Sam Firman
Written by Sam Firman
Published on 12th July 2020
4 min read
This month we reached out to storytellers pushing adventure storytelling in interesting directions through mediums - some from the Adventure Uncovered community, and some whose work we’ve so far admired from afar - with a series of prompts.

Beyond the prompts themselves, we imposed no parameters. We have collected the responses to each prompt into crowdsourced articles. The third prompt, with responses collected here, was: What is one item you find invaluable for storytelling?

Colette McInerney - Climber, Photographer, Filmmaker and Co-Founder of the women-led filmmaking Never Not Collective, who we interviewed for this month’s Edition

Empathy sticks out the most for me at the moment, at least with documentary filmmaking. There can sometimes be a push and pull with “telling a story”, collecting the moments, getting the shot and putting it all together. It’s so very important not to lose sight of the human components to your film as those are the strongest elements.

'There can sometimes be a push and pull with “telling a story”, collecting the moments, getting the shot and putting it all together. It’s so very important not to lose sight of the human components to your film as those are the strongest elements.'

Colette McInerney

Films by Nomad - A creative collective specialising in moving-image storytelling

Taking the time to talk to people and find out as much as you can about them is paramount in being able to tell their best story. During a long interview, you find out so many interesting bits of information. Gems that you can then use to enhance your story by adding a rich variety to the narrative and visuals you then film. It gives the viewer a strong sense of who the character is and makes for a far more interesting story.

Jazz Austin - Watercolour Artist focusing on landscape

A small sketchbook - I use my sketchbook to make paintings of walks and trips by taking just 15-20 minutes to stop and paint along the way.

Jeff Bowman - Creative Director of sustainable outdoor brand Millican, which had two films - Here and A Meaningful Journey: Connection - featured in our 2020 Film Festival

A character. Someone or something to drive the narrative. I could have said humans, but nature has a voice, the planet, the ocean, the dog, the cat. But you need, for us anyway, something central to allow the story to be told.

Jen Larkin - Contemporary Artist whose work centres around walking, travel, wilderness and nature 

My most invaluable item for storytelling is a notebook, just something I can quickly get ideas down onto as I travel or cogitate, to be used as a resource, memory-jogger or raw material sometime later.

Jen Randall - Filmmaker, Photographer, Writer and Climber

As much as I hate to say it, a computer and editing software. I love to edit! That's where, if you're making a documentary, your story really comes together. You can plan, you can shoot, but it's not until you sit down to edit that you really start to see what it is you've made and get the chance to piece it together.

Claire Carter and Jen Randall climbing on Skye while filming Operation Moffat

Photo: Paul Diffley

Jessica Lee - Author, Environmental Historian and Founding Editor of The Willowherb Review

A reference of some kind: be it a map, a plant key, and list of historic place names. Something that helps uncover layers in both cultural relationships and time passing.

Jini Reddy - Journalist and Author (most recently of Wanderland) who we interviewed for June’s UK Edition

A waterproof notepad for taking notes whilst out and about.

Karen Parry  - CEO of The Creative Chilli, improving diversity across third sector and cultural organisations, and Host of the Swim Wild Podcast

Curiosity. Ask – all the time be asking questions. Look for the stories that are missing: what isn’t being said, what isn’t being seen, whose voice isn’t out there, what kinds of adventures are not being seen.

Kody Kohlman - Filmmaker whose trail running film, Par for the Course, we screened at our film festival this year 

Adaptability. Storytelling is on the fly. Things change, plans fall through, an unexpected storm comes, someone doesn't show up, it’s really early, it’s really late, it’s really cold, it’s really windy, it’s really hot, your monitor breaks, your battery is blinking, you rolled your ankle, you locked your keys in your car. It seems like it never ends and there’s always an additional challenge aside from documenting the story. I firmly believe being adaptable to these situations (and making sure your team is adaptable) is the biggest key to success.

Laura Mahler -  Environmental Researcher and Documentary Filmmaker who has written for Adventure Uncovered before

It’s just the notes app on my phone. If I’m walking around listening to a podcast or in the  pub having a chat with a friend and I get an idea - and you know, 9/10 are rubbish, but one is great! - I just need something to stick it down, because I’m not going to ever remember that. So for me it’s just having something on hand for when a story idea comes up.

Michal Iwanowski - Documentary Photographer whose Go Home Polish project we discussed with him for June’s UK Edition

A good story. One that manages to talk about the universal perspective while narrating something personal. In my experience, these kinds of stories almost tell themselves, if you let them.

'A good story. One that manages to talk about the universal perspective while narrating something personal. In my experience, these kinds of stories almost tell themselves, if you let them.'

Michal Iwanowski

Philippe Woodtli - Managing Director of WOOP Productions, Director of Silence: Born Severely Deaf (an Official Selection at the 2020 Adventure Uncovered Film Festival)

A lot of young folks (I wasn’t any better for a very long time) believe that they need the latest gear. The best camera. The newest drone to come up with a great story. It doesn’t matter at all. You can film your story with an iPhone. If it’s good… people will be hooked and watch it. It really just doesn’t matter how it’s done.

Shelby Stanger - Podcast Host, Producer, Journalist, Writer and Speaker

Your ears. Being a good listener makes for being a great storyteller. Also, laughter. If you can make someone laugh while telling a story, you have just made their day and they will remember what you told them.

New Vitamin Joy Podcast

Shelby duck diving

Sim Warren - Filmmaker whose two films for Millican - Here and A Meaningful Journey: Connection - we featured in our 2020 Film Festival

Time. You can’t tell a story from behind a laptop screen about a person you haven’t met yet.  You need to go meet them, spend time with them and learn from them.