Storytelling and Construction (Or better yet, Constructing A Great Story)

My first journey in crafting a great story…

So I was recently commissioned to produce a video for a nonprofit organization called the Construction Industry Training Council of Washington State (CITC). This group was created to provide apprenticeship training to the Open Shop sector of the construction industry. What that means is that if an independent contractor was interested in sending its employees to get state certifications they could send them to CITC to get Journeymen-Level, State-certified training in all the different trades of construction.

This was by far the biggest project my company has ever endeavored and our single biggest client to date! With that being the case I wanted to push out something that was better than all that I have done thus far in my career. One of my biggest issues I have been running into as a filmmaker is finding Story in non-narrative works. It is very easy to pick the framing, lens or lighting setup for a film because the story is very drawn out. How do you accomplish that for a wedding, commercial or marketing video?

Enter Stillmotion.com. I found this website about 4 months ago, a month before I started this project. I read this article and downloaded the PDF. My goal with this was to attempt to really find my voice as a filmmaker. This idea of building a narrative around my work and business had never occurred to me. I used the PDF to come up with some narrative keywords for DABtek Entertainment: Beauty, Knowledge Passion & Connection. I am still working on this for myself and DABtek Entertainment but this project fell into my lap and I really wanted to focus on Connection for this project.

In my initial interview with Halene Sigmund, President of CITC, we sat and discussed all the particulars of this project and what she wanted the viewers (the 2015 CITC Graduating Class) to take away from this film. I explained to her this process I wanted to utilize to tell a better story than I have told thus far in my work. We came up with a list of keywords that we narrowed down to their Five Narrative Keywords:

#Community
#Knowledge
#Impact
#Inspire
#Success

I really attempted to structure the outline, develop the questions and pick shots that would speak to these words. I think what I wound up gathering in the field was really great material. I knew that this piece would be mostly driven by interview footage so I wanted to get really dynamic interviews. I did some research on sliders that can do a Parallaxing effect. I have seen a few interviews that have this effect and it reminded me of something that a DP that worked on The Tyra Banks Show showed me. At the right time, the little bit of movement in the interview really adds a dramatic impact to what is being said or discussed.

After much research, I decided to get a Kessler Second Shooter motion control system as this rig would serve the most utility for future use. I purchased the Second Shooter with the Stealth Slider kit. With this I was able to get some really interesting interview shots with the subject in center frame and the background moving (Parallax) and I also used it for some time lapse shots and different slider tracking shots.

About a month ago now the guys at Stillmotion released MUSE and I got it the day it came out. The little bit I was able to pick up from the Stillmotion PDF gave me great insight I feel into what I was finishing up with the CITC project. I was close to being picture locked and I was watching one of the MUSE videos which was talking about showing the audience and not telling. I immediately stopped watching the video and re-watched my edit thus far. It was all interviews back to back! No breath in between to allow B-Roll to do some storytelling. I did some readjustments and I think what I came up with is really strong. I showed the final piece to the Board of Trustees of CITC a week before the graduation and they loved it! Besides some minor tilting fixes, there were no corrections! I truly believe that the MUSE and Stillmotion PDFs help me tell a better story. Going into the production with these keywords that the client and I agreed upon really allowed me to just do what I wanted to do without any hindrance. I wish this system would have come out before I started this project. I’m certain that what I would have come up with would have been 10 times stronger!

It all is part of my story though. I am working and learning how to become a better storyteller and construct a better story. My first trial run with this process was the subject of an organization that trains people that are working and learning in the field to construct better (NAME YOUR TRADE HERE). Not only to tell their story but to inspire the audience, a class of graduating construction professionals, to go out and do great things with their new found knowledge and create a wonderful life for themselves. This is my goal with the knowledge I am acquiring in storytelling so without further ado, I present to you CITC30: The Construct of Inspiration.