Digital Storytelling – Not for the faint hearted

Digital Storytelling (DS) has been around for quite a few years now. The MRC first started incorporating it into their programs around 4 years ago under the passionate command of Martin Potter. It is a form of audio-visual storytelling that is simple in form, short in length and for those who are not necessarily filmmakers but interested in the form.

The professional screen industry does not embrace this artform as a matter of course, placing it in the ‘community programs’ basket. While I was around the MRC when Martin was setting up our DS program, I had not engaged with it until I undertook a course in the 2010 Seniors on Screen program. I was young enough to be the grand daughter of some participants but that did not matter; I was there to learn. The film I made called Rain, a 2-minute piece for my son, explaining why we named him Rain.

It was by doing rather just observing I was able to experience the powerful force of DS. Not for the faint hearted, the tutors encouraged participants to share their story – a moment in their life – then peel away the layers to get to the heart of its emotion and core. There were tears and laughter as everyone openly shared their stories, with relative strangers, in what we call the ‘story circle’. The next phase was marrying those words with pictures and sounds to create short digital stories.

Using industry professionals and broadcast standard equipment the MRC delivers an intense yet comprehensive short course. With participants writing, recording and editing their stories in just 3 days (no mean feat).

Over the past few weeks, followers of MRC’s tweets would have heard rambling words of awe and inspiration from me as I conducted a series of DS workshops for our Mindshare website (to be launched during Mental Health Week). By stepping out of the course and overseeing it I was able to see the full force of what DS can do.

Most participants were mental health clients and embraced this opportunity to share with the world how they came to terms with their illness. They are not downbeat or unfortunate stories but ones of strength and hope. By the end of the course they were liberated and empowered.

The mental health clients and support workers we worked with stood strong with their stories. They shared their heartbreak, their hurdles and some even shared stories they have been trying to write for years.

My team and I are very proud with what we achieved over the past few weeks. It was a refreshing reality check on what we as filmmakers can really do.

– Louise, MRC Digital Media Officer