Weekend Reads: collaboration and connecting.
With the announcement of the first wave of accepted Story & Heart Filmmakers lapping at our heels—as well as with some insanely big news we can’t wait to start telling you about first thing next week (seriously, tune in Tuesday, it’s going to be a doozy)—we’re getting all kinds of excited for the community that we’re building together.
It’s through this community that we will change the way you—the way all of us—tell stories. In other words, collaboration is essential to storytelling, and our focus at Story & Heart is to give filmmakers the resources, tools, and encouragement they need to be able to work together safely and confidently.
We believe that when you have the freedom to tell the stories you love, the stories you love will change the world.
Which is why we’re always looking to learn more about how collaboration can be a part of every one of our lives, every single day—and not as some sort of major aspiration, but as part and parcel of who we are.
We’re meant to connect; it’s in our biology to collaborate. Because we’re human.
So, as you head into the weekend...
Here are 5 reads we’ve recently encountered that confirm the crucial nature of collaboration:
Whether you’re a photographer, filmmaker, writer, or any kind of creative, freelancing will at some point, more often than not, be a big part of your quotidian. And with that freewheelin’ freelancing lifestyle typically comes a sense of paranoia coupled with isolation: the sense that your lifeblood—your creativity—will be co-opted by your competition, and so your whole livelihood will run dry.
Photographer John Schell argues over at Fstoppers that sharing your secrets shouldn’t be accompanied by so much fear—that, really, forging such connections among creatives will benefit your whole process invaluably:
Sharing my technique in such an open way was a first for me, and it was one that I found to be really quite liberating; knowing that someone could reproduce meant that if I wanted to keep my work fresh, I need to learn something new.
An exhaustive and compelling look at the process behind one of our generation’s most heralded documentaries, Jason Guerrasio’s “oral history of Hoop Dreams” is more of a chronicle of two totally inexperienced storytellers finding a story together than it is a text-book explanation of Hoop Dreams as a critical touchstone.
What’s most insightful about the series of interviews Guerrasio conducted is how it details the ways in which director Steve James and producer/best friend Frederick Marx were able to forge lasting, intimate connections with the subjects of the film. As Arthur Agee, one of the two boys the film follows for over four years, says at one point:
That talk with Steve really assured me that they had my best interests, and they really wanted to be part of my life. That talk with Steve was like talking to my uncle.
Andy Baker, Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director for National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD, also writes The Client Blog, a rarely seen look at the "client" side of the creative contracting relationship, a side often greeted with disdain more than an attitude of collaboration. Baker wants to change that.
In this article he reveals the long project of bringing an innovative educational show (so-called “brain candy without the cavities”) to life on the National Geographic channel, and how it would have never had a chance without a rigorous diet of collaboration, all kinds of minds meeting to build something together:
We took the first stab at the writing, with [production company] Big Smack penning an outline, then I tweaked it to be a bit more focused on the show, nailed it down a bit more, and then we handed it to [show host] Jason, who took our outline, and put it into his own flow and language. Back and forth we went, collaborating on terminology, takeaways, and themes...
As Simon Sinek has spent 100s of pages providing evidence to support the idea that collaboration is a chemical imperative, so Belle Beth Cooper takes more of all-encompassing look at the biology of team-building.
Getting any team to work together, she claims, is all about finding that balance between our natural tendencies as social animals and making sure that the benefits of strong connections among team members reaches every single person involved...
...and you can take heart in the fact that we’re predisposed to want to collaborate, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get some teamwork happening.
OK, confession: this selection is courtesy of our own Connector, Dom, who we let Stillmotion borrow for a post specifically targeted toward storytellers struggling with team-building.
Much of what Dom lists he’s learned through helping to foster the Story & Heart community, such as the importance of listening—as in: truly listening—as well as how a sense of ownership encourages each person on a team to know he or she is playing a vital role in building something so much more spectacular than each of its individual parts.
Yet these are only that: just a series of tips...
Because the truth is so much simpler: Storytelling requires collaboration.
The weekend awaits—as does a smorgasbord of words. There’s no time to waste!
We’d love to discuss any of these articles with you in the comments below, and if you happen to run across additional articles or blog posts or words of wisdom regarding collaboration and connection, share a link—and we guarantee that with our weekend we’ll check them out.