done out of order. We really want people to hear the words out of order and start thinking about the process of storytelling, the process of creating and filming a story, and then creating it on the editing board. Because once it sinks in, then you've opened yourself up to an entire new world of opportunity to make not just compelling products for your business, but things that actually change lives and improve the world. You guys have all seen the movie Pulp Fiction, right? Somewhere out there I'm sure in the universe is a version of Pulp Fiction in order. (laughter) It won't be nearly as good. It won't be nearly as good, and the reason why it works is because certain scenes are out of order and it's three stories happening at the same time, and then three climaxes happen. So what's really cool about doing things out of order is you can change where certain-- Like as you saw with the inner cutting and just anything that's not linear, is non-linear essentially, you can change where certain climaxes happen because films don't always have just one climax. They can have multiple climaxes, many climaxes, which we'll get to in the next session. What's going on with our viewers there? We got questions or out of order comments? We always have questions, always have questions. Awesome, bring 'em on. All right, what have we got? We got Chris Hanlon from New Zealand. He asked, "Do you always know which technique "you will use beforehand, or do you shoot with story in mind "and try editing in a couple different ways "to find the most effective one?" Great question, and the answer is when I'm doing a live event, no, I don't always know what sort of technique I'm gonna use, because, again, those are templates, so it's not limited to those five. I will go in with the story in mind, and then when I get to the editing board, like I was explaining to Jeff the other night. Once I get control of it on the editing board, it's like a whole new thing for me, because now I have all the control. I have these puzzle pieces, and how I arrange the puzzle is going to vary. It doesn't happen often where I have to redo it and try different things. I'll sort of see, because you have a plan of the story in mind, and then you go and you capture it, and then things alter, things evolve in the moment. And you sort of get the idea of where you're gonna go while you're filming it. If I had done the birth announcement without Ross, I would have filmed the mother reading her letter. I would have filmed the daughter reading her letter. And I probably would have edited it so that the mother read her letter to the daughter, and then the daughter read her letter to the baby. If you'll recall back from watching that film, the fact that they're inner cut, that they're intersecting, you're constantly going back and forth between the mother reading to daughter, the daughter reading to the baby, back to the mother, makes that thing 10 million times more interesting. The fact that it's done out of order, and that's why we want everybody to think in those terms. Because we tried to show you with some relatively simple footage with a wedding how different things could be. But if you'll start thinking about what we just presented to you and applying it to all the films that we've showed you throughout the day, you really can see how much putting things out of order, like the wedding film, those people didn't say those things in that order. Ross, when he cut it, would try to find connecting points between a sentence from one person to another sentence to another person, and connect those things together. And you have people coming in and out in a completely different way in which it was presented at the wedding, but it becomes much more interesting because of that. Another question? Yep, we do. So we have a question from Fashion TV in Singapore, who's a regular here, who says, "Have we failed as a filmmaker if someone "needs to re-watch to get the story? "How do we measure or ensure that our audience gets it? "How do you ensure that your audience does not get lost "in what we want to tell, and how we get them to re-watch "because they want to understand the story better?" So there's a lot in there. Great, actually this is a great concept. And I was gonna actually talk about this when we were talking about non-linear. No, if they have to re-watch it, you have not failed. It depends on why they're re-watching it, though, will determine failure. If they're re-watching it for, "Whoa, my mind is blown, "and I didn't get it; I need to back and re-watch it"-- I want to go back and re-watch it. Yeah, I want to go back and re-watch it. Like there's a movie called Memento. I'm sure we've all heard of it. Most people have to go back and re-watch that movie. Not because it's bad, but because it's so complex that when the point comes full circle, all you're doing is thinking back to the beginning of how it all connects, and you have to re-watch it. It's like a physical need to re-watch it. Now, if someone's like, "I have no idea "what the hell just happened; I gotta see that again," chances are if they have the reaction, they probably won't even want to re-watch it anyway. So if they are taking the time to watch it again, then usually it's probably a success, because you've piqued some sort of interest to make them press play again. Or else, if it was that horrible to watch it the first time, why would they subject themselves to it for the second time? Yeah, I would say that for the kinds of films that we're making and making for our clients, if they feel the need to re-watch it to understand something, then that's not a good sign. When you want them to re-watch it is when they were so emotionally moved by what they saw that they want to feel that again. So really, if you can make your story help them to connect with something in their own life of meaning to them, then they'll watch it again and again. The wedding film that Ross put together for my wedding, my daughter, for like the first year, was like, "Let me watch Mommy and Daddy in Italy! "Let me watch!" She would just keep watching it and watching it and watching it and watching it because it made her happy. Like that's when you want people coming back watching a film, so that they can experience those emotions over and over and over again. Another question? We do; Sharp Image says, "Is there enough original story..." So this is kind of tying back to the wedding, tying weddings in with what we're talking about now, but "Is there enough original story in a wedding "to make that look interesting as an imaginative "or imaginary story?" Absolutely. Absolutely-- Which you're talking about with your wedding. Yeah, every single person on this planet is so unique and so different. And whether it's the way that they met, whether it's what their interests are, whether it's why they fell in love, whether it's because of some sort of adversity or tragedy in