“I have a passion for storytelling.”
That’s the first thing they all love to tell you about: of the passion. For storytelling. Not of masterful post-production workflows, or successfully, routinely managing a lean team of individual creatives toward the expert level execution of a dynamic and intricately planned vision for valued clientele. Not of focus, or depth-of-field, or exhaustive immersion into an environment to adequately portray a sense of time and place. And, certainly not of shot composition, or flawless audio capture. Sure, those all might be selling points somewhere in the mix, but first and foremost, it’s always about the… storytelling?
Yes, I get it. It is an innocuous and easy to digest marketing phrase used to quickly portray a sense of duty and dedication to one's craft. All of those technical details and capabilities play a big part in telling a story, but they are hard to describe in three words or less. In evoking the emotion necessary to properly tell the tale, to convey the message, a talented storyteller must be a master of delivery, more-so than an administrator of linear bullet-points, facts, and figures. A story well told is the sum of many parts, but the passion for storytelling, the ubiquitous catch-all catch-phrase that somehow is supposed to sum all of that up has become so pervasive on every blog, ‘About’ page, and personal bio of every level of video production professional and wannabe of the last few years, and it has become exhausting.
It’s okay. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just a hip phrase of our creative era. A lot of the greatest multimedia production houses tout their “passion for storytelling.” But…
To the average freelancer the end goal is rarely Schindler’s List. The end goal is usually, “sixty second social media promo for an industrial storage warehouse and their fair, affordable rates.”
Storytelling is easy. It is a formula. Why do almost all feature films look and feel the same? Successful, mainstream feature films, stage plays and TV, and especially viral videos resonate with the public because they usually follow a very specific, very well defined formula. Magic, creativity, and individuality have virtually nothing to do with any measurable level of success in any performance or motion picture media script, or storyline format. From the most heady, intellectual, three hour cinematic masterpiece, to the latest and greatest viral videos, or the most basic local coffee shop promo video uploaded to Vimeo: a successful video is based on a series of well worn, well proven formulas.