Creating a quiet space within to listen to the story

Story telling

Published on May 2020

We often hear about story telling associated with video production, but what does telling a story really mean?

Back at university, we started telling a story by asking 'whose story are we telling?' Is it a person, an object, an idea? .... once we have that, then what? We write the beginning, middle, end, then add the 1st and 2nd turning point - The END. Well, that's a known structure of a story. However, just by following this structure it doesn't mean the story is told.

Working on this video made me think of a formula of how I listen to the story and I would like to share that with you.

Deb Maes & Divya Darling of (then) Intrinsic Brilliance Institute has a unique product to offer, a retreat called Inner Realm Immersion Sanctuary (IRIS) . Testimonials from previous retreats mention how transformative the retreat was and how much it inspired people in only a short period of time.

In March 2020, Deb and Divya invited me to come and gave me full creative control to produce a video that captures the heart of the retreat.

Most might categorise this type of production as an event coverage. I prefer to approach it as a documentary filmmaker and the story I am telling is the Retreat.

This is the video I produced which Divya described as 'wow did she amase us with what she produced! I was so captivated by the video I didn't want it to end!'

Any documentary filmmaker would love hearing that sort of comment, because it means we found the heart of the story and successfully brought that story to screen.


My formula was simple, I ‘created’ a silent space within me to fully observe.

I went with a good understanding of the landscape, and instead of constructing a story based on a known structure, I kept on asking the question of what is this that I am seeing, hearing and feeling.

Slowly, the heart of the story emerged and that’s what people refer to as the A-HA or a ‘lightbulb’ moment. For me it’s when I know the story I am telling is no longer a single dimension. Instead, it’s a rich 3 dimensional form with physical, emotional and physiological elements.

In post-production, that understanding helps me to find the right part of interviews to be used, the right B-roll, the right music and the whole process feels like a playground instead of a stressful process.

Does this apply to any production? It surely does, do you dare to try? I would love to hear your experience and learn your process too.


Sylvi Soe


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