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We can become accomplished storytellers by learning from some of the best journalists in film and television.   In each lesson we will view a remarkable story and then figure out why, and how, it works so well.

LESSON #2  |   LIFE-CHANGING PLAY
(STEVE HARTMAN/CBS)

NOTE:   AFTER WE SPEND SOME CLASS TIME "DECONSTRUCTING" THIS STORY, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS GOOGLE FORM LINK AND SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON EACH OF THE DISCUSSION TOPICS BELOW.

1.  LIFE-CHANGING PLAY  (trt: 3:31)

BEGIN BY WATCHING THE ENTIRE STORY

CLASS DISCUSSION

LET'SDECONSTRUCT

2.  WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ELEMENTS OF THIS STORY THAT MAKE IT SO COMPELLING?

3.  NOTICE THAT THE REPORTER DOESN'T DROP THE FIRST GOLDEN NUGGET UNTIL WE ARE 45-SECONDS INTO THE STORY.  UNTIL THAT MOMENT, WE HAVE NO IDEA WHY THE TEAM WAS PLANNING THIS "REMARKABLE PLAY."   RATHER THAN TELLING THE AUDIENCE ABOUT KEITH IN THE VERY BEGINNING, WHY IS THE STORY STRONGER BY WAITING? (VIEW UNTIL 1:16)

BUILD UP TO THE SURPRISE

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4.  WE NEED TO CARE ABOUT THE CHARACTERS.   WITHIN THE FIRST FEW SECONDS OF MEETING KEITH, WE CARE ABOUT HIM.  WHILE WE CAN SEE THAT HE IS UNIQUE, WE LEARN WHY, AND WE IMMEDIATELY CONNECT WITH HIM.  HOW DID THE REPORTER MAKE THIS HAPPEN IN THE STORY? (VIEW UNTIL 1:32)

5.  LET'S PARALLEL PARK!   PARALLEL PARKING IS AN EASY-TO-EXECUTE EDITING TECHNIQUE THAT CAN TAKE YOUR STORIES TO THE NEXT LEVEL.   WE CALL IT PARALLEL PARKING BECAUSE THE EFFECT, ON AN EDITING TIMELINE, LOOKS LIKE A DIAGRAM FOR VEHICLE PARALLEL PARKING.  ESSENTIALLY YOU "PARK" SHORT AUDIO CLIPS IN BETWEEN YOUR VOICEOVER OR  A-ROLL AUDIO.  LET'S WATCH THIS SAME SCENE AGAIN- NOTICE HOW THE REPORTER PARALLEL PARKED KEITH'S "HUGGING" COMMENTS IN BETWEEN HIS VOICEOVERS.
(VIEW UNTIL 1:32)

THE HUMAN CONNECTION

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A COMPELLING EDITING TECHNIQUE

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6.  KEEP YOUR SOUNDBITES BRIEF.   IF THERE IS A COMMON THREAD IN THE BEST STORIES PRODUCED FOR TELEVISION AND DOCUMENTARY FILM, IT IS THE CONCEPT THAT INTERVIEW CLIPS NEED TO BE BRIEF.  SOME OF THE BEST REPORTERS BELIEVE THAT IF THE INTERVIEWEE CANNOT ANSWER A  QUESTION IN A SENTENCE OR TWO, IT'S MORE EFFECTIVE FOR THE REPORTER TO SUMMARIZE THEIR ANSWER IN A VOICEOVER.  VIEW THIS SEQUENCE OF SHORT ANSWERS. CONSIDER MAKING THIS A FOCUS OF YOUR NEXT STORY-  CAN YOU EXTRACT THE MOST COMPELLING SEGMENTS FROM A LONGER ANSWER?  (VIEW UNTIL 1:43)

SHORT ANSWERS ARE MORE COMPELLING

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FURTHER DISCUSSION?

DIGDEEPER

1.   THE BEST QUESTIONS ARE OFTEN ABOUT FEELINGS.   TWICE DURING THIS STORY, STEVE HARTMAN ASKS "FEELINGS" QUESTIONS  ("WHAT WAS THAT LIKE" AND "WHY DID IT AFFECT YOU SO MUCH?").   WATCH THEM BOTH AGAIN AND LOOK AT THE REACTION HE GETS FROM THE TWO BOYS.  (VIEW UNTIL EACH BOY ANSWERS THE QUESTION)

KEEP THIS IN MIND AS YOU PRODUCE YOUR STORIES.  THE VIEWERS ARE LESS INTERESTED IN FACTS, FIGURES AND STATISTICS AND MORE INTERESTED IN QUESTIONS THAT ELICIT HEARTFELT ANSWERS. 


2. WHAT MAKES STEVE HARTMAN TICK?  IN THIS INTERVIEW WITH STEVE, HE TALKS ABOUT THE "NICHE" HE HAS CARVED OUT FOR HIMSELF IN BROADCAST JOURNALISM.  HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT NEWSCASTS STRIVE TO OFFER SOMETHING UPLIFTING DURING AN EVENING NEWSCAST?  WHAT FUNCTION DOES THIS SERVE IN A NEWS BROADCAST RUNDOWN?
(VIEW UNTIL 2:27)


3.  LAST, BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST!  THE WRITING!  STEVE HARTMAN ONCE SAID THAT WHEN HE IS WRITING HIS STORIES, HE IMAGINES THAT HE IS SITTING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH HIS MOM.   WHY IS "CONVERSATIONAL" WRITING SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL THAN "FORMAL" WRITING IN STORIES OR TELEVISION?   REMEMBER IN TELEVISION AND FILM, WE ARE WRITING FOR THE "EAR."  (VIEW FIRST AND LAST 30 SECONDS)

4.  THIS SHORT ARTICLE HAS EIGHT GREAT TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR STORIES.

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WRAP-UP

PLEASE CLICK ON THIS GOOGLE FORM LINK AND SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON EACH OF THE DISCUSSION TOPICS ABOVE.