Adam is a storyteller at Church On The Move. He also co-founded The Story Guide, a deep dive course on storytelling for churches. He joins us to discuss his pro storytelling tips.
What’s In This Session?
- How to discover stories in your church (and why not everyone’s story is worth telling) (14:13)
- Convincing individuals in your church to share their stories on camera (17:59)
- Church on the Move’s story structure (21:37)
- The best place to record a video interview (27:59)
- Essential gear for story videos (30:55)
- Pro video storytelling tips from the trenches (35:18)
Show Notes & Resources Mentioned
3 Instant Takeaways
- The key to stories worth telling is change. Every great story has a main character who changes. Use this as a guide when choosing stories from your congregation to tell. Look for someone who has changed.
- What location will support this story? When choosing where to film your story videos, choose places that make sense to your story. This will help you tell the story visually before your subject even begins speaking. Choosing space that make sense for the story will also help the story feel authentic.
- Audio first. When it comes to gear, start with quality audio. People are more likely to stop watching due to poor audio quality rather than poor picture quality. Put thought and money into a quality microphone and learn how to use it properly.
The Full Transcript
Brady Shearer: This is the Pro Church Podcast session number 191, The Six Steps Story Structure with Adam Bush. Well, hey there, Pro Church Nation, and welcome to the Pro Church podcast. You’re now part of a small group of pioneering churches doing everything we can to seize the 167 hours beyond our Sunday services. Why? Well, because we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last [00:00:30] 500 years, and what got us here won’t get us there. I’m Brady, your host, and this is session number 191. You can find the show notes for this session at prochurchtools.com/191. In this session, we’re joined by Adam Bush of Church on the Move discussing his Six Step Story Structure, so let’s do it.
[00:01:00] Welcome back, Pro Church Nation, to another session of the Pro Church Podcast. This is Brady Shearer, your host, so great to have you along for the ride. We like to start off each and every session by sharing with you a pro tip or a practical tool that you can begin using in your church ministry, or personal life right away. This week, I walked in for a day at work, and I came across a very delightful surprise that was on my desk. I had been following this [00:01:30] account on Instagram for a while. The account is Manuscriptsbooks, manuscripts plural, books, that’s the name of the handle on Instagram. Basically, this was a new startup, a new project by a couple of individuals, by a team. They were putting together a new set of beautiful, easy to read gospel, individual gospel pocket-sized books. Think Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, four individual pocket-sized books that were dedicated each to one of the gospels.
[00:02:00] I had been following this account on Instagram for a while. I walk in. There’s a package on my desk. I open it up, and look how generous [Jesse 00:02:07] and the crew over at Manuscripts had sent me some advanced copies, two advanced copies of the book of Luke. It was so cool, because like I said, I’d been following them for a while, and I’ve just been loving what they’ve been doing. To receive those in the mail was great, and so I wanted to give a shout out here.
You can find them online, manuscriptsbooks.com. They just completed a successful Kickstarter, which is great, [00:02:30] and like I said, they are printing four different volumes, one volume each dedicated to each of the gospels, and they’re pocket-sized, so they’re really small. You can carry them with you wherever you go. They’ve got this soft and linen texture on the covers. They’ve got these nice, rounded edges. They feel great. They’re so small and so portable that you can just bring it around with you. There’s no verse numbers or footnotes. There’s nice paragraph breaks to emphasize the words of Jesus, red letters for Jesus’ words, and the New [00:03:00] American Standard Bible Edition is … The New American Standard version, pardon me. Yeah, New American Standard Bible. That’s the version that they used in the actual translation. Go check them out. It’s manuscriptsbooks.com, highly recommend it, and thanks to Jesse and the crew over there for sending over that advanced copy to me. It was greatly appreciated.
With that being said, we’re going to transition. We’re going to welcome in our guest to this session of the Pro Church Podcast. We’re welcoming in Adam Bush. Adam works at Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his official title is [00:03:30] Storyteller. Yeah, that’s it, Storyteller comma Church on the Move. That’s his official title. He also co-founded thestoryguide.com, which is this complete deep-dive course into storytelling for churches. We talk a lot about his process. We talk about the Six Steps Story structure that he uses to tell stories. We talk about how to discover stories in your church and why not everyone’s story is worth telling. We talk about convincing individuals in your church to share their stories on camera, the best place to record a [00:04:00] video interview, essential gear for story videos, and pro video storytelling tips from the trenches, so lots of great stuff in this session. We’ll be back in just a moment with my interview with Adam Bush.
I’ve been creating videos for churches and organizations now for a while, and one of the lessons that I’ve learned again and again, just continues to be true, is that there’s only so much that you can prepare for [00:04:30] on a shoot. A lot of the time, the stuff that you stumble upon accidentally, you didn’t expect, sometimes, it turns out to be the very best tape that you actually get from that shoot. We had a experience like this, turned out to be the case, in Ireland with the Story Tape team traveling. Take a listen.
Speaker 2: We’re driving out there. This is our final destination. This drive, it was pretty lengthy. The weather was starting to turn. It was pretty cloudy. It was starting to get a little rainy, and we come around this bend, [00:05:00] and we just see the most beautiful beach we had seen yet in Ireland, just the most pristine sand. The waves were coming in, and we were like, “We need to pull over here.” So we pulled over. We parked on the beach, because that’s a thing you do, saw that there was a surf school going on, saw that there were signs that said you can drive on this beach, and everything, all the conditions were just perfect.
