Storytelling Through a Lens

Storytelling Through a Lens

How do you tell a good story? It’s clear that our Director of Video Content Ginnard Archibald has learned the secret ingredient—and he has a shiny, new Emmy award to prove it. Ginnard’s 2019 video highlighting the grand opening of the Abbeville Fiber Sawmill in Henry County, Alabama, won Outstanding Cinematography Work at this year’s National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences live event. The video was compelling. It was emotional. It was a perfect example of good storytelling.

So, how do you tell a good story? Where do you start? What do you focus on? Our video master would argue that it begins with some hands-on experience. “I usually wait until I get there to have an emotional vibe or connection to what’s being represented in its current state, then take the history that I do know and curate it into a minute-and-a-half story,” said Ginnard, who scouted the Henry County area and sawmill the day before the shoot. He gleaned inspiration from the quaint countryside and small-town charm, which immediately drew him in.

It’s more than just the scenery that makes for a good story, though. The opening of this sawmill was the largest economic investment in the history of Henry County, and it has brought more than 100 jobs to the area. But there’s another story unfolding just beneath the surface. The mill and its workers are the American dream—a dream built from hard work and humble beginnings. “I felt like I needed to convey that story,” said Ginnard. “This sawmill means so much to the town, so I feel like sentiment needed to be injected no matter what, so that you can feel that emotion.”

The video captures the moment when a truck delivers its first lumber load to the mill. It starts out eerily slow with short clips of Abbeville’s small town, but quickly picks up speed as the truck nears the sawmill. “I really like that you can emphasize an emotion through slow motion and sound,” said Ginnard, who used 25 layers of natural sound they recorded in the area within the final video.

An important rule of thumb for Ginnard with visual storytelling is to approach a project with as little bias as possible. “A lot of times when people are filming, they have their own perspective that they think they’re supposed to bring to a piece,” said Ginnard. He wanted to capture all elements of the story, but in an organic and ethereal way. The slow motion edits and graceful panning of the countryside reel in viewers while remaining true to what is being portrayed: a town revival. The result is a tribute to those men and women of Abbeville Fiber whose craft helps build a place of refuge and rest for others.

Ginnard’s cinematography work earned him an Emmy in the “Photographer–Short Form” category during the live-streamed event in Atlanta, Georgia. But Ginnard wasn’t the only Tele team member who received kudos for their work this year. Producer/Director Cat May took home her own Emmy in the category of “Director–Non-live” for her video “The Mirage.” All in all, the members of our video team took home five Emmys in four different categories this year.

At Telegraph, we are a team of ideators, inventors and creators with a talent for telling. It’s at the core of who we are—whether we’re creating a brand from scratch, crafting scripts, designing graphics or filming stunning videos (s/o to Ginnard and Cat for their shiny new hardware!). What story are you trying to tell? We might just be able to help you out.