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Short Films – Big Impact

the strategy behind producing micro-documentaries that engage your audience

 

As a communicator at a purpose-driven organization, a compelling video—especially a micro-documentary featuring a personal narrative—is one of the best tools you have to raise funds, shift the conversation around your movement.

However, producing a compelling video with an engaging story that will inspire action is easier said than done. It’s not just a matter of hiring a professional videographer—no matter how good they are. That will give you hit-or-miss results, at best.

So how might you get more consistent results from your videos so that they can engage your audience and help to advance your movement?

That’s the inquiry that got us started on developing this curriculum.

"I showed up thinking I already knew how to tell our story visually. I left understanding that there were whole new possibilities for reaching and resonating with our audience. With a nice blend of lecture and personalized exercises, practical examples and strategic frameworks, Natasha made this course focused, fun and immensely useful."

Kot Hordynski
Director of Marketing & Impact, ICA Fund Good Jobs

"I recommend this course for anyone who is working to share the story of their purpose-driven organization. In place of traditional advertising and self-promotion, Natasha teaches you how to craft powerful editorial content that makes an emotional connection with your audience and frames your organization as an inspiring voice for change and possibility."

Halley Bass
Business Coach and Web Designer, Halley Claire Design

Our Story

Hi — I’m Natasha, author and teacher of this course.

I was 22 years old when I was sent on my first extensive photographic assignment, as the recipient of a public service fellowship from Stanford University.

I remember pinching myself to know if it was real: three months in Nepal to document the lives of children so that local nonprofit organizations could use them better engage their supporters.

This was one of the photos I took during that trip. I also dreamed of making short films in Nepal, but it was still too expensive to do that.

It would take years for technology to catch up to my dreams. But when it did, I was more than ready!

As soon as the new cameras made cinematic storytelling more affordable than ever before, I started Micro-Documentaries and we were back in the Himalayas (filming this time), and in Africa, Latin America and in my own backyard in San Francisco. In a few short years, we had captured visual stories of visionaries in more than 30 different countries in order to inspire others to join them in their missions. We produced many more micro-documentaries than any other group we knew of.

It has been a wildly enriching experience for which we are infinitely grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our micro-documentaries have been honored at film festivals, shared by mass media channels like Upworthy and Fast Company, screened for the likes of Obama and the Dalai Lama, featured on Time Square and shown on the screens of Carnegie Hall. They have reached expansive organic viewership online and have been broadcast to millions of people. The films have also been used for raising funds, strengthening thought leadership and advance movements.

This course comes from the exact blueprint of what we learned along the way so that you can stand on our shoulders and discover how to regularly deliver your own consistently-compelling visual stories.

Ready to host a workshop?

"In a quick, easy-to-digest format, this training will teach you how to create a compelling visual story that leaves the viewer inspired and wanting to know more."

Peggy Propp
Special Initiatives Program Director, Stanford University

"Visual storytelling is hard to get right. This course helped demystify the art form with lots of nuts and bolts strategies, worksheets and experience-based theories."

David Griswold
Founder & CEO, Sustainable Harvest

"Natasha presented the course material with the perfect level of depth — succinct but thorough with just the right amount of real-world examples and meditative interludes."

Bill Dannon
Director of Industry Communications, Autodesk

What's Covered?

Please know — we have not held back. In this curriculum, we share our very best secrets that we have iterated on over the course of producing more than two thousands short films. They way we see it, this is our way of being a small part of advancing your vision for a better tomorrow. Ultimately, this is what motivates us to do this work.

Curriculum

Three main modules provide the framework and methodology for you to develop skills and confidence for touching more hearts and inspiring more action with your visual stories.


WELCOME MODULE

In the Welcome Module you get an introduction to the author of the curriculum, what brought her to this work and why she cares so much about your success in visual storytelling and in advancing purposeful movements. We also map out the course journey so that you know exactly how we are getting from here to the finish line. And finally, we get on the same page about exactly what we mean by story – especially to make sure we can clearly distinguish it from a presentation.


MODULE 1 – FRAMEWORK – Draft a More Engaging Overarching Narrative Framework

We start at the top looking at your overarching story or the narrative framework for your organization or your department. Is it too focused on issues? Or too focused on solutions? Both are problematic for different reasons.

An issue-leading framework tends to depress audiences because of the over-emphasis of issues in the news. However, a solution-leading framework is not ideal either, because it has been over-used in the commercial world. When you lead with your solution, you risk putting your audience on guard by making them feel like you’re try to sell them something.

So — we’ll explore frameworks that are go beyond issues and solutions and are more suitable for purpose-driven organizations — frameworks that draw your audience in, that stimulate their curiosity and that wake up their creativity.

YOU WALK AWAY WITH: A new draft of your Updated Overarching Narrative Framework

Your framework will provide the context for your stories. The relationship between a framework and a story is a bit like that between a Christmas tree and the ornaments. The framework is the tree — and the stories are the myriad colorful figures that will light it up. In the morning, we'll focus on the tree.

A natural place for your Framework is on the landing page of your visual stories and in the descriptions of your visual stories. Including it in your media pitches will also make it a lot easier for bloggers and journalists to write about your short films and other visual stories and to place them in context in an editorial way for their audience.


MODULE 2 – STORIES – Bring Your Framework to Life Through Visual Stories

Next we’ll dive into the heart of the matter—the micro-documentaries themselves. You'll learn which stories are best suited for you to bring your overarching framework to life and you’ll learn the vocabulary for making effective visual requests form your videographers. You’ll get clear on how to distinguish between a story and a presentation and we'll demystify the anatomy, the components that make a visual story compelling. We’ll show you our very best secrets for captivating your audience visually and touching their hearts through your videos.

