The Power of Storytelling
Have you ever wondered how filmmakers create compelling stories that evoke so many emotions for us as viewers—even though we're just sitting in our homes, watching on a screen? Today, we'll learn about the power of storytelling and explore how film studios like Pixar use images to bring stories to life. Then you'll get the chance to create a short film all about...you.
what you’ll need
- A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
- A sketchbook or a journal with blank paper
- A pencil
- A mobile phone or tablet with a camera
- Crayons, colored pencils, or markers
Ask About Today
How are stories told through film? Where do filmmakers start when creating a movie?
If our family was turned into a Pixar film, what would the movie be about? What would the characters be like?
Skip the Ads
Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.
Before you can become a movie director and producer, you'll need to understand some of the techniques used to create powerful stories through film.
Take a virtual tour and see how they make their movies came to life at the legendary Pixar studios, step by step: beginning with the story and artwork stage.
Tune in for a quick introduction to Pixar's storytelling process. After watching the video, ask yourself: Why is it important for a story to be more than just monsters and explosions? How does the director of Monsters, Inc. (2001) tell a story that other people can relate to? If you were going to tell a story from your life, what would it be?
Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.
Watch the preview for Pixar's Coco (2017). After watching, jot in a journal or on a scrap paper: How does the clip tell a relatable story in just a few minutes?
Here's one more to check out: the Oscar-winning short film Hair Love (2019). When you're done, reflect on the emotions evoked in the film: What emotions does the main character reveal? Have you ever felt this way before? When?
Pixar's Secret Formula
Shhhh, here's Pixar's secret formula for making perfect films.
For younger explorers
All About Characters
Watch Hair Love and the preview of Coco, in the activities above. Then check out this video from Pixar about characters. Did you know that every story has characters? Who is your favorite character from a story, movie, or cartoon? Why is that character your favorite? How does that character feel? Draw a picture of the character you love and write about why they are your favorite. Explain why they are special to you and how they make you feel.
How does Pixar create such tear-jerking films that also fill audiences with joy and laughter? Through the power of storytelling...and computer programming.
Dive into the world of Pixar and learn about their strategies for movie-making magic. Check out the Guiding Questions and Discussion activities to the right when you're done.
For younger explorers
Read Along with Up
Read along with this story about the characters from the film Up (2009).
Creating a storyboard is the first step to making a movie. Your unique perspective is your super power for creating the storyline for your film.
Pick a Memory
Think of an especially vivid memory—the kind of memory that comes easily to you. Maybe this was a defining moment in your life, or something that makes you who you are today. Why do you think you remember this so well? How did you feel at the time? Try connecting one or more emotions to this memory.
Now let's get your memory out of your head. Express your memory in whatever way works best for you. For example, you could:
1. Share your memory out loud with someone you know, like a sibling or parent. Can you make them feel the emotion you felt in that moment? If you have a voice memo function on your phone or tablet, record yourself verbally expressing this memory.
2. Write your memory in less than a page. Do the emotions come out in your words?
3. Visualize your memory in a drawing. How do the emotions come out visually, through the lines, shapes, and colors you draw?
Draw Your Storyboard
It's time to make your storyboard! Check out the storyboard from Lilo and Stitch (2002) as an example. When you're ready, take a blank piece of paper and draw 6 squares. (Here's an example.) Sketch out one important scene from your memory in each square. At the bottom of each box, write in any important details describing each scene. Bring it all to life by adding some color to your illustrations.
Have some fun with movie-related games.
Disney Memory Games
Filmmakers have to keep their minds and memories sharp. Exercise your own memory with these games, featuring some familiar movie characters.
For younger explorers
Act It Out
Can you bring a character to life? Everybody can become an actor. Think of a character you love. Talk the way they talk, walk the way they walk—even dance the way they dance! See if your family members can guess who you are.
The magic of a movie is the powerful story it tells. We connect with movies because they are personal, and we see a piece of ourselves in the movie. Let's try some mini movie-making of our own.
Your Story of Self
Take a walk with your sibling or a family member today. With your guardian's permission and supervision, take your phone with you and film the walk as you go. As you walk, talk about your personal story—your "story of self." How did you become the person you are today? What people and experiences have shaped you? What about your walking buddy: How have they influenced your life? Observe your neighborhood as you're walking, and ask yourself what kinds of stories you see around you.
Stay Safe: Make sure to stay socially distanced on your walk, and please don't film other people without asking their permission. (If you're walking without your parent or guardian, keep your filming to yourself, your buddy, and your surroundings—no strangers, please.)
more to explore
Love the magic of movies? Explore some more!