Performing a story to camera can sometimes be daunting, but by following some simple steps it can become a fun, exciting and rewarding experience. These steps will also help to ensure your audience will be able to understand and enjoy your story. (See Teachers notes below)
Step One: Choosing your story.
It is very important that you like the story you have chosen. It could be a story you have made yourself or one written or told to you by others.
It might contain features that you like: a friendship dispute, a Zombie attack, a rescue, loneliness, joy, a danger averted, the making of a superhero, a day out or some magic. You might like the overall genre of a story: historical, science fiction, comedy, horror, traditional or fairy tale. In every story there is something that will appeal to somebody.
Make sure that your chosen story is one that you want to tell.
Step Two: Practicing and becoming familiar with your story
The most important feature when telling an oral tale is not the collection of words that make the story, but the vivid images you make in your mind when you read or hear it.
Ask someone, a friend or parent, to read the story to you.
You will find that you are creating features that are not in the words.
There might be a character in the story that is not described.
You may notice that the character is dressed in a particular way or has a particular voice.
This also goes for settings and any other items in the story.
Remember colours, sounds, smells and the feel of things.
You now have a set of images that tumble into each other and lead you on until the end. But if the story is long and contains lots of action and movement, you might find it difficult to remember what happens next.
Grab a piece of paper and make a key word summary of the story.
Just one word for each piece of movement. No more than 6 words in total.
Now tell the story to yourself Some people like to tell it silently. Others need to say it out loud to taste the words.
I recommend a space, the playground or the hall. Start to walk.
The act of walking frees up the mind and allows you to begin to concentrate on the story.
Your body will fall into a rhythm allowing you to begin to cut out all distractions and begin to focus on the story, excluding everything else.
Do not be afraid to start speaking aloud.
In the practice you do not have to be perfect. It might even be better if you are not.
When you start your telling to camera other things may occur to you that you haven’t noticed before. It is good to have the flexibility and space to be able to include those things without upsetting the flow of the story.
But don’t get carried away by improvisation, keep to the direction of the story.
Remember an oral story can change every time you tell it.
The story is now in your mind. You have told it at least once to yourself, you may even have even practised it to another person or a group. It is still a sequence of images and parts of it may be misty and the images undefined. Don’t worry; it will all take shape in the telling. Relax and remember as soon as you start to tell, your audience will stop watching you and see the images in their minds.
Step Three: Performing and Recording your story.
Make sure you are comfortable in your chair before you begin recording.
You should be able to have other people there if they need them, but if you don’t maybe they can sit outside of your eye-line.
Check that all the equipment is ready before you begin recording. (see teacher notes)
Just before you begin, think of the ending of the story. That is the part you need to get to. When you are happy you know what’s going to happen in the end, forget it. Your subconscious will guide you there now it has seen where it is. Trust your incredible mind, it will not let you down. Now practise the first two or three sentences of the story. This is really to let you hear the sound of your own voice and be comfortable with it. It is also your starting position, and once you begin the story will flow.
It is sometimes weird when you do not have a live audience to tell to. There is just you and the camera. But think of this. Down the tube of the lens there is one person. That person is eager and waiting for your story. That person is in another place and the only way they can see you is if you look down the lens and tell the story down the tube. Keep looking down the tube.
Once you have started, if you make a mistake, Carry On. It is very important that you get to the end of the story even if you think it is not going well. You can always tell it again, and the second time you will have had a good run through. The story should be about three minutes long. I will be delighted if you tell a longer story, but it has got to be worth it. Your telling has to be told with pace and vigour. You have to earn it.
I am really looking forward to seeing your story! Once I have seen it you will get a message from me, and if your story is chosen as Story Of The Month, then you will receive a rare certificate and prize. Once you have told your story and recorded it, you can more or less forget all the instructions above, because they will always be in your mind. You have told your story. You are now a Storyteller!
Be warned the act of recording your own story and having it viewed by others will become addictive and highly enjoyable. The sense of satisfaction and achievement gained by this will inspire you to repeat the experience again and again.
Read the attached instructions to the children for the first few times until they become familiar with the steps they need to take to prepare and record their stories. Also give them copies of the instructions for their reference.
Equipment and Setting up the recording space
You can use a web cam on a computer or a video camera to record the story which ever is available to you.
Before recording the story
It is important that there is as little background noise and distraction as is possible, so children can concentrate on telling their story.
Make sure that the child is framed in the centre of the picture, with the cut off just above the elbows, and the top of the head in frame.
Test the sound, focus etc. on the computer or camera.
Ensure that this is plenty of light.
The background should not be too ‘busy’ with badly hung pictures, but should be neutral. All eyes must be focused on storyteller when people watch the film and not be distracted by the surroundings.
Make sure the child is comfortable in their chair.
Children should be able to have other people there if they need them, but if they don’t maybe you and the others can sit outside of child’s eye-line.
Uploading the story
Once the child has recorded his/her story just help them follow the simple instructions to upload their stories onto The Story Emporium website.
Review the recorded story before uploading to ensure compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the website, (see User Generated Content for more details) and the Code of Behaviour. Ensure nothing inappropriate is uploaded on to the website and ensure none of the content, the child’s story, can be used to identify a child or his/ her location. For example remove content if a child uses their home address as part of their story.