Since joining Oswego Creative as a producer two and a half years ago, I’ve been producing a lot more documentary-style content. This kind of video focuses the lens on real people rather than scripted actors. While I started my production career working on mostly narrative commercials and films, I have really found joy in telling a person’s authentic story.
‘Bonneville Transmission Line’ tells the story of an outfit of outside linemen using extraordinary measures to build a transmission line in seemingly impossible mountainous terrain.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, everybody has a hell of a story to tell; even the most seemingly mundane person. Oftentimes, when I start the production process on a doc-style video, one of the first things the subject will tell me is “I’m really not that interesting” or “I don’t think I have a good story”. Well, I assure them that they’re wrong, and that it’s my job to bring the story out of them. The tricky part is not everyone has an obvious story on the surface. This is why I always look for the struggle. Just like everyone has a story, we all share struggle.
‘Band of Brotherhood Episode 4’ explores the adversities of a young man serving in the Army Reserves while he balances a full-time career as an electrical worker in the civilian world.
I see struggle falling into two camps. There’s circumstantial adversity a person faces such as substance abuse, crippling anxiety, an industry challenge, or maybe the responsibility of being a provider. But there’s also chosen adversity such as choosing to start a business, choosing to challenge oneself with a strenuous task, purposeful self reflection, or maybe bringing awareness of a difficult issue to a community. Whatever it might be, I find that my favorite stories are about how the subjects handle the pressure. If the person or organization of people are able to get to the other side of their struggle successfully and as an improved version of themselves, the story is about triumph. If the person or organization of people are flattened by the enormity of the adversity, the story is usually a cautionary tale. The cool thing about the latter is no matter how long a challenge seemingly defeats a person or organization, if they’re still breathing, there’s always an opportunity for success.
The families and friends left to pick up the pieces after their loved ones are lost are oftentimes left with unbearable tasks. The National Sisterhood United for Journeymen Linemen works tirelessly to ease their pain and give them support.
That’s the beautiful thing about struggle being an integral part in everybody’s life, the way people handle it is as unique as a fingerprint. Some people thrive on struggle. They see it as an opportunity for a challenge in order to better themselves. Others hide their struggle all together. Rather than face it and risk being defeated, they bury it deep inside where they don’t have to look at it. In this case, the story is the internal battle, which often is the most destructive. And then you have those who face the problem, but are overcome. The fight, the fall, and the lessons learned are the story.
‘Women in Construction’ gives a voice to a small minority working in a largely man’s world. When you look different, and have different experiences than your counterparts, it’s easy to feel intimidated. Only the mentally strong will make it.
This is why I love producing doc-style content about real people. It’s raw. I approach each conversation I have with the subject as an intimate exchange of ideas. I open myself up to be vulnerable and truthful about my own experiences in order to find relatable ground. For me, the best way to uncover the authentic story is to approach each person with curiosity, relatability, and ultimately, respect.
As a storyteller, the great thing about struggle, no matter if it’s circumstantial or self imposed, is it will always exist, meaning there will never be a shortage of stories to explore.