30 key storytelling lessons from 58 filmmakers.

Storytelling Parade, our filmmaking contest with heart, has come to its first official close! 

Over the past months, we asked filmmakers to rally together. Not for us, not for themselves, and not even for the prizes. We asked them to rally together to tell the story of individuals or organizations doing good for the world—to share their stories in hopes of inspiring the world. 

What happened was nothing short of magical.

With over 300 filmmakers across 24 countries submitting films, lives were touched and the world became brighter.

Roland, a Parade filmmaker, shared this story with us.:

"Hey you guys!

I wanted to let you know about some really cool things that have been happening since I made my submission for this contest.
My video was called Letters From Dustin. It was the story of a local homeless man who has nothing, yet inspires so many in our town by writing them encouraging, uplifting, and challenging letters. He spends a lot of his time at a coffee shop downtown, which is where the video was filmed.

Any way I put that address on the description of the video in case anyone wanted to write Dustin a letter. Since the videos release he has received a number of letters from all over the country. I love getting coffee in the morning and hearing about a new letter he received from someone who saw the video. This has spread quickly around here via Facebook and people asking if they can share it in their churches. The response has been amazing and people have been inspired by Dustin and his life of passion and love.

The most exciting thing that has happened since the video was a family who owns an apartment complex came to the coffee shop one morning and started talking to Dustin about it. They then told him that they wanted to give him a FREE apartment to live in. Dustin has been completely homeless for years and he now has a warm place to live. With winter right around the corner, this blessing couldn't have come at a better time for this man.

The chain reaction I spoke about in the video has never been more evident to me. Kindness sparks kindness and the effects of telling someones story is more powerful than I ever thought. He has been asking me, everyday since I submitted the video, if I had won the contest haha. I told him no and he replied "having a warm home to live in IS winning." I couldn't agree more with him and I wanted to thank you for hosting this contest. It was challenging and I really think that the people who sought out stories to tell have all been blessed in their own ways. I just wanted to share mine."


Roland spent one day telling Dustin's story—giving his heart, time and talent—and now Dustin's life has been forever changed for the better.

In addition to filmmakers collaborating with each other and sharing such incredible stories, Storytelling Parade was also about education—learning what it takes to tell amazing stories.

And in true Story & Heart Community fashion, we want to spread the wealth of what was learned so that everyone can benefit.

Here are 30 key storytelling lessons learned from 58 Storytelling Parade filmmakers to help you bring amazing stories to life.

1. It is amazing what a regular group of people can do when united under the same mind and goal.
— Andy Jones

2. The desire for a meaningful connection is universal.
—Cory Wilson, Justin Gutwein and Alfonso Velez

3. There is beauty in every human being. It is just for us to want to look beyond the obvious surface distinctions.
—Gasper D'Souza, Shrinivas Ananthanarayanan and Vithai Zaraunkar

4. Film is not all about the fancy gear or camera movement, but about the story you want to tell.
—Mario So Gao

5. Never give up.
—Matic Oblak

6. Smile, laugh, listen and react! When people know that you are involved with something so important for them they will be natural and we can go deeper in the story.
—Wyll Farias, Weslley Barro, and João Holanda

7. Take the time to shoot stories that matter.
—Sofia Ortiz and Mike Ortiz

8. Everything comes around. There is truly something in return when you give.
—Robert Adames and Rochely Salvador

9. If you are connected to, and inspired by the story, you become one with it, and working on it becomes second nature.
—Oliver Gallini and Nic Justice

10. You can plan & shoot & edit & export & upload & enter a contest in one day and feel better [about your film] than your usual over produced shitty documentaries.
—Michael Marianek

11. A strong and organized pre production is the key for telling a good and clear story.
—Maxime Boniface and Ana Luz Sanz

12. Connecting with people is not only the most important aspect of storytelling but also the most rewarding.
—Mark Teiwes

13. Disagreements are healthy. A film is a collaborative process, and if you trust the talents of your team, you will likely surprise yourself with the results.
—David Swope, Curtis Myersand Nick Kova

14. There is a community out there that believes what you believe. It's just a matter of seeking it out.
—Darrée Hyun and Maryn Masumiya

15. Things don't always go as planned.
—Chris Moran and Rebecca Moran

16. Prepare and listen to the silent signals.
—Charley Pellecer, Edith Pellecer and Desmond Pellecer

17. Being able to make a film without expecting anything in return gave us a sense of accomplishment that no amount of money could give us.
—Carlos Andres Cuervo, Jonathan Cuartas and Michael Cuartas

18. Anyone and everyone has a great story, with patience and proper preparation I can find it and tell it.
—Brian Bishop

19. When you want, you find time.
—Bia Vasconcelos

20. Knowing the story first is very important.
—Bernardina Juliania

21. One of the biggest filmmaking tools is trust, having an established trust makes a huge difference.
—Devin Clarke, Joe Roth and Nyssa Gleuck

22. Let the subject take you there, don't drive the person to where you want them to go. Just follow and be patient and magic will happen.
—Eduardo Gonzalez and Calvin Runji

23. The power of one voice is amplified even more with you have a unified community behind you.
—Emmy Wu

24. There are still good people out there and that gives me hope.
—Franklin Carpio, Jackie Walker and Pedro Oviedo

25. We are all stronger when we collaborate and work together to accomplish things, be it to create a film or to get the word out about disease prevention.
—Jonathan Knox, Stephen Doyle and Jerry Wittwer

26. I learned not to judge others, because you never know what they may be going through OR have gone through to get where they are.
—Kasey LaRose and Josh Cross

27. Some of the most magical moments occur when you are not expecting them.
—Kostadin Kolev

28. With no money involved, good people will still come together to make some positive and help others with their dreams.
—Raul Anaya and Ramzey Staples

29. Collaboration is key.
—Russell Geisler, Ryan Geisler and Matt Vancil

30. No matter what your circumstances are, if you are surrounded by the right group of the people who support your goals and endeavors almost anything is possible.
—Stephanie To and Chris Cao

Inspired to pick up a camera after reading these? Us to! But before you do, we'd love to hear your thoughts.

Share the most important storytelling lesson you've learned with us in the comments below.