Story Telling 101


The best story tellers paint a picture in few words.  They illustrate the situation with vivid colors and active verbs.  They draw you in and capture your imagination.  They engage you with each and every fascinating detail.

The best movies do the same.  Every angle, every shot, every sound strengthens the story and allows the viewer to experience the highs and lows of the characters and follow the progression of the narrative to its final climax and resolution.

Matthew McConaughey as Coach Lengyel works his magic to rebuild a devastated football program.
Matthew McConaughey as Coach Lengyel works his magic to rebuild a devastated football program.

The 2006 film, We Are Marshall is a good example of a movie that takes you along for that ride.  In the final play of the pivotal football game, we sit on the edge of our collective seat to learn if the player will catch the ball and save the day for the team, the coach and the school.  But the film makers didn’t just set a camera in the bleachers and let the play run.  No.  They tell the story of the entire year in that one play.

The scene requires two minutes and 44 seconds, from the lineup over the football to the award of the team ball.  And in that short amount of time, editors place 104 different clips.  They tell the story from every angle.  They give you a close up, a wide shot, from under the ball on the line, from the stands.  The film makers take you back in time.  They return you to the game and they help you celebrate the win, moving you from anticipation, to grief, to celebration.

The best story-tellers can do that.  The best movies can do the same.  We Are Marshall is just such a movie.