Visual Story Network

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April 22, 2013 UPDATE: Here are the notes from our Hollywood Consultation on April 19 on the challenges and ways forward in fostering a story movement (Google doc may require log-in). We had 20 leaders and story experts gather. 

Next steps include:

  1. Develop vs. 1.0 Story Seminar, Paris, July/August 2013.  We're looking for people who could help plan or present at the seminar.
  2. Consider editing a book on story.
  3. Consider a US-based Story Consultation (2014)
  4. Expand a list of story experts and potential story mentors.  Here is the current list.  Feel free to add your suggestions along with your name so we know how to connect.
  5. Curate existing story resources.  Please add your story resources to this page if they are not here (hit edit, add your input, then hit save).
  6. Tie into other communities (African-American, Latino)


Here is a brief slide show of our time together.  Here is a clip from our lunch hang time.

Special thanks to Terrence Berry and Act One for letting us use their meeting space and to Joey O'Connor and The Grove Center for the Arts and Media for hosting lunch!  Jim Green gets the prize for longest commute (Orlando).

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2/18/13: A handful of us began to discuss how to integrate story into the life and outreach of the global Church. Here are some of the foundational thoughts.

Need

  • We are created for story.  Story is that our core.  It is hardwired into our DNA.
  • For the sake of the Great Commission, the body of Christ must learn the art of story as it relates to evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.  We generally understand it in terms of fund-raising primarily.
  • We have seen churches, mission organizations, and Christian filmmakers make progress in their ability to increase the quality of their production.  Yet we still see great gaps in the Church’s understanding how story works on the screen and in our lives.
  • Learning the art of story will change how we tell stories, write stories, film stories, and live out our own stories"Master storytellers know how to squeeze life out of the least of things, while poor storytellers reduce the profound to banal." (McKee)
  • If we don’t tell our own story well, others will tell it for us

Vision

  • We want to launch a story movement that helps God's people understand how to more effectively communicate timeless truth through story leading to life-change through Jesus.
  • We wish to engage some of the best storytellers in an equipping process that will help leaders better understand how story can be integrated into their overall outreach, and not just fund development.

Audience

  • The Global Church
  • Mission leaders, Church Leaders, Mission practitioners, aspiring storytellers

Opportunity

  • Foster a movement of story in the Global church.  
  • Identify a global network of story equippers.
  • Develop core curriculum (5-7 hours)
  • Develop live and online training platforms.

Action

  • Host a one-day huddle with 15 key leaders who will help outline a strategy to generate a movement of story.
  • Get input from innovative thinkers (see 2/18/13 notes)

February 18, 2013 Discussion

Brian: This is Brian’s heartbeat.  He was inspired at Urbana conference in 1975 by John StottGod is a God of Story (Brian, I’d love more on this Stott message).  We need to tell God’s stories in such a way that plucks heartstrings.  Brian had writer’s block during Touched By An Angel.  Epiphany: I’m a writer, so you be a writer.  God gave His revelation through a big, giant novel.  What’s most important is the software (the story), not the hardwire.

 

Key:  Look at Hollywood let downs.  They don’t have much to say and still can’t do it with $300M.  Story is more enjoyed than understood.   We need multiple perspectives on storyMust entertain, be relevant, good set ups with payoffs.

 

Jeff: Yes, we need different perspectives of story.  We should design something with low incline, and turnkey, like early VSN webcasts.  We’ll need to layout scope and sequence.  A large undertaking (there is much content that could be shared).  Start building slowly.  Story is most effective when storytellers are given feedback on what they do.  But, start with a one-way conversation.  Some why, but get into nuts and bolts.

 

Travis:  Two things: 1.  Quoted Craig Forrest: “One of the greatest tragedies in CHRISTIANITY is occurring right now: Scores of young visual storytellers across the world are being ignored by pastors, missionaries & leaders.  Tens of thousands of young 12-30 year old filmmakers, videographers, & artists have creative dreams to tell redemptive stories.  But the Church IGNORES them & often fails to IDENTIFY them.  They sit in millions of congregations – ready to help...and be INSPIRED & INSTRUCTED.”

