A Way Forward: Crafting a Video Story after the Fact

What if the story you want to tell has already happened? What if it’s too late to get the exact footage you’d choose if you’d known in advance what you wanted to capture?

That’s a common conundrum, and in making There Is Only Us, our mantra for solving it was: use what’s at hand.

Backstory: In 2009, photographer John Noltner started a 40,000-mile road trip, asking people from all walks of life, “What does peace mean to you?” The result, built over years, is the multimedia project A Peace of My Mind, a collection of portraits, stories, and conversations. John has shared this work in exhibits, presentations, audio recordings, and blog posts and in two books. But not until last year, when Star Thrower Distribution invited him to make a 20-minute training video based on the project, did John envision the stories and insights taking this form.

Strategy: Include four unique individuals’ stories. Give each its own weight. And give the viewer a model for how hearing the stories can lead to growth and transformation.

Sticky Wicket: John had captured some footage as time allowed, and of course we had his portraits and stories. But the archive of video footage was uneven in its completeness from subject to subject.

What We Did: In pre-production, we moved the script in a direction that integrated John's journey. We squeezed every possible bit of narrative out of the available B-roll, filling in gaps with minimal additional shooting, motion graphics, and stock footage.

Result: A memorable, powerful video that any group can use to open the door to honest dialog about empathy, civility, and inclusion. Todd Adams of Star Thrower says, It’s a video that everyone needs to see. It invites each person to connect with others in a more compassionate, empathetic way. And compassion and empathy form the foundation of an effective community.”

Video quote: “It’s not about us versus them. It turns out there’s only us.”

Tip from Chris: Often, what you have to work with isn’t what you wish you had to work with. But there’s always a way forward. In this case, as editor and director of photography, I brought the new perspective and creative problem-solving to find the path. From there, with the heart of John’s story in view, we squeezed lots of mileage out of what we had on hand and filled in the gaps with motion graphics, stock, and new shooting.

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