Storytelling Techniques

Is It Ok To Learn Storytelling Techniques For Movies?

Every movie is a story, after all. 

It is a story that we see on screen and get to hear rather than reading it from a book. 

Just like every story, every movie has that one key element that keeps the audience hitched for the longest time. And that is its storytelling techniques. 

Storytelling is one of the most crucial elements of filmmaking. Without it, a movie would simply lose its charm. Can you ever imagine a film that does not have a proper story? A film that has no definite storytelling technique that could hold the entire plot together? You cannot. 

That is because there is no movie ever made that does not use any storytelling techniques. 

However, not all storytelling techniques are perfectly suited for all movies. There are different storytelling techniques that cater to the different needs of filmmakers. 

For someone who is new to this, it might be quite complicated for you to understand the entire concept of it. That is normal because the subject of storytelling techniques is not easy to understand either. With different types and different scenarios, it might get quite complicated.

This is where I come to help you out. In this article, I will be taking you through some of the best storytelling techniques that directors use in a movie. 

So, without any further delay, let us get going. 

What Is Storytelling In A Movie? 

What Is Storytelling In A Movie

In the simplest words, storytelling refers to the art of connecting with the audience to whom you are presenting the movie. Therefore, the storytelling techniques help filmmakers engage with their audience, relating to their feelings and their brains and leaving behind a memorable impression. While the movie relies greatly on its budget, cast, lights, and costumes – all of them are nothing of the storytelling. 

What are the elements of the best storytelling techniques? 

Like the 4Ps of marketing, storytelling techniques also comprise 4Ps, which are quite similar. The 4Ps of storytelling are: 

  • Purpose 
  • Plot
  • People 
  • Place

These elements help create a framework for you to think about exceptional storytelling. Now, let us learn about these elements in detail. 

Purpose

Before you start making a movie, you would want to ask yourself the purpose of it. What is it that you want your audience to take away from it? What kind of emotions do you want to stir? What actions can you take? 

While it might look simple, having a clear purpose for your movie is very important. There have been cases where movies have completely failed as different people found different purposes for a movie. 

Therefore, it is necessary that you take a substantial amount of time to define clarity over the purpose of your movie, which will include not only the emotive but the action-oriented outcomes as well. 

Plot

You may consider this as the scaffolding for your movie. Luckily, you can build your story on multiple archetypes of plots, some of which even go as long back as Greek Drama. Most plots are built on the element of suspense or surprise. 

A good plot also includes a human element. A human element, for instance, can be a character in the film with whom the audience may identify or a perspective that they may be familiar with. 

Typically, there is also an introduction that establishes the place and time, and then, once you have taken the audience through the dramatic arc, you give them the resolution or the conclusion. 

With that being said, you may also break these archetypes, play around with conventions, and mix things up a little bit. This gives you a chance to connect with your audience on a deeper level, particularly if they are aware of the storytelling techniques you refer to. 

People 

Here, people mean the audience. For the storyline to succeed, you need to know your audience first. It is essential that the whole team is extensively familiar with the cultural signifiers that the audience is fond of. The team also needs to be familiar with the audience’s history, their language, their hopes and fears as well. 

Once you have received common ground with these aspects, your storytelling will have an emotional resonance in it. 

Any character that you introduce as a part of the movie needs to be placed in the awareness of their relatability with the audience. If not, there is a chance that they might feel synthetic or generic. 

Place 

This is exactly where you will unfold the plot. You need to decide on a place if you want to produce a real action video or simply an animation. Every story needs to have a well-established and clear sense of place. 

However, place also refers to where your audience will be engaging with and encountering your story. 

Best Storytelling Techniques Tips From The Infamous Film Maker Shaun Macgillivray

Best Storytelling Techniques Tips From The Infamous Film Maker Shaun Macgillivray

Shaun MacGillivray is the Producer and the President of the California-based entertainment and film studio company MacGillivray Freeman. 

He himself produced and directed award-winning 3D big-screen films, which include America’s Musical Journey and National Parks Adventure. 

Here are some of the tips by MacGillivray himself that can help you fix your storytelling techniques. 

Use More Visuals 

This piece of advice may seem very natural coming from someone who makes movies. But, the importance of using visuals, both moving and stills, that can connect rightly with the audience is something that every storyteller must resonate with. 

Try to Teach Your Audience Something New 

“Educate while being entertaining,” MacGillivray said to the audience. While every movie is somewhat made to entertain the audience, it should, to some extent, be able to educate them, too. It must not be only the entertainment that they take back home with them. 

Play With Emotions 

“This is by far the most important,” MacGillivray added. “You need to emotionally connect with your audience.”

Emotions don’t just mean positive emotions. You may instigate negative emotions, too. Emotions may vary from love and happiness to hatred and fear. The more your storytelling techniques have these emotional elements in them, the more it will be able to keep the audience engaged for a longer time. 

Give Your Audience Surprises 

Make sure there are unexpected surprises within your story. The audience loves it. Also, who doesn’t really like a good surprise? 

Surprises within the storytelling of your movie are one good way of having them hooked to it. Movie plots that have unexpected surprises at the end or in between the movie are more liked by the audience than any other regular movie. 

Make Them Laugh More

Every person likes a good laugh. To make the audience laugh, it is not necessary that you need to make a comedy film. 

There are certain aspects and situations in a movie that can make the audience laugh out loud despite having a completely different plot of the movie. 

The Music

Think of the movie Interstellar. Do you remember its music? Exactly! This is what good music in a movie does. 

When the music in the movie is captivating, it adds a lot more volume to its storytelling techniques. “If the song moves you and it hits you in the gut, you’ve got something,” MacGillivray adds. “If it doesn’t, it’s time to look for something else.”

Wrapping Up 

Storytelling techniques define the way you conceptualize a story and bring it in front of an audience. There are multiple storytelling techniques that help you pick up the correct narrative for your film. 

Understanding your plot and then accordingly picking up the correct storytelling techniques is quite important for every filmmaker. If you are not clear about what you are looking forward to with the film, the audience will not understand your story either. 

Hence, it is important that you first understand what you want from your own film. Get that clarity first, and then prepare it for the audience.

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About Author

Upasana is a budding journalist who has a keen interest in writing. She considers writing as therapeutic and is most confident when she writes. She is passionate about music, movies and fashion. She writes in a way that connects with the audience in a personal level. She is optimistic, fun loving and opinionated.

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