Ok, the more I watch these videos, the more I want to share them with the whole world. Be sure to watch all 4 parts. Ira is the best! As the legendary Host and Executive Producer of This American Life, Ira is a master story-teller. I love his boyish voice. I love his candor. And I love the way he has worked so hard at becoming who he has become.
1. Use anecdotes. They let you tell a story in it’s purest form. By describing a sequence of events, your audience will inherently feel as though they are coming on a journey with you. It creates suspense.
2. Create bates. Create questions in the mind of your audience. The more “whys”, the more you will have them hooked.
3. Create a moment of reflection. This is your chance to tell your audience why you are wasting their time with whatever it is you’re doing (ie. video, film, radio spot). If your anecdote doesn’t have a point and doesn’t lead a listener to an “aha” moment, kill it.
4. Don’t keep everything. What people don’t usually tell you is how hard it is to find a decent story. If it’s not good, can it. If you’re not failing all the time, you’ll never create anything great.
5. Talk the way people normally talk. Everything will be more compelling if you can do this. “They don’t need you imitating Ted Koppel.”
6. You need to have drama. Yes the story is about someone else, but it’s important that you be in there too. You need have a personality in order to be a supporting actor. What’s interesting is seeing you interact with other people; seeing other people through your eyes. Otherwise there is no drama. There needs to be a good balance between you and the interviewee, because without good characters you can’t have a good story.
7. Don’t give up. You need to have killer taste. You need to know if what you’re making is crap. But a lot of creative people never get out of this phase. They throw in the towel too soon because they feel as though they will never measure up. But the solution is to do more work. The more volume you churn out, even if it’s free, the more likely that your work will match your ambitions and high expectations.
8. Put yourself on a schedule. Make half a dozen videos per month and if you’re lucky, you’ll discover something great in just one of those.
9. In ten years it will be fun to look back at your work and laugh at your inadequacies. That’s how we know we’ve made progress.
“All video production is trying to be crap. It’s the law of entropy.”
“Things that are good are good because people are being really really tough.”
“You don’t want to be making mediocre stuff.”
“Be fierce. Be a warrior.”
Thanks for the pep talk Ira!