Photo: Former Chance Multimedia Intern and Video Slayer Muffy Robinson, shooting on the Silkology set.
By Muffy Robinson
“Well, what is it exactly that you want to do?”
I’ve always dreaded answering this question, mostly because it seems impossible to answer, but mainly because I don’t even know where to begin. I’m sure I’m not the only one in my position who feels this way.
I’m a recent college grad—having just received my master’s degree—looking for a career in a bleak economy, in a field of journalism that many say is dying- I say transitioning - all the while trying to maintain some sort of semblance of who I am and what I want out of life.
And to tap off that hunt for the elusive career, I’m also relocating to a new city. Scary right?
Truth be told, I’m a bit of a control freak, so for me yes, it is a little daunting, but it shouldn’t be, and here is why.
I’ve been working for Chance Multimedia as an intern editing video (with the affectionate title of Video Slayer). The most important lesson I’ve learned from this internship and Chance’s business model is that multimedia story telling is (what I hope will be) a new format of journalism.
So, what exactly is multimedia story telling then?
I’ve struggled with that phrase since I first heard it from one of my professors, and I may even still be struggling with it now. On a basic level, it seemed to be the combination of video, still photography and audio into a video reel; upon further glance, it appeared to be low budget advertising that non-profits had access to. Little did I know that I had it all wrong. That’s when Chance Multimedia was added to my resume and the definition of multimedia finally became clear.
Multimedia story telling is creating stories that are told through any and every means of achieving a compelling, creative truth.
In this new model, the line between advertising and old school journalism is blurred into a new model of creative story telling. Stories that can be and are visually beautiful, stories where people have their own voice rather than having their story regurgitated by a news anchor, stories that make you want to purchase, support, or be a part of something, stories that aren’t formulaic and determine their own way of being told. Perhaps even stories where few words are ever exchanged.
How did I come to this definition?
Well, I’m not the kind of person who wants to change the world. In fact, I’m not convinced I even care if I make a difference in it. I’m the kind of person that just wants to share in and be a part of life. I’m guessing there are lots of us out there, but few have had the same opportunity that I have, to work with James and Jessica Chance.
I didn’t initially see my viewpoint aligning with James’ and Jessica’s when I first arrived at Chance. I was—and still am—interested in fashion, sports and urban culture, and their passions lie more within the realm of human rights. But it is the medium they use to inform people of their interests that directly correlates with my own interests: visual story telling.
While I’m sure James and Jessica don’t consider much of their work journalistic or would call themselves reporters, what they do is similar in my eyes. Ultimately they are giving the viewer information that someone (usually their client) deems important information to be known. In a news room, the only difference is the news director or producer is the one selecting what information is important enough to make the air. The largest difference in Chance’s stories from a journalist’s is the way they put together the information. All of the information is still completely the truth but it’s being told through the voice of the subject, not a third party alternative, such as a reporter or a news anchor. There are no voiceovers to make a story connect and only the information that was gathered can make the final edit. For me it’s a lot like that childhood game of telephone: the more people that try to interpret the message, the more muddled it becomes. The Chances have cut out the middleman in their stories and I have a feeling the general population would trust mass media slightly more if journalism were to do the same.
I do realize there is an obvious problem in transitioning journalism into multimedia; time. Multimedia takes a little more finesse and requires a lot more tweaks than a news story might. Here at Chance, I have been afforded the luxury of longer deadlines and fewer stories. Will it ever work in a news information capacity? I don’t know, but I sure hope so. I might actually start watching then.
I have taken away a lot from the Chances, but for me, the most beneficial was the basic purpose of a story and how to tell it. I learned that, when done well, a story will weave together pieces of information to create a message and the intent of that message is to make the viewer believe. Whether that belief is thinking Bryan Dayton makes one mean cocktail with Silk milk or the belief that the stories of people living in a cemetery in Manila are worth hearing, the point is to see and believe. Nothing more, nothing less. If the viewer feels a call to action or is inclined to initiate change, then the story has accomplished a positive reaction and I would consider it a success.
Today, we all want to be entertained, not see an outline of what someone else deems are important events we should know about. So, what better way to meet that demand than through multimedia story telling? This is how I hope journalism is changing. Changing to be more compelling and innovative. I’m confident the rest of the journalism world will come around and see my viewpoint; it just may take some time.
So let me take another stab at that dreaded question. What exactly is it that I want to do?
I want to tell stories. Stories about fashion, designers, sports, city events, maybe even stories for advertising firms. And it just so happens that the way I’m going to do that is through a camera lens and a Final Cut keyboard (or Premiere Pro, thanks to James and Jessica).
So one last question. Am I afraid of finding a job, in a new career field and in a new city?
Definitely not. I’m all too happy searching for a career in this current grey area better known as multimedia and am confident I am more than equipped with the skill sets to be competitive in this transforming industry.
Oh, and if you know of anyone hiring for the position of Video Slayer, please pass along my information.