“From the point of view of picking subjects for stories,” Krist says, “a friend of mine was a National Geographic photographer who got into video way before I did. His name is Bob Sacha, and he has a five-point rubric that he uses to analyze a potential subject to make sure it has potential as a video story. I call it ‘Sacha’s Five Laws of Potential Story.’”
Here they are.
Is there a main character through which the story can be told? Are they interesting and able to communicate the story? In a longer piece, you might look for supporting people who can help support the main character, though it’s generally better to focus on a single character who will give the audience a deep dive—particularly in a shorter piece.
2. Story Arc
Is there an actual process with a beginning, middle and end? There should be.
Is there a process the characters are going through that’s visible and visual? Can it be seen?
Will the characters allow you to witness their process? Can you physically get close enough to record the story?
Do you have enough time to witness and film the evolution of the process?
“As long as these five points are present,” Krist says, “there’s a good chance of telling a successful visual story. It’s the same elements of story that have been in place since The Odyssey. You find an appealing character, you take them on a journey, you watch them overcome obstacles, how they change, and then there’s a denouement. And all your best stories, all your best Hollywood movies, all of these things, they all have this same ingredient.
“I always tell people to try not to do a story about your meditation teacher,” he adds, “rather, do it about your yoga teacher. Your meditation teacher sits there, lives in his or her head, but your yoga teacher is doing stuff that you can film.”
You can learn more about the art of visual storytelling from both of the experts cited here. Bob Sacha teaches several workshops around the country throughout the year. Register for his workshops at bobsacha.com/edu. Bob Krist will be teaching a weeklong “stills to video” workshop this February in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Visit seekworkshops.com/select-workshop/bob-krist-video to learn more.