The results from our latest workshop demonstrate the primary thesis of our new paths was proved overwhelmingly true. In last  week’s post, titled Reinventing The Media Workshop with StoryMaker I wrote that by providing tailored, workshop-specific assignments in StoryMaker, we can improve our success rate in the classroom. Our participants confirmed this by delivering more than fifty complete stories.

In the span of three days, each of twenty three Libyan activists and journalists who came to the workshop in Istanbul showed clear improvement in their skills as filmmakers and storytellers. By preparing assignments ahead of time as paths, and including additional tips and directions inside StoryMaker, we reduced classroom time and maximized practical work.

Most of the participants had little or no video storytelling experience. Their first videos, based on an “Interview your partner” assignment, directed participant to ask the partner one question and shoot two supporting clips. A path in StoryMaker walked them through the process step-by-step, allowing them to review instructions while shooting without the trainer present.

The first assignment  was intended to teach very basic skills. As you can see in many of the videos, most of the participants created typical beginner videos which demonstrate little understanding of how to create a clear narrative. On the visual side, they failed to use distinct shots types that work to advance the story.

The path for the second assignment, “Shoot a Process Story,” focused on constructing a narrative, and explained how narrative is constructed with different types of shots. The process videos began to show improvement, however one of the most important skills, combining very close shots with more distant shots, continued to elude many of them.

You can see an example here, titled "Checking In" or view their process story videos over on youtube.

By the time the participants shot the final, narrated stories everyone had showed incredible growth. The stories demonstrated narrative arcs, variation in shot type, and were at times funny, sad, and informative. By the end of the workshop it was clear that everyone was prepared to start focusing more intently on the craft of storytelling - building complex narratives that use emotion to move the audience.

You can see many of their videos below. Unfortunately, due to concerns of some participants regarding cultural norms and individual security, we cannot share all of the final videos.

We probably didn’t go far enough in putting tips and technical skills inside StoryMaker paths. Teaching more technical skills inside the paths will increase the time available to focus on the practical work of making stories, reviewing stories, and advising participants on techniques specific to their needs.

We will continue to streamline StoryMaker and enhance the ability to provide tips and direction at the point of production. This will strengthen StoryMaker as a stand-alone tool that helps users who cannot attend trainings tell better stories. At the same time, when StoryMaker is used in a workshop, it will increase the role of the trainer as mentor, not teaching just basic skills, but advising participants how they can build on the basics to create great stories.