If you go on YouTube and watch filmmaking channels, you will likely find that most of them are gear reviews, or editing tutorials, or cinematography tips and tricks. Everyone knows how to use the latest gear and make their shots look the prettiest. But by far the most important part of filmmaking, telling a story, appears severely underrepresented. Story is king, but it doesn’t seem to be treated as such these days.

With advances in technology, especially that of video cameras and prices of these dropping lower and lower, they are more and more available to a wider range of people. Now, you can shoot 4K video from your phone, upload it to YouTube and have millions of people see it. Or you can upload your travel videos from your DSLR in gorgeous 120 frames per second slow motion, and make a film out of that. But for the most part, these films don’t actually tell a story.

They might tell a story like this “I went to Iceland and this is what I saw there,” but I don’t think that’s really a compelling story.

Storytelling in Online Video

But that doesn’t mean that all online filmmaking channels are absent of story. Casey Neistat, probably YouTube’s biggest vlogger, said this about storytelling:

Story is all that matters. Story is golden. Story sits atop of that gigantic pyramid that is filmmaking.

And he lives it. In all of his vlogs there is an actual story that he is telling. Generally his vlog is about his everyday life, but he manages to find a story within his day, and crafts a story around it. “Story is king. Everything serves the king.” This is probably the reason why he is so popular. It’s not because he has the best gear or his shots look the best. In fact, often his gear falls over, he jump cut edits or cuts off the words he is saying. It’s unpolished, but it’s the story that engages his viewers so much.

A few years ago a Pixar storyboard artist and director tweeted out her 22 Rules of Storytelling, as picked up by her during her time at Pixar.  You can read the whole list here but in this situation number 21is relevant:

You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’.

The same goes with your gear and your tech. You can just make your film look cool and use the coolest gear. You have to identify with what’s actually in your film and so should your audience. And remember, story is king.

Want to learn more about story and screenwriting?

These are the books we recommend to pick up (and then not put down until you’re done reading them):

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

story by robert mckee - story is king

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

anatomy of story - story is king

Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

save the cat - story is king

For more stories on Screenwriting, check out our other articles.


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