2.  We need to teach leaders how to be a better audience (Renee not getting love because it is PG-13).  Dandelion Dust, didn’t say Jesus enough.  One of his films had to have two translations, one in German, one in English, because audiences were so different.  The story required dealing with a murder in order to show how profound it was for the protagonist to forgive the murderer.

 

Craig: There has been a fire under the teakettle in what I’m seeing.  The church is failing to equip young visual storytellers10’s or 100’s of thousands of people age 12-30 that want to tell a story. They have a phone, tablet, camera, but ignored by pastors.  Some will spend money on equipment and TV capturing the Sunday sermon and ignore the young people.  Just got back from Honduras (Pastor has show, wife has women’s show, son has youth program).  Overseas is void of opportunities to learn at a formal level, here they could go to Orange Coast College, or Chapman.  This is not true for most people overseas.  And most have been self-taught.  Even the basic is like giving water.

 

JimWe need sons and daughters of Issachar who know how to communicate their story in their localeWe have a star mentality, rather than lifting up others.  Quoted a pastor who said, “If I equip, I’ll be out of a job.”  If we equip, we’ll see multiplicationNeed to empower others to tell stories, then we’ll see the glory of the Lord cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.  What do we want to see as end result?  We need to keep it visual.  Seminaries and bible schools taught you should do 3-point sermon and pastors adopted it worldwide (even though many cultures valued story).  Get seminaries and bible colleges to teach story and we can see long-term change.

 

PaulFour years leading a film festival, most filmmakers never saw the need to learn story, more focused on hardware, Paul always wanted more time to work on story.  People need to see the need for story.

Cautionary remark pulled from Travis’ FB post: Thomas Steves We've reduced the gospel to a product we must push through our organizational channels and systems of distribution...thinking that the more people we market our product too.  The more people will buy it.  We've lost the fundamental aspect of how the good news is spread and lives are changed...  Through individual relationship and discipleship.  Jesus only used parables and visual aides in his talks as a supplemental tool.  Now we use it as THE method for spreading the gospel.  Hence the entertainment generation... All fluff, no lasting depth.  Waiting for the next Christian blockbuster to hit the market and sell millions... " prayer of jabez" anyone?”

 

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Tags: church, integrate, movement, story, train, vision

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To clarify one of my major emphases in this HUGE discussion:

Enduring STORIES (as opposed to passing TALES) are always built on a problem-solving, argument-addressing, worldview-analyzing foundation that pushes storyformers to develop Grand-Argument Stories — which involve “well-worldviewed characters engaged in active problem-solving, and where the focused-on problem/inequity is so mentally ‘tricky’ that at least one character’s worldview change will become essential, and the lion’s share of the audience will 'emotionally learn and apply' something from that worldview change (or lack thereof).”

History clearly shows that those in Hollywood (or anywhere) who understand this concept make GREAT STORIES. The rest just make tales “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing…”

Greatly looking forward to further interaction and idea exchanges moving toward April 19,

Key Payton

Key, Well, that is just a bit more robust than my efforts to capture your wisdom!!

Oh, Clyde, I'm just trying to find/start a forum where we guys (and others) can begin discussing this HUGE topic! Wherever/whatever you think is best to post, I will listen. Thanks for the great conference this morning, and have a blessed week!

Thanks!!  I welcome the deeper thinking because we have to plumb depths to know how to offer a proper introduction to the subject.

Indeed, Clyde!

And I'd like to ask everybody else in the VSN to chime in on THIS question: What are examples of visual stories that evoked WORLDVIEW CHANGE in you or your friends?

(Also, by "worldview change," I DON'T mean "macro" change — for example, all the way from atheist to believer. Rather, I mean any visual story that challenged some "micro" aspect of the multifaceted worldview you had been basing your identity on, and after that visual story was done, its implications "forced" you to reexamine that flawed identity anchor or worldview piece.)

For me, the JESUS film, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and TOY STORY 2 all fall into this category, along with several dozen others.