We’ll also explore humanization and stereotypes. Specifically, you will learn how to apply the right antidote to the stereotype that is getting in the way of you accomplishing your mission.

YOU WALK AWAY WITH: A fresh list of ideas for compelling photo and video stories, a system to rank and prioritize them for production and clarity for how to ensure that they will translate well visually. You’ll also have a clear process to determine which antidote to apply to each stereotype that you are having to deal with.


MODULE 3 – FLOW – Support the Creative Flow of your Videographers

Finally, we'll walk you through step-by-step guidelines of exactly what you can do to support the creative flow of your production and the things that you should avoid doing when you are working photographers and videographers. [Not that you’re doing any of those things — but it’s still good to know.]

Becoming a more confident creative collaborator puts you in a better position to get the best visual stories from visual professionals.

YOU WALK AWAY WITH: A Set of Detailed Creative Collaboration Guidelines

With these in had you will gain more confidence and be more effective when collaborating with photographers and filmmakers.


CLOSING MODULE – MINDSET

In closing, we look at how you nourish your clarity, perspective and courage, so that you can bring your best self to your storytelling.

YOU WALK AWAY WITH: A refreshed and more expansive understanding of your potential as a communicator as well as with a personal nourishment program for regularly strengthening clarity, perspective and courage within yourself. This way you will be more likely to deliver visual stories that are more inclusive and inspiring rather than polarizing and combative.

A complete visual storytelling toolkit you can use over and over again

Each Module is complete with document templates, checklists and reference sheets that are ready for you to customize and to put into use for consistent and compelling results. With these in hand, the knowledge you gain in the course is translated into practical action.

"This workshop gave me the tools to demystify the visual storytelling process and helped me understand how to tell stories that better support your mission and achieve greater social impact. I’m excited to share everything I learned with our team and investees."

Melanie Finke
Director of Communcations & Operations, NESsT

"Watching videos with Natasha and seeing the world through her lens was incredibly valuable. So too were the step-by-step breakdowns, methods and models for developing a clear vision for a story and creating emotional connection with an audience."

Alyshia Silva
Director of Development, Food First/Institute for Food & Development Policy

"This workshop teaches you how to identify and tell the best stories for your organization through short films. I loved the strategies for how to get personal with your audience, humanize characters, avoid reinforcing stereotypes and inspire people with possibilities."

Erin Thompson
National Marketing Coordinator, Canine Companions

Would you like to discuss options for a private workshop?

This is not film school. This course is NOT intended to turn you into a filmmaker and it’s not intended to give you the technical skills to film, edit and compose.

It will, however, put you in a much better position to consistently get the best work from your photographers and videographers so that you can touch more hearts and inspire more action.

About Your Instructor

Natasha Deganello Giraudie is a filmmaker, teacher and nature-mindfulness guide. As Creative Director of Micro-Documentaries, she helped to pioneer the genre by producing short films to help purpose-driven organizations around the world share their visions for a better tomorrow. Natasha is the author of this course and a frequent teacher at universities like Stanford and a variety of purpose-driven organizations. As a nature-mindfulness guide she helps people reconnect deeply with nature in order to find support for their personal practice and more alignment in their lives. She currently chairs the board of directors of the Dalai Lama Fellows and serves as an Advisor for the Biomimicry Institute.

 

"Mind-blowing! I have been writing and producing stories for more than 20 years, but what I learned today left me more inspired and better equipped to make impactful, compelling content."

Kylee Swenson
Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Owned Media/Editor in Chief of Redshift at Autodesk

"Want to learn how to craft a powerful vision aligned with your mission and tell your story in a thoughtful, compelling and clearly intentioned way? Don’t miss this workshop."

Matt Bautista
Queer Land Trust

"As a newcomer to storytelling, I worried that the workshop would be beyond me. Natasha quickly dispelled those concerns with her warmth, her stories and her invaluable frameworks and approaches to visual storytelling. So grateful!"

Yvette Zepeda
Manager, Stanford University

"Taking a storytelling project from idea generation to production can be overwhelming. This course was full of practical help, reinforced at every step with tools and worksheets that helped me take ownership of the material."

Virginia Bock
Communications Manager, Stanford University

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for communicators working in purpose-driven organizations who are actively including visual storytelling in their communications plans and for visionaries putting forth a path for a better tomorrow for all of us.

Creative professionals like photographers and filmmakers who work, or aspire to work, with purpose-driven visionaries and are looking to strengthen their skills in visual storytelling are also welcome.

 

What is the return on investment?

What would it be worth to you and your organization if:

  • You didn't have to spend dozens of hours and tens of thousands of dollars reinventing the wheel of visual-storytelling?
  • You didn’t have to produce another photo or video story that fell flat?
  • You could significantly advance your organization’s mission with compelling visual storytelling?
  • You could energize your team by showing them results of their hard work?

"This training is a blueprint for the best way to communicate ideas and turn any story into something more socially useful, this course is a must attend."

Dave Amin
MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAP, Monj Health, Inc.

"I left this training feeling empowered. I now understand how visual storytelling can be used to achieve a greater purpose: a shift in consciousness."

Nathalie Figueroa
Business Development Associate, NESsT

"A very engaging workshop that covers all the bases for making short films in the modern world, from strategy to storytelling to production."

Andy Westhoff
Visual Storyteller, Autodesk

"Natasha is a very engaging presenter with a unique perspective. She opened my eyes to a new approach to visual storytelling."

Bob Kelly
Global Content Manager, Autodesk

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