The reason most journalists are journalists is this desire to help people- to tell their stories. MediaStorm has found a way to tell these stories in an innovative way. Their focus is “social documentary projects incorporating photojournalism, interactivity, animation, audio and video for distribution across multiple media.” Social documentary? Sounds right up my alley, right? Well, yes… but I have some qualms about their method, which I’ll get to later.
First of all, the story telling is amazing. Pieces are generally 10 minutes or more, and according to founder Brian Storm, most people who start the pieces end up finishing them- a rarity, even with much shorter videos. Love in the First Person is one great example of their story telling, showing the life of a college couple who find out she’s pregnant.
Another thing that sets MediaStorm apart is their use of photography in video. At first, I asked, “Why not just use video?” But I’ve come to the conclusion that photos can do a lot that photos can’t do, as they are able to capture just one moment in a way that is much more artistic than with video. Iraqi Kurdistan uses photos to show the daily life in that part of the world. This story was the result of a photojournalist who, after taking all of the pictures, wanted to make a video with them. The photos are used almost as a flipbook in places, showing motion.
Another stylistic thing I picked up for my documentary, “The Other Side of Paradise”, was the use of white text on black to move the story. This helps avoid more narration, which can be rather distracting. MediaStorm uses them well in their documentary on AIDS, BLOODLINE.
Now while their style and storytelling is very well done, I have one major qualm: What is the point of the stories? It doesn’t inform, at least not of anything bigger than a few stories, removed from the rest of reality. It definitely doesn’t educate on any issues. It doesn’t try to persuade the viewer of anything. It does entertain. But is this enough?
While watching these videos, I felt like they got close to touching on big issues, but they never quite took that extra step to actually do it. No larger context is given, so it isn’t really known if, say, there are places like the ninth floor all over New York, all over the US. It makes it seem like an island. And if someone is persuaded to do something, what can they do?
MediaStorm presents the stories as an end, where I think they would function better as a means to an end.