Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good Storytelling Is Always in Style

Dirck Halstead and PF Bentley's 10-day Platypus workshops are celebrated for their intensive hands-on instruction in videojournalism. Gail Mooney (pictured) attended their bootcamp ten years ago, and returned this year as an instructor. As she reports, a lot has changed technologically in those intervening years .

However, we're glad that one underlying lesson endures, and that's the eternal quest for high-quality storytelling. Yes, it's important to master cameras, mics and editing software. But the prettiest pictures and loveliest scenes don't mean diddly if the viewer is not engaged by a compelling narrative.
If I had to make one distinction that separates the Platypus Workshop from so many of the other DSLR workshops that have sprung up of late, it’s the workshop’s emphasis on telling the story – and the story is everything. Before you even set out to start shooting your final project, you need to get your “commitment” approved by PF or Dirck. You need to present to them in a concise sentence or two what your story is about. If you can’t articulate what your story is about – you ‘re sent back to the drawing table to refine or define what your message is. That’s a pretty big distinction if you think about it because without a solid story, even the most technically proficient videos will fall short with a viewer and end up being an unmemorable piece of fluff....

Good story telling never goes out of fashion , no matter what tools one chooses to use to tell their story. A good story is a good story....

The tools may have changed since my days at the Platypus Workshop but the fundamentals of video journalism are pretty much the same. I’m grateful for that foundation because telling the story is what it’s all about and that never goes out of style.
Gail Mooney's blog, Journeys of a Hybrid, is chockablock with excellent insight into straddling the worlds of photojournalism and videojournalism.

Upcoming Platypus workshops:
Prague, Czech Republic: July 9–18.
Rockport, Maine: July 25–August 3.

More info here.

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