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The Jump – How to tell a very short story with video

Last weekend the family was out skating and playing out on a frozen pond in rural Saskatchewan. (Don’t worry, I had to spell check that one too). In the midst of our adventure a friend wanted some tips on putting together a video, so we spent a few fun minutes putting together the above story.

This was all filmed with my cellphone, and took maybe 30 minutes to film and edit. Here’s how we did it.

Tell a story

Every movie has to have a story. The better the story (however simple) the better the film. You can go to film something with a story in mind, or you can wait for it to all happen and then edit it into a story. The latter can be more challenging, but equally rewarding.

What’s your theme?

Good stories have a theme – what the story is trying to show or teach. Our story was about overcoming obstacles… ūüėČ Remember, don’t be preachy, let it speak for itself.

What’s your plot?

Your plot is the¬†conflict or struggle that your main character goes through. It’s your tool to show your theme or lesson. This conflict can be internal or external, but it needs to come to a resolution.

In our case the struggle was whether or not our young rider was going to make the jump.

My struggle was whether or not he was going to land on (and break) my new cellphone in the process!

Build the tension

As the story moves forward the tension should increase. Will he make it? Are their new obstacles? Everything should pull us to that final moment when the protagonist concludes the plot.


Most stories can be split up into¬†a beginning, middle and end and more or less they all follow the same structure. We’re introduced to the character(s), a conflict arises, tension builds, and then finally the conflict resolves in victory or defeat, before we wrap it up. A longer story might have more ups and downs, more conflicts and minor resolutions, but it all ties together in one final conflict and resolution.

Now just add some music

Music can make a story infinitely more interesting. Especially if the story is just a kid going over a jump on a sled.

Choose a piece of music that suits your story or that part of the story. For us, an¬†overdramatic piece that built to a crescendo fits the bill nicely… I also imagine it’s how I would have felt if I were on the sled.

Recording the video

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to plan your shots. Think about all the different ways you could capture the story?

Think of everything you can imagine, including crazy ideas. We joked about holding up my son on the sled and recording a shot as if he was flying through the air for 15 seconds or so. If we had the resources to do it, we probably would have… and it could have had a few laughs. We settled for a few less dramatic ones that we recorded on a few runs down the track. We kept about 50% of the footage… which is surprisingly a lot… which leads to another point.

ALWAYS get more than you think you need. You won’t be able to go back and replicate things easily later, so get more than you think you need at the moment. We didn’t get a shot of the sled starting to move, and no one wanted to go back and get the shot. It’s too bad as the story would have flowed a little bit more.

The End

If you made it all the way through this boring little how to, please leave a comment below! Thanks for watching!

How’s that for over analysing 15 seconds of video?

About Paul

A guy trying to get away from his desk so that he can fish, hike, play and just plain be in the outdoors.

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  1. Starting with creating your own videos seems like such a hard thing to do! I’m in the learning process right now – we’ll see how that goes. Thanks for your tips!

  2. This is great, thanks! I am new to making videos and take WAY too much footage and don’t do anything with it. Will try to make some stories soon!

  3. One of my favorite tips for longer videos is “Cut to a new scene often”. People have short attention spans so if you keep your individual clips short, each time you cut to a new scene it resets the viewers attention span.

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