What about you and yours? And can we guess which worldview pieces were "shaken" and/or "altered" by these films?

It is true that the Jesus film did do this. In fact when I first saw it the year it was made, I was dismayed on how completely artless it was. Of course that was the intent. when I began editing the first foreign language versions of the film, I began to realize that the Holy Spirit was present in and with this film. When released in the cinema it bombed. But when Campus Crusade paid the producer the production cost for the missionary rights, it became a phenomenon especially in the East.

Key Payton said:

Indeed, Clyde!

And I'd like to ask everybody else in the VSN to chime in on THIS question: What are examples of visual stories that evoked WORLDVIEW CHANGE in you or your friends?

(Also, by "worldview change," I DON'T mean "macro" change — for example, all the way from atheist to believer. Rather, I mean any visual story that challenged some "micro" aspect of the multifaceted worldview you had been basing your identity on, and after that visual story was done, its implications "forced" you to reexamine that flawed identity anchor or worldview piece.)

For me, the JESUS film, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and TOY STORY 2 all fall into this category, along with several dozen others.

What about you and yours? And can we guess which worldview pieces were "shaken" and/or "altered" by these films?

In an age where miniaturization of hardware enables young filmmakers to excel, they will not wait 'to be equipped' but will take the lead in creating visual stories of the biblical narrative in contemporary situations to communicate the message to their generation.

Another point, I heard about being discussed between christians had to do with the Bible series. Although I haven't seen the show yet, I have read that there has been some artistic creativity added. Some Christians have argued that the bible should not be changed at all. While others have said that if this show has created meaningful conversations, than it is worth watching. I tend to agree with the latter. I have been told, that the series proclaims itself as a docudrama, so in my eyes, right up front they are being honest and saying it might not be 100% historically accurate. It's just like, when I try to explain the Holy Spirit through the metaphor of water or an egg. Is it biblically accurate? No, but I say that at the beginning before I use the metaphor, but it sure gets people thinking and wondering and asking questions, which I think is a good thing

Maybe this isn't the place to share this, but it is a visual storytelling medium. For the past 6 (going on 7) years, I draw out Bible stories on a white board every Sunday to a revolving group of 20-30 internationals (refugee, post doc, TA, Resident Scholars, Undergrads, etc from 19 different countries, all varying in English ability). One day I drew the story of Hannah and Peninnah on the dry erase board (this would have been March of 2011). A sweet yet unbelieving Chinese couple told me two weeks ago that when I told that story back then they did not know you could pray to God for a baby. Though coming from a blank background, they began praying to this God that I represent using a vague orange line. The baby boy is due next month and will be named David. If it was a girl, they were going to name her Hannah.

A worldview changed, a life was created and gifted an instant heritage - all from a story.  

And yes I had to sit in the corner for a long while to digest all that. Again, sorry if this isn't the forum for it. The power of bible storying is so potent that I wish I had time to tell more - it's just the most recent. Keep telling the Story... 

Key Payton said:

Indeed, Clyde!

And I'd like to ask everybody else in the VSN to chime in on THIS question: What are examples of visual stories that evoked WORLDVIEW CHANGE in you or your friends?

(Also, by "worldview change," I DON'T mean "macro" change — for example, all the way from atheist to believer. Rather, I mean any visual story that challenged some "micro" aspect of the multifaceted worldview you had been basing your identity on, and after that visual story was done, its implications "forced" you to reexamine that flawed identity anchor or worldview piece.)

For me, the JESUS film, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and TOY STORY 2 all fall into this category, along with several dozen others.

What about you and yours? And can we guess which worldview pieces were "shaken" and/or "altered" by these films?

Great STORY, Eric, and I'd love to see some samples of your work! Have you videotaped any of your story-drawing sessions?

I just attended three days of John Truby on the Anatomy of Story and found it excellent. Not only was it an excellent introduction to Story, I also came away with a better understanding of 'my story', but also the 'story' of the people around me. John's material is available in book-form and mp3, but for me, attending the live session in the Weston Hotel was the best.

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