My Four Keys to Effective Storytelling
So what makes a good story? For me, it needs to have these four key components, a stated theme. The theme to this particular story that we shot was was reconciliation. Number two, a catalyst. Her discovering that her beloved mother had terminal cancer. Number three, a dark night of the soul, the despair of losing her mother and her marriage all within the same month. The break into three, finale, how she found hope and healing in her faith. Now, not every story needs to have a wonderful ending. Some of the best stories are still the ones that are still in process, people that are still learning, still grieving, still discovering. We want to make sure that we pay attention to those types of stories as well, because honestly, that's real life.
How did we achieve our visual look to compliment this story? The overall look began when we brought in these quasars as our background lights. We were wanting more of a warmer tone, but honestly, when we were going through setup, I switched it on to this daylight preset, and then all of a sudden I heard a "whoa." I looked back and I looked at Connor, my fellow filmmaker, at Canyon Ridge. He was really liking what he was seeing. So I stopped right there, took a look myself, and it was such a beautiful color contrast between warm and cool that we decided to stick with it. So that was a happy little accident. The quasars also served us well as our edge lights and hair light. So something fun and out of the ordinary was when we created our own promist look in-camera. So we wanted to create something subtle that would compliment the quasars in the back. So for our key, we went with a 2x1 Gemini with a half stop diffuser and a 40 degree egg crate, and then another 2x1 Gemini bouncing off of foam core as our supplemental fill light.
When implementing b-roll for this film, we were really trying hard to figure out a location that didn't look so Vegas looking. If you ever lived here or visited here, you know exactly what I'm talking about. There's a lot of tan tones. It's the desert. You don't really see green anywhere. But luckily, we found this location called Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs, and literally, it's an oasis in the desert. So we shot in golden hour, and honestly, you can never go wrong shooting golden hour in Las Vegas or in a desert. Seems like those hated tan tones that we don't like just brings in a nice, subtle fill for your character. So one of my favorite shots of this film was this ultra slow move where unintentionally the sun lit her eyes, which visually paired perfectly when she was talking about her experience with God, her experience talking to God. Visually, I believe this is the height of the film where we see hope start to come alive in her.
I'd love to hear how you're telling stories through filmmaking wherever you're at. If you haven't seen the film, make sure to check it out below. Special thanks to my fellow Canyon Ridge filmmaking crew, and a very special thank you to Tamara for sharing her story.
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header photo by heather butler and canyon ridge