Why Does Storytelling Matter? Personal Connection
Why do stories matter? If you think about it enough, you’ll likely come up with a very personal answer—a story that changed your life in some way.
For a new storytelling mini-series, we gave four filmmakers or producers an open-ended assignment: Create a one- to two-minute film that interprets and answers that critical question, “Why do stories matter?” The first edition was hilarious; the second was beautiful. The third submission comes courtesy of documentary filmmaker Daniel Addelson, and it’s quite personal and introspective, made up of a compilation of home movie footage of friends and family that Addelson has captured over the past few years.
We spoke with Addelson to learn more about how he thinks about storytelling.
What was the first story you can remember telling?
My dad was always a great storyteller, and he’s experienced some crazy things in his life. If I remember correctly, I think one of the first stories I told was a re-telling of his college skydiving accident.
His parachute didn’t open properly, and his reserve shoot got tangled in the primary one. Falling at terminal velocity, he managed to re-deploy the tangled secondary chute and it opened a mere 100 feet from the ground. He broke a lot of bones, but survived with a great story to tell.
I remember loving the look on people’s faces when I told this story, and it’s one of the first memories I have of really enjoying the act of storytelling.
Why did you choose to tell the story you did in this video?
I think real life is often more interesting and wilder than a lot of things that we write. I am an avid recorder and cataloger (is that even a word?), so for this video I decided to go through all of the moments I’ve been capturing over the past few years and tell an abstract story of what life has been like for me and my family.
I think the most important aspect of storytelling is authenticity, so I wanted to creating something that felt real.
Do you think stories actually matter, or were you just humoring us?
Ha. I might have been humoring you, but I honestly think that stories are incredibly important and they’re a great way to communicate. People may stop listening to advice, information, or small talk, but everyone leans in for a good story.
What’s your favorite story?
It’s hard to pick out just one. I did hear about a group of marines who were obliterated in a snowfight with Norwegian schoolchildren.
Tell a funny story in 50 words.
One night when I was about 8 years old I asked my mom what was for dinner. “Spaghetti” she said. And I, customarily a very respectful child replied, “Aw shit mom, not spaghetti again.” We never did learn where I picked that one up.
What advice would you give brands that are trying to tell stories that don’t suck?
The most important thing in storytelling is to be authentic. Compelling characters and a great premise don’t hurt, but if you have sincerity in your work it will resonate with your audience.
Who are your three favorite wizards?
I don’t really like wizards.
Name your least favorite band.
I feel like the obvious answer is Nickelback, but they get such a bad rap that I’m going to have to go with The Eagles, man.
—Image by Daniel Addelson