*Editor’s Note: I wrote this piece in February while in the midst of creating a video for my Winter 2010 storytelling class. I saved it to drafts, unsure if I wanted to share. I share it now for posterity.
For the most part, when I talk or think about the creative process, I’m talking or thinking about writing. I have a process as an editor, but that process is largely dictated by the types of shows I work on and what someone else wants – the producer, the writer, the network.
I’ve been taking a class on storytelling this quarter (winter ’10), which in my opinion has left much to be desired. The final project for this class is a short video on a subject of our choice. In a flash of uncharacteristic business sense, I decided to propose an idea to my employer for a video about the company. They were thrilled with the initial proposal and later the idea I came up with. So now I have no choice but to do a good job, despite the fact that my interest in this class has plummeted.
In my head, I was already set with the process of making this video. Shoot some talking heads, exteriors of the building, and collect some old photos or footage as contrast. Standard stuff.
I asked one of the videographers at my work for a little help with the shooting of the project. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get some professional advice on a subject where I could really use it. He came by to talk to me about the project and I got more than I bargained for in the conversation. I learned something and I gained a new respect for my workplace.
I shared my “no storyboard” thoughts with this person, as working in reality television has taught me that preproduction is important but I never got the sense that a full story could be created within that process, because much depends upon what happens in the moment. I listened – actually, intentionally, and without bias – to his explanation of how and why to storyboard. He spoke with the wisdom of his 33 years experience at the station and as a cameraman and storyteller. He knew what was involved in the process of telling a video story and I’ve never heard a camera person talk about a story in that way before. I’ve never heard anyone I worked with talk about storytelling in that way before.
This made me realize that the questions I ask myself when writing are the same questions I can ask in video storytelling, and it makes me WANT to learn to be a better outliner. I don’t doubt the process I have is workable, but to really learn and grow and become better, this is an important step.
It’s clear to me that, due to some disappointments over the past few quarters, I’ve gone on autopilot. Just skating through. Since I am now officially invested, at the very least in not embarrassing myself in front of people with whom I work, it’s nice to have an opportunity to take things up a notch.