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Field Production Basics

Release status: new

Description Basic storytelling considerations for video
Author(s) David Keto (dketoTalk)
Email David Keto
Location U Wyo CES C&T
Ag 33
Phone 766-5695



This page should help introduce the idea of storytelling in video. The stories we tell in a formal sense and in our daily lives help us make meaning out of the world around us. Thinking of video as another way to tell stories provides a big picture way to think about your project as a whole.

Essential Requirements



Learning resources information


Traditional Western storytelling focuses on a protagonist (main character) who strives toward a goal across a three act structure and who learns something or is somehow changed by the end of the story.

The details of who the particular character is and what is striving for keep us interested because while a story is specific in nature its larger themes tend to be universal. Plot twists and the protagonist changing through the story keep us interested.

This structure has been almost universally adapted by Hollywood narrative fiction film. Because Western story and film tend to follow the same structure and conventions we are almost unaware of these structures when we watch a film or read a book.

While this structure can be successful adapted in documentary film, most commonly social documentaries, it is more difficult. We are dealing with real life, where our stories may not fit this perfect three act structure. Particularly in educational film where we are trying to convey purely informational content story structure may be minimal or lack.

It is important to try to incorporate as many conventions of standard storytelling as possible to keep the audience engaged and may sure they can follow where your movie goes, but a more useful structure for the educational film is the essay.

In the absence of character development a video should at least have a clear structure that conveys information in a clear and organized way. Try thinking of your video as an essay with thesis statement and supporting details. Let us know the point you are trying to make then illustrate it with details and examples. Conclude with how this information is useful to the viewer and what applications and future directions this knowledge might have. Be cognizant of the journalistic details of: who, what, where, when, and why.

Writing out your story or essay in a more traditional form first can be helpful and this document can be adjusted to create a video treatment.

Reading List

Key Web links

Video Tutorials