Whether you’re planning a corporate or commercial video production or developing a feature film, it all comes down to how you tell your story.
Even when using video for business purposes, you still need to tell a compelling story to get your message across, but finding the right story and then telling it in an immersive way aren’t easy tasks.
However, if there’s one person we can learn a lot about storytelling from, it’s Walt Disney, a true master of the craft.
And with KVibe Productions’ feature film about Disney as a young man, Walt Before Mickey, just over a week away from opening, we thought we’d shed some light on what made him such an effective storyteller, and what you can learn from the legend.
He based the worlds of his stories on basic moral principles.
One thing about the stories of Walt Disney is the hero always wins. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to follow suit with your stories every time, but there’s something to take from that.
We’ve been telling stories visually in NJ and NY video production for years, and while the good guy doesn’t always need to come out on top in every story—although they do in Disney’s—you can still use fundamental moral principles to give viewers a better idea of the nature of your story’s world.
You can use them to show viewers that what’s considered right and wrong in their world is considered right and wrong in this one, too. Once the audience relates to the rules of the story’s world, they’ll be able to understand where the hero stands in it and why his/her virtues matter there.
Using common principles like having greed, envy, and/or betrayal lead to destruction allows you to bring the audience in closer to your story’s world because they can relate to these rules and concepts, and they’ll know who to root for and why.
The point is, you don’t need to preach or teach moral life lessons with your stories; it’s just that using basic moral principles to shape your stories’ worlds helps to give viewers an idea of the nature of the world they’re entering.
He focused on desires that we all can relate to.
Walt Disney knew that in order to get an audience to invest both emotionally and mentally in a story, they’d have to be able to relate to the desires of the story’s characters. He knew he had to focus on the kinds of desires that most people share yet generally keep to themselves.
Think about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for example. The lead character was uncomfortable and unfulfilled with her situation and had a desire to be special and unique yet also loved for her differences, a desire most of us share.
She wanted to be a part of something bigger and, along the way, she ended up meeting new friends and finding the love she so desired. Disney then followed roughly the same formula for Pinocchio, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Aladdin, etc.
He used the universal desire to experience the unknown as well, a desire that fit in perfectly with the magical, animated worlds that his stories took place in. His characters could do what reality would never allow us to do, and we could then live out these experiences vicariously through them.
You can even feel this in his theme parks. He understood the natural desire to be removed from the constraints of reality and tried to fulfill that desire by creating an entire make-believe world for people to enter into.
Walt Disney knew that his stories needed to be built around desires that most of us share or could relate to in order for his audiences to invest in his characters and their journeys, and that viewers needed to feel that he was telling them something about themselves along the way.
He gave his characters a seemingly impossible life mission.
Like mentioned above, Disney was a master at building his stories and characters around somewhat universal desires that we all can share or relate to, which leads us to another storytelling device Walt mastered: the life mission.
Whether it was Pinocchio struggling to become a real boy or Cinderella’s objective to get to the ball and find love, Walt gave his characters tangible life missions.
By taking that approach, he could use those universal desires that we all share to then kickstart a mission we could all follow as the story unravels.
From there, though, Walt knew that the journey and ultimate victory should be nearly impossible to achieve. Characters need to work for their victories because, if it’s too easy, then the conflict isn’t strong enough and there’s not enough at stake.
The bottom line is, Walt saw the value in creating simple storylines, so he created concrete missions that his characters had to complete in order to satisfy their desires, desires that most of us share.
Take it from us as longtime NJ / NY video production and filmmaking experts, if storylines feel convoluted or the characters’ missions have no discernible connection with their desires, then you’ll likely lose your audience.
No matter your style, there’s plenty to learn from Walt Disney.
Walt’s didn’t just use his incomparable storytelling abilities to get audiences to invest in his stories; he also used them to motivate his team behind the scenes.
Take the story about the development of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for instance. Many had doubts about developing an animated feature film, and Walt had to reach into his bag of storytelling tricks to get his team on board with the idea.
So, he told the story to his team in great detail, even taking on the various characters’ movements and voices so that by the time he was finished, they couldn’t wait to get started.
The point is, if anyone knew the value in strong storytelling, it was Walt Disney. He arguably did it better than anyone, and while you may not want to follow his lead expressly, there’s plenty any storyteller can learn from the legendary icon.
To learn more about the life of Walt Disney and how he started his empire, check out KVibe’s upcoming feature film, Walt Before Mickey and visit the official movie site. Also, keep an eye out for our next project down the pipeline, Brandini, another inspirational tale about an artist with a dream he’d do anything to realize.
About KVibe Productions: A full-service film & video production company in NJ / NY, KVibe can handle every aspect of production. Whether it’s a corporate video production, a commercial, a feature film, etc., KVibe creates to inspire.