Film: How To Be A Visual Storyteller

October 17, 2013

Visual StorytellerIt’s much more than lights, camera, action.

And, despite today’s blockbusters, it’s also more than special effects. Film is about the story – and without incorporating visual storytelling techniques into your work, your script might not transition well to the screen. You might come up short.

At Brooks, we don’t want that to happen to you. We want you to create visually stimulating films that inspire and capture the attention of your audiences. Read to discover the tradition of visual storytelling and examples from two films – the classic Citizen Kane and the critically acclaimed Black Swan.

When film was first developed, directors could not rely on sound to convey meaning to their audiences – they simply didn’t have the technology. Screen Online writer Mark Duguid says, “The limitations of the silent form led filmmakers to develop a visual language to enable them to say with images what they could not using dialogue or sound.”

Placement on screen was incredibly important, as was body language. Directors and actors had to carefully consider what was captured on screen. It was subtle elements such as what the actors were looking at, how they moved and how they positioned themselves that conveyed the most to audiences.

In fact, Duguid notes that by the time sound arrived in 1927, visual storytelling in film was so sophisticated that “sound was felt by some to be almost unnecessary.” Others, including the infamous Alfred Hitchcock, believed the arrival of sound undermined the film industry. Directors were no long required to focus on these visually storytelling techniques – sound allowed dialogue to do most of the work.

Use these two examples as reference points for making your film projects more detailed. Visual storytelling emphasizes the need for detail, symbolism and even intricacy to make a motion picture more dramatic. It allows a film to become more than a motion picture.

Learn more about these techniques and others at Brooks Institute.