Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ways to tell a story

I'm interested in storytelling in all it's forms.  Verbal, visual, scripted, improvised, static, kinetic, truth, fiction. Everyone has a story to tell and there are so many ways to tell it.

I've been playing around with a new app on my phone called Vine.  It's for making quick and dirty 6 second looping videos.  You can't edit them once they are recorded, you just shoot them and then post them on Vine or Twitter or Facebook. 6 seconds is not a lot of time for a video.  Much of it is pretty mundane but there are master Vine makers already who can tell a complete story in 6 seconds, or a serialized one in 6 second episodes.  They make it look easy until you try it yourself.  And yet you are so inspired by these incredible 6 second videos that you have to keep trying.

By far the best Vines are made by Adam Goldberg.  Do yourself a favor and download this app, follow Adam Goldberg, and watch his vines starting from the beginning.  Using lens filters, camera angles and sound affects, he has created a surrealist documentary of his apparent descent into obsession and madness.  6 second filmmaking at it's finest.

Steve Agee is another Vine master of a different kind.  He is the master of visual one-liners and the 6 second interview show which he calls Hollywood & Vine.  There's been a bit of crossover between Adam Goldberg and Steve Agee as the latter competes with the former for the title of best Vine maker.

The third person you should follow is James Urbaniak.  He is not quite as prolific as the first two, but his stories are fully formed and expertly shot and very funny.

A friend of mine, who is a terrific storyteller and artist, came to visit last weekend with his family and we got to talking about art and creating things and he told me about a project he's been working on, a diorama, and how he's been freeing himself some certain constraints while building it by staying focused on the message he wanted to convey rather than worrying so much about the materials he was using.  Because the story is more important than the medium.  The medium is just a tool for telling the story.  If the story is compelling, it doesn't matter how you tell the story, just that you tell it.

I think we are lucky to live in a time when so many tools are available to allow people to get their stories out in the world.

Neil Gaiman's A Calendar of Tales is a fascinating example of using social networking tools to inspire storytelling.  Last week, over the course of a 12 hour period, Neil Gaiman would post a question to his Twitter followers pertaining to a month of the year, for example, "What's the strangest thing that ever happened to you in February?" He then selected one reply for each month and wrote a short story inspired by that reply.  Now that the stories are out, Neil Gaiman has asked folks to send in illustrations inspired by the stories that were inspired by tweets, Tossing it back out to the Internet, like storytelling volleyball.  And the stories are beautiful, you should go read them.

So those are my thoughts on storytelling for today.  Tell your story.  In whatever way suits you.  There's no excuse to not do it.

No comments: