Whether you tell stories that are fictional or fact, it is critical to tell your stories with authenticity. Authentic storytelling does not necessarily mean it has to be factually accurate, or even real. It just means that it needs to be told with honesty, and in a unique way.
I was speaking to Sociallogical’s Jeff Roach this evening, and he mentioned a quote that a photographer once told him. The photographer was actually my brother Mark, and he told Jeff,
“…a great photographer (or in this case, storyteller) is not one that necessarily knows the technology of image capture inside and out, or perfect framing…a great photographer is someone who sees the world in a different way.”
When I think of great stories to tell for my documentary film projects, I always keep that philosophy in mind. There are a million different ways that you can tell the same story. The ones that resonate with audiences are ones that are told from an authentic perspective that are unique and interesting.
Many stories that are successful in attracting and engaging audiences are ones that are inspired by everyday experiences, which are meditated on, and told in a fresh way.
Andrew's Authentic Story of Culture Shock
Andrew MacCormack is a Hemmings House filmmaker. I have seen his storytelling skills evolve over the years to the point where he is producing award-winning content that attracts attention and builds audiences. After a trip to China to visit his girlfriend (at the time. Now his wife, Julie), Andrew came back with a new perspective on culture, travel and self awareness.
Andrew was born and bred on Prince Edward Island in a rural area where many young people leave as soon as they are able. I chatted with Andrew on the phone tonight to get a perspective on his experience in China, and how it inspired a beautiful film that he later produced.
“Growing up on a small rural island, I dreamt about getting out and seeing the world. I traveled to at least two dozen countries in my twenties, and always felt comfortable experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. I felt like I was a very adaptable traveler - until I experienced China. China, urban and rural, gave me a massive sense of culture shock and realized I was in the midst of experiencing a place that was vastly different from the place I grew up.
“After spending 6 weeks traveling there I returned home to rural Atlantic Canada and remember reading a story of a man who never left Prince Edward Island, my home province. This was fascinating. Tragic but yet very admirable. I then thought of the millions and billions of people who live in big cities throughout China and the world, many of whom don't have the means or ability to travel like I do. There is a lot of value and wisdom that can be gained by knowing one place really well."
Andrew returned to China earlier this year armed with a stronger understanding of Chinese culture - and a camera! He produced a film that was inspired by his authentic experience of culture shock, and the questions that he had about the differences (and similarities) of people from two completely different cultures.
Please take 7 minutes to watch his beautiful film Here & Away
Andrew is a brilliant storyteller. He reflects on experiences that he has in life, asks questions, and builds stories based on his authentic experiences. His films are engaging and interesting because he tells these stories from a perspective that no one else could.
Even the most ordinary experience, people or place can be the focus of incredibly engaging stories.
What experiences in everyday life do you have that could be told in a unique and creative way?