Tell a Story Through Film

Article 7 min
It's not enough to capture footage and splice it together; to get your message across, you have to find the right story and arrange it so your intended audience will care. In this short YouTube documentary, filmmaker Ken Burns talks about choosing a good story and bringing out the emotion that connects with viewers.

One common misconception is that nonfiction films present a natural, unchanging view of the world they contain. In reality, you can make entirely different films covering the same event, based on what is shot and edited. What distinguishes each version from the other? The story.

In "Ken Burns: On Story," documentary filmmaker Ken Burns tells The Atlantic how he chooses compelling stories, what draws him to his subjects and how he manipulates his film to produce "emotional truths" that resonate with audiences. Burns uses the word "manipulate" in a neutral sense because every story arranges content for emotional effect. Watch to understand how Burns' method and apply it to your own storytelling. 

The media you create should also use emotion to communicate the commander's intent to the audience. Having a story in mind during shooting and editing will keep the content focused and produce stronger reactions. Look for relatable, "transcendent stories" with broad audience appeal to encourage the intended emotional response. How a message is delivered colors its reception, and telling the right story the right way gets your message across.