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The first installment of the TechSoup
Digital Storytelling Challenge webinar series covered everything you need
to consider before you hit record.
The hour-long webinar was led by Rich
Vázquez, co-founder and board president of Lights. Camera.
Help. Vázquez, who has a
background in screenwriting, guided the audience through some of the basic
concepts of developing stories for production. The discussion concluded with
some examples of effective nonprofit video and suggestions for storytelling resources.
The basic elements of a story are style, setting, theme,
plot, and character. The style covers what sort of tone is used to tell the story. The setting not only locates the action but also
can drive much of your film’s tone. The theme is the broad idea or message that
your moving is trying to convey. Plot is the vehicle that moves the story – the
action. The character, an integral element to the plot, can be a person,
object, or even the setting.
One important question that drives storytelling is why do we
tell stories? Understanding the intent of your digital story informs all
aspects of how that story is developed.
Key considerations include
understanding who your audience is and where you want to take the audience when
the story concludes. Make certain the story you are telling and how you are
telling it appeals to your intended audience.
Questions, to ask include:
Like your organization, Vázquez
suggests that your digital story have a stated goal or mission statement.
Having a stated mission for your digital story can serve as central organizing
Planning a digital story, he proposes, is like event planning. And
like event planning, involves elements such as deciding who will be involved,
how much time is expected of them, and what tools or other elements are needed.
Production generally requires much more in terms of time and resources than
most people initially think, which is why careful planning is a must. As an
example, Vázquez talked
about shooting outdoors, which can be noisy depending on the time of day. Vázquez also advises that
nonprofits obtain permission from subjects or the owners locations used in
As for equipment, both for pre- and post-production, Vázquez’s first suggestion is for
nonprofits to contact their local public access channel, which can be a great
source for camera and sound tools. Organizations that want to take a more
professional approach to screenwriting and production planning can use Celtx, a
free online tool.
Obtaining free music, photos, or video clips is possible
through online searches for creative commons licensed content. Other music
sources include Jamendo, ccMixter, and MobyGratis.com. Finding photos is even
easier if using CreativeCommons.org, which searches only for creative commons
licensed content on Google, Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, and more.
for video content can search through Archive.org or Vimeo, which features a
special search setting for reusable content. And finally, Vázquez suggests that nonprofits
look to the relationships they have and just ask. Sponsors will sometimes
contribute for higher filmmaking budget and music, photo, or video creators are more
inclined to lend freely to nonprofits.
To learn more to help you tell your digital
storytelling, make sure to mark your calendar for the upcoming TSDigs tweetchats