My job is to help people tell stories. That sounds really easy and fun, and most days it is. But most of us don’t want to simply share our story; we want our story to influence people and the decisions they make. We want our story to have integrity and truth, and we want to stand out from the crowd. What we want is to be heard.
I have boiled down the definition of effective storytelling to this formula: Emotion + Information = Revolution. Great examples of this include the social-media revolution that exploded in Egypt, the popular documentary Black Fish, or the powerful media campaign launched in Bristol Bay, Alaska, to block the Pebble Mine. If we want to change the future, we have to tell effective stories that engage people to react and act.
Part of the media revolution is the accessibility to media recordings on our smart phones. High-resolution images can be captured on our mobile devices, edited and uploaded to the Internet in a matter of minutes. Information can be immediate. However, human capacities force us to process information at a much slower pace. We can receive stories via FaceBook or Instagram, and we may have an immediate, deeply felt reaction: anger over images of children suffering in a detention center for no other reason than they were born in a different country; sadness over polar bears drowning as the polar ice caps melt; or compassion for a young nurse bandaging a soldier from an enemy country. After that immediate reaction, we must live with the knowledge of these emotions, and we must make a decision about what we might do to engage in these people’s stories. True stories might inspire actions such as these: A Santa Fe woman unites area churches to create backpacks filled with toys, notebooks and books to be given to children in detention centers in Artesia, New Mexico; a young man joins Polar Bear International and is inspired to obtain his law degree and become a lobbyist; and a local family creates a scholarship fund to aid newly trained U.S. doctors and nurses to work with Doctors Without Borders.
My job is to help people tell stories that will change the way we think about our communities, our future and ourselves. It is an amazing job, and I absolutely love what I do.
Monique M. Anair, M.A., is an assistant professor of film production and media studies at Santa Fe Community College. She teaches Media and the Environment, the Wireless Global Story Project, Women Make Media, and Cinematography. She worked as a camerawoman in Boston and Los Angeles before moving to Santa Fe in 1999. You can read more about her at http://moniquesfccfilm.blogspot.com/ For more about SFCC’s film programs, call 505.428.1738, or visit www.facebook.com/groups/25143409466/?fref=ts