How a bad Storyteller can deliver your most Authentic Story

Post by Bryce McCoy

Authentic Storytelling

Being our most authentic self, showing our vulnerability and rawness can be something most of us shy away from. But really, having a ‘bad’ storyteller show up on shoot can actually make your story more authentic. And people dig it.  Think about it. We all connect with each other based on the emotions that make us all feel “human”. It’s proven.


The Definition of Bad

The Dictionary function within my Mac’s search bar defines bad as: “Not able to do a particular thing well.” Within the current zeitgeist of ‘authenticity’, who makes a good subject for an interview?

One way we relate to each other day to day is through our flaws and our vulnerabilities – it’s what makes us human and helps us connect. Storytelling through documentary filmmaking is no different. There really is no such thing as ‘bad’ when it comes to Storytelling.

See Lindsay’s Streets Barber Story or the Brim Silo Art Trail documentary to see the rawness of Storytelling.


‘Good’ vs. ‘Bad’

Authentic storytelling requires someone to put themselves on the line. They fear they will say the wrong thing or people will judge them. When people say “I’m not good at being on camera” it really means “I’m not good at making myself vulnerable.” The ability to be ‘bad’ on camera, and be okay with it, is actually good.

Generally, the people who are ‘good on camera’ are the ones with enough experience or technique at masking their vulnerabilities. They may be a good communicator and capable of a good chat, but that doesn’t mean they will make for an authentic story. Smashing out a weekend at Toastmasters isn’t much use here.

On the contrary, people with less experience tend to want to know the questions beforehand as they start over preparing within their own head. They probably imagine the way the shoot will go, how they think others will view them, or how they think they should be viewed. All these narratives start to cloud people, and make for an uncompelling story.


The Directors Role

The role of a Director is to help guide the subject to where you want them to go. Hold their hand a little bit and legitimately connect with your subject so they trust you. Start a relationship with them, and gain their trust, and allow them to understand and connect with you. Show them your previous work so they know you’re not some cowboy ready to screw them over. Then they will feel comfortable and start to open up, and know that the flaws within their spontaneity is the gold you are desperately looking for.


Cohesive Storytelling

Yer great, so, we have what we deem to be a somewhat ‘rough’ story, now how do you turn the story into one of authenticity, and potentially bad (or not great) storyteller, into a cohesive story? Editing baby! Which I will discuss in Part 2 soon: How authentic can a story be if it’s highly manipulated?