Stories have the power to change the world. Each story is a rallying cry—to unite, to empower, to heal. And we believe that everyone should have that power.
Story certainly changed our world.
Stillmotion started out as a band of wedding videographers. And now, 10 years later, we’ve worked with some of the greats (Canon, Apple, NFL, Toyota), won 5 Emmys, and given talks and workshops around the world.
So, what happened between then and now?
In a world where we see nearly 5,000 ads a day, where our attention spans are dwindling as quickly as our levels of trust, story lets us cut through the noise. Story has the ability, like a magnet, to draw people to the things that matter. It’s our way to guide hearts and move minds.
We’re passionate about story, and we wanted to bring that passion into our work with weddings. We felt that the couples we were working with deserved to have a personalized experience, not a cookie-cutter wedding film. So, we started developing our storytelling chops and applying them to our work.
One of these films—the story of JC and Esther—went viral and got hundreds of thousands of views. One of those views was by someone at the NFL. She appreciated our approach to story and wanted to see what we could do with football. In a week, we went from hotel ballrooms to all-access at the NFL playoffs. That relationship got us noticed by CBS, which led to the DP and camerawork for the feature documentary A Game of Honor, which went on to win 3 Emmys.
We really started getting hungry for the possibility of stepping out and telling our own stories. At perhaps just the right time, we came across a story in the Huffington Post about a 9-year-old girl using lemonade to fight child slavery. What started out as just a 5-minute film we could donate to the family, turned into our studio’s first feature-length documentary, #standwithme.
Throughout our journey, we saw incredible value in sharing what we were learning with other filmmakers. After all, that’s what story is all about—sharing the experience of one so that it might help another.
Over the years we partnered with large brands, such as Canon, to adventure across the country and put on workshops. Our first tour was in 2010. This was the Canon Cinema Caravan, which saw our team literally traveling on a tour bus across the US for a dozen workshops. That then grew into a 30-city tour with KNOW in 2012.
Through hundreds of workshops we made amazing connections with other creatives, we were seeing a real impact, and our own understanding of storytelling was growing deeper.
The Development of Muse
Over the years we’ve taught on the technical side of filmmaking, how our decisions affect story, and different storytelling practices. In 2013 we partnered with Vimeo to create a Storytelling the Stillmotion Way series of tutorials that were brought to the world entirely free.
This series of tutorials was our first attempt at building an A-to-Z storytelling process that could be a massive jump for filmmakers in how they develop and tell their stories. It was in this series that we debuted the 4 Pillars of story: People, Places, Purpose, and Plot.
Our model was very tangible and accessible so we were on to something, but it still wasn’t right. There were gaps between some of the steps that were just far too large. And parts of the model were light on research and instead offered technical advice.
So we hit the books and looked to take this original series of tutorials into something much more robust. Something that went way beyond Stillmotion and could bring together the thinking and research from the strongest ideas on story across time.
We locked ourselves in one of the studio conference rooms often until the wee hours of the night. There was a lot of research, looking at our experience, and examining some of the best work out there.
From that emerged Muse, a storytelling process designed to help inspire the best in you. It’s still built on the 4 Pillars of story, but maximizes each pillar in deeper and more thoughtful ways. All together, this is the process that truly helps you go from having an inspiration or a client brief, to having a fully developed story that the client loves and delivers on your goals.
The Storytelling With Heart tour in 2014 went across 29 cities and was the public debut of Muse.
It was our first step in sharing Muse with a large group of people to see if this was what we thought it was (something that could make a huge impact in the storytelling space). We then took that experience and looked to build it into a powerful online experience. We knew we couldn’t just record the workshop and post it online—the experience just simply wouldn’t be strong enough. So we looked for ways to make the online experience more interactive and adaptable than what can happen with live learning.
A year later we debuted Muse in our online platform with a week-long Pilot Program. We had an internal goal of reaching 1,000 people in the first 90 days. If we were able to reach that, Muse would be able to stand on its own and have the resources to continue to be developed.
Within the first 7 days we reached those 1,000 people. We were totally blown away and it was an amazing statement about the need for what we’d built.
Between then and now we’ve been constantly improving both the Muse process as well as the learning experience around it. We’ve found ways to simplify the process and help creatives get to stronger results even faster. And we’ve added on modules to help with how to present the process to clients, using it to increase business, as well as how these same storytelling principles can be used in how we tell our own stories (of our business and what we do).
The Muse of today is, at its core, the same as the one launched in 2014. We’ve been able to simplify things a good deal which enabled certain portions to be even more practical. And we went even deeper in the sections that are the toughest to master, such as plot.
It’s been so special to see the impact Muse has had on filmmakers across the globe–folks getting more business, having better client relations, winning contests, landing the biggest gig of their life, and much, much more.
On top of that, we’ve received some amazing words from leading scientists and authors within the storytelling space. A huge testament to the time and thought we’ve devoted to Muse.
Our commitment is to do all we can to bring you the best storytelling tools out there. That means that the concepts are practical to the work you do, the ideas are backed by science, and that it’s a fun and structured learning environment (so that you will take the time to deeply understand the concepts).
We believe story can, and should be, more approachable and accessible. And so we’ve taken our decade of experience at Stillmotion and paired that with an insatiable appetite for scientific research.
It’s our hope to empower you with the process and thinking. If you’re willing to put in the time, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for each step of the way, and you’ll have the confidence that you’ll come out the other end with a powerful story that can truly guide hearts and move minds.