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Thoughts on Going Further

At MediaStorm we strive to depict the truth of every single person we document. I sometimes refer to this process as going with the grain of the wood. That is, telling the stories that are embedded in the raw material. We aim to shape what is documented, not what we would like to see.

That is our highest aspiration, to reveal the specific.

In pursuing this ideal for close to a decade now, we have employed a number of techniques that permeate our work [1]. You are no doubt familiar with some of them:

  • Stories that begin with an individual’s plight and end with a larger call to social justice.
  • A steady pace defined by frequent cutting on musical beats.
  • Video portraits that blend photography and motion.

We use these conventions because they work and when used effectively they are powerful. I believe in them. I helped, in part, to create what might be called this MediaStorm style.

But I want to go further. All of us at the company do. ‘Multimedia’ strives to be cinematic. And as practitioners we must also strive to continually improve and more importantly, evolve as storytellers.

Tom Waits, a musician who has made a career as a shapeshifter once said, “It’s very hard to stop doing things you’re used to doing. You almost have to dismantle yourself and scatter it all around and then put a blindfold on and put it back together so that you avoid old habits.”

Going forward, I want to challenge the notion that the only way to do things is the way I’ve done them in the past.

Yes, there is an anarchistic thrill in breaking rules, but that’s not the point. As I’ve stated elsewhere, editing is an act of empathy. It’s about bridging the gap between subject and viewer to create understanding. And emotion is our single greatest tool for that purpose. Get the viewer to feel what the subject does.

To do so, everything should be in play, nothing off the table. There are just only three questions that should guide our choices: Does it have intention? Does it work? Is it truthful?

I don’t know where these decisions will lead, or what they’ll eventually look like, but I will tell you this, I’m damn excited to find out.

Stay tuned.

  1. Not all of our work, of course. Just glance at the sheer diversity of style in our publication projects. ↩
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