The Future of Storytelling — Big Screen and Small

Hugh Hart (@hughhart) recently wrote an article for Fast Company (@FastCoCreate), Movie Meltdown, $100 Tickets, And Dream Control: Lucas and Spielberg Forecast The Future Of Entertainment. In the piece, Hart shares eleven predictions made by the two storytelling geniuses, illuminating what the future of the big screen might, and might not, look like.

Becoming part of the movie, tapping into dream-tainment, games melding with movies and sensors taking the place of joysticks, controllers and devices insert audience members directly into the movie-going experience in the not too distant future. Big movies will garner higher ticket prices. Niche audiences will support indie filmmaking careers. I like the sound of this —

But what will remain unchanged is the need for good stories. As Spielberg says,

…show business, past, present, and future, depends on stories worth telling. “The thing I emphasize to everybody who comes to work at my company is, don’t play with the toys until you have something to say.”

As I prepare for a talk to be given at the National Quality Colloquium’s Innovation Track this September (Using Storytelling to Change Behavior), I have been pouring through reading on the topic of story, and how it can help change behavior. Having been part of the team that created the Tears to Transparency series, I am continuously reminded first-hand just how powerful patient stories are — to providers, as well as patients. Every time we share Lewis’ or Michael’s story–stories of harm at the hands of those entrusted to care for them–it is visibly apparent that medical students, residents, care providers and patient advocate audiences alike all feel the weight of the families’ loss. From the tears shed to the gratitude expressed for sharing these stories, a collective desire to do better for all patients permeates the room.

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 10.22.22 PMMost recently, I’ve been reading Lisa Cron’s (@LisaCron), Wired for Story, which has not only provided a number of pearls for my talk, but also a reminder of just how powerful the brain is in creating its own, very real, physiologic reality when engaged in reading or watching a story unfold. According to Cron’s research, stories–when told by writers who understand how to create characters we can relate to, and then place them in a world that provides just the right combination of conflict, resolution and reward–supply a pure dopamine rush to the reader, an almost addictive reward in itself.

We have written about the “how tos” and “whys” re:the use of story in healthcare a number of times (see Storytelling Tips from the Pros,  Developing Storytelling Skills via TEDxEaling,  Storytelling and the Reality of Medicine, Using Storytelling…to Develop Empathy, The Power of Storytelling in Medicine). As a fan and student of good stories, I am not surprised at the mounting research and resources teaching craft. Research studies, mainstream authors and marketing gurus all point to the innate need we all have to make sense of life via stories. Stay tuned for more advice from the pros.

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