“Show, Don’t Tell”: Telling True Stories With SERIAL
One of the best stories told in 2014 that did not involve the politics of Westeros was a true story told over the radio. Or… not necessarily the radio… but a podcast called SERIAL. This breakthrough web-format story spans almost 10 hours over twelve weekly episodes. It chronicles a 1999 murder, the characters involved, and the questions left unanswered at the trial.
While getting lost in the engrossing narrative that Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder have crafted, it is important to remember that when it comes to true stories, sifting through the mountain of details is often the hardest task.
In her interview with Fast Company Snyder discussed the daunting task of sorting through the amassment of research and assembling it together into a cohesive narrative that didn’t get bogged down by the details.
“We have an insider’s knowledge of what pieces of evidence we have and where they’re going, and that part of the story takes place inside the details. In order to bring anybody in on what we found so interesting, there’s a lot you have to understand first. It’s sort of a challenge.”
At Deidox we appreciate what SERIAL has been able to accomplish from a storytelling perspective because we, like them, also have to unearth the narrative threads from an ocean of footage. Our 5 minute short-form documentaries are crafted from between 15-30 hours of tape. Our first feature length documentary, Free Burma Ranger, will be released in 2015. It is being cut from over 500 hours of footage.
At Deidox we have a saying: “show, don’t tell.” Basically, we don’t want to tell you about something that happened, we want to show you the story as it unfolds. Perhaps this ethos accounts for the kinship we feel towards SERIAL’s creators, because SERIAL is not so much a show about a teenager’s 1999 murder as it is the story of a reporter whose life has been thrown into disarray by her investigation. The fun part, we have learned, lies in tagging along with Sarah and Julie through their journey of discovery, uncertainty, and doubt.