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What we can learn from Hollywood about storytelling

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The first movie I ever saw in theaters was The Lion King. The size of the screen blew me away almost as much as the actual film did. Ever since then I’ve loved movies, enough to go down a career path of filmmaking. From Star Wars to Indiana Jones to The Shawshank Redemption, the stories told in movies have shaped my own sense of storytelling. At Captivate Media, the videos we make have story at their heart. It’s not about just making something that dispenses information, it’s about finding an emotional connection.

But let’s be honest, a two minute overview of a school district is a VERY different type of video than the latest superhero blockbuster that comes out in the theater. That being said, there are more similarities than you might think, and Hollywood can teach us a lot about how to tell compelling stories that help make the videos we produce for schools even more impactful.

The three pillars of good storytelling: Character, Conflict, and Resolution.

If you think of your favorite movie (mine is The Lord of the Rings) you probably immediately also think of your favorite character from that movie. Characters draw us in and keep us interested. They give us an emotional touchpoint to feel what the movie wants us to feel. Strong characters like Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, or Rocky Balboa are what make good films great. They elevate them to a new level. When we are making a video for a school, we also look for character. Whether that’s a student who has beat the odds and is achieving their dreams or a teacher who has brought something innovative into the classroom, we know that finding and following a character in our videos gives emotional depth.

The second pillar is Conflict. Any good film is going to have it. It doesn’t have to be exploding cars and planet destroying lasers, it could be a quiet moment between a couple who is dealing with a devastating loss or a personal challenge. In the same way, we are often telling stories that have conflict built into them. Whether it’s passing a referendum or improving the student experience, school districts are always addressing points of conflict and trying to make them better. And we get to shine a light on those stories. A story without conflict falls flat. But conflict alone makes for a bummer of a movie, which is why the final pillar is so important.

If you’ve ever watched a film that ended on a cliffhanger or a down note, you probably walked out of the theater a bit disappointed. We are wired to want resolution. We want to know the end to the story, and we prefer that ending to be happy. As we establish characters and build conflict in our videos we are always keeping our eye on the end goal: Resolution. Now, for the videos we make sometimes that resolution isn’t completely realized. We might create a video that is making the community aware of an upcoming referendum vote, but we don’t know the results of the vote yet. Our resolution often comes in a form of a call to action: a message at the end of the video that lets people know what they can do, where they can go, or who they can talk to to help make a difference.

From romance to action blockbusters to quirky comedies, movies all tell stories. And by looking at the stories Hollywood tells with a critical eye, we can see that under all the amazing special effects and outlandish plots, all stories are similar as they rely on character, conflict, and resolution. We love the stories we tell at Captivate. They make a difference in our community and we never want to stop telling them.

No matter the story you are telling, no matter the format, a strong story will have relatable characters, conflict, and resolution. Keeping these three principles in mind can help you connect with your audience, engage with them emotionally, and send a message. It’s one of the many ways Captivate Media crafts compelling messages every day.

Andrew Coons

 

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