their life that they overcame or overcame together, there are an infinite number of ways to take the human experience and the drama that's present in all of our lives and find a way to create something meaningful from that. Especially in a wedding-type film when there's a couple, and there's two dynamics there and then the infinite number of possibilities that are present in there. Getting to know your client, getting to know who they are and what they like, sitting down with them, asking questions, conducting an interview type process, is something that we do frequently with somebody who we're going to film to ask them, to draw out from them what it is that's important, how they met, so that we know then how to film things in such a way or how to help create moments in such way that draw that story out. I like to say this, like we were talking about in the pre-show, about me playing poker for a living, and the two things that playing poker and filmmaking have in common is you will never run into the same situation two times. Like there is no next time. Everything happens one time, because there's so many variables in the filmmaking process. There's so much that changes and happens. Even if you're re-shooting a different take in a commercial, the elements are gonna be different. Everything's gonna be different. So that's why it's so awesome, is because you can take that experience into your next experience, but you're not gonna relive the same experience. So there's always a way to change it. There's always a way to tell the story differently and capture emotion or whatever-- There's a great wedding film that Ross and I saw from our friends at United Wedding down in Virginia, and the bride and groom, one of them loved Oreo cookies and the other one loved milk. And so what these guys did is they filmed him going to the grocery store buying Oreo cookies, and then at a separate time filmed her going to the grocery store buying milk, and they opened the wedding film this way, with you have Oreos and milk. You don't really see the characters, you just know that they're coming and doing this. And then as they tell the wedding stories, they keep on intersecting Oreos and milk, and then and the very end of the film, the wedding film, the bridge and groom are sitting down together in a beautiful, lush field, and they walk up and each hand the Oreos and the milk to each other. Something that simple. And the story becomes about the Oreos and the milk and not the wedding. And that's one of the points I'm making about wedding films, is that the marriage itself is secondary. It's the personality of the characters that matter. I think we can take one more question, and then we can go to break. I love that, the Oreo and the milk stories. That's fantastic. Yeah, United Weddings, look them up on the internet. It's a great, great film. I just wanted to expand on what you were saying earlier about questioning and interacting with your clients. Are we gonna be covering any of that later in this course? We actually don't, because we didn't really put a business section into this 'cause there's so much to learn about storytelling and the actual process of filming things, so maybe another Creative Live experience sometime. Excellent, love that. So just to set expectations for everyone, we do have one more question, and then we can talk about-- We have a break. Yeah, and then, we're gonna go to break. So this one, it kind of picks up on what you were talking about working with your clients, and Job Plan AOP said, "I work mainly with "scripts and actors; your videos have a wonderful sense "of naturalness from the subjects. "Can you share any tips on how you get good performances," quote on quote, "from non-actors or your clients." From non-actors? Yeah, from your clients. Oh, that's a good question. So I come from the world he comes from, so I'm usually working with scripts and professional actors. And the best thing to do with somebody who is in front of the camera who's not used to being in front of the camera is to just try to get them to ignore the camera, and that is the best way. A lot of the times, I'm uncomfortable in front the camera. Maybe you can tell; maybe you can't tell. But it's good for me as a director and a filmmaker to know what it's like to be in front of a camera, so that you can convey that to people who are in front of the camera every day and who are never in front of the camera. And a lot of times, like I was just making a documentary, and I was in a series of interviews, and I'm a tough interviewer. So I'm very, I put the clamps on when I'm interviewing. So what I did with every single person who I interviewed was I turned the camera on, I rolled, I had the lights, and I said, "Let's just do a preliminary interview." And they don't know it's recording. And then we do the interview, and then they say, "All right, well, I think I'm comfortable. "I think I'm ready." And then I say, "Well, it's done." It's like the shot when you're a five-year-old. It's like, "When am I gonna get the shot?" It's already over. So the idea is to just make them try to forget the camera is there. And a lot of what we'll do is because Ross knows that we need this shot and this shot and this shot to shot sequence a wide, medium, and closeup, one over the shoulder and this angle, when they see us coming in there and saying, "You just do your thing. "I'm gonna make a shot from here, a shot from here, a shot from here so I can build the story," they feel very comfortable and relaxed knowing that whatever it is that we're gonna do, we're gonna piece it together. And Ross will frequently say, "Look, don't even worry about what you're gonna do "or what you're gonna say, because what you're gonna see "when it's all said and done is nothing like "what's going on right now." And so telling them that you're taking control of the storytelling process, and if there's a mistake, if they're nervous, if they don't say something right, they're gonna be able to literally, we're gonna be able to get rid of that on editing and still make that story compelling, there's no pressure on them. They don't have to perform. And that helps people be a lot more natural.

Class Description

Have you ever thought about using your talents, training and equipment to design moving images to tell a story? This film workshop is your opportunity to learn how to become a visual storyteller with Jeff Medford and Ross Hockrow. Whether you're a photographer or an aspiring filmmaker, you will come out of this class with all of the skills to produce web commercials, wedding, birth, family and event films.

Discover what you'll need for your camera bag, lighting, how to shoot a conversation - all during a live shoot! You'll learn how to create a story throughout the editing process. This film workshop is 3 days of non-stop information, all of which will allow you to expand your business and increase your profits.