We had mapped out our battery usage that day, [00:05:30] and we’re looking at the scene. We’re like, “We need to reevaluate here.” We ended up using two full sets of batteries and filming what turned out to be one of the nicest scenes from that whole trip, just between the mountains, that strange sand dune terrain, the surfers, the waves, driving on the sand beach. It just turned out to be one of our best scenes from that whole trip.
Brady Shearer: In this instance, Alex and Tristan had mapped out an entire week’s worth of shooting on their trip to Ireland, down to the exact number [00:06:00] of batteries that would be used on each shoot location. But then, what happens? Well, you stumble across something you could’ve never prepared for, and you’ve got to be flexible. You’ve got to reevaluate your plan, and that’s a good thing, because when you do that, perhaps, like in this case, you stumble across something that turns out to be better than you could’ve prepared for, at all. I encourage you, when you’re capturing videos, make sure to stay flexible, stay in a place where you can reevaluate, because you never know what you might stumble upon, that you want to capture.
Of course, there’s plenty to stumble upon at [00:06:30] storytape.com, our unlimited stock video platform where you can get access to thousands upon thousands of cinematic 4K stock footage video clips, including all of the stuff that we captured on this unforeseen, unexpected shoot location in Ireland. Head to storytape.com to see all of the great stuff that we have to offer. You can browse every single on of our 5,000 plus clips for free, and we’re adding a thousand new clips every single month, so head to storytape.com, browse, start downloading, and I can’t [00:07:00] wait to see what you create with the footage.
Well, hey there, Pro Church Nation. Welcome back to another session of the Pro Church Podcast, great to have you with us. We’re also grateful to have our guest here for today, Adam Bush. Adam, welcome to the show.
Adam Bush: Hey. It’s great to be here, man.
Brady Shearer: Can you tell us a little bit, introduce yourself to Pro Church Nation, and tell us a little [00:07:30] bit about who you are and what you do?
Adam Bush: Yeah, sure. I’m a church kid. I grew up a PK, and I work in the local church, my church, my home church here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Church on the Move, and I’m a Storyteller here at the church. My job is to find stories within our church, people who have experienced life change through finding Jesus Christ, and I help communicate those stories through video and by writing them for our weekend services. That’s really what I’m [00:08:00] all about, the local church and storytelling.
Out of that, me and my buddies, we created an online Masterclass-style workshop to help people who work within a local church tell stories better. We call it The Story Guide. It’s at thestoryguide.com. Basically, it’s about three and a half hours of workshops that take you from the moment we find a story all the way to the finishing touches, communicating the story through video. Really, that’s kind of me in a nutshell, the local church, [00:08:30] Jesus Christ, and storytelling.
Brady Shearer: Pretty, pretty awesome. Your official title at Church on the Move is Storyteller, like Adam comma Storyteller comma Church on the Move?
Adam Bush: Yeah, it is. It’s cool on paper, that people, when they ask me like, “What’s your title here?” I can say, “Oh, I’m a storyteller.” It’s a little confusing to the outside world. My wife and I just bought a home at the beginning of this year, and so when we took in the paperwork [00:09:00] to the bank, I kind of heard through the grapevine that the president was asking my friend like, “What does a storyteller do? Because I’m picturing a guy who kind of reads stories, like books to children.” I think that’s the case with a lot of church jobs, you know, producer, or service architect. It makes a lot of sense within the church world, but maybe not so much sent out in the real world.
Brady Shearer: For sure. Are you the lone [00:09:30] storyteller, or is there a group of you with the identical title?
Adam Bush: Yeah. I am the only person on staff who has the title of Storyteller. We have a team here, and what’s really cool about the way that we work is it is different than a lot of the churches that I’ve just been around, in that for us, story really drives our whole video department. I answer [00:10:00] to our lead producer, but then also the video team, they answer to our lead producer. We work together. Let’s say I’m working on a story that would be communicated via video. Then, I’ll bring it to my lead producer, and then he will get the video guys involved. I’ll work with them, as opposed to the top guy being a video [00:10:30] guy, or me being a video guy. I don’t shoot. I’m a terrible shooter. It’s more of a partnership as opposed to a, I don’t know, a one-man show.
I’m not responsible for everything. In fact, I find the story, and I would be like, “Okay, here’s the story, and here’s the location.” Then, I just meet the guys there. We brainstorm what it’s going to look like, that sort of thing, and then they, the video guys, they take care of that whole side of things. [00:11:00] While I do edit, just because that’s part of my trade, I am not specifically … I’m not a technical guy, so that’s not going to ever be what I’m going to bring to the table.
Brady Shearer: When I think about storytelling within the church world, generally, we kind of land on video, testimonies and baptism videos, sort of things like that. Does storytelling extend in your role and in Church on the Move’s existence beyond video? Is it a social [00:11:30] thing, a website thing, an every kind of service thing, or is it more centralized to video?
Adam Bush: Yeah. It’s video-heavy, obviously, because that’s just a great medium, and it’s something that we have available just in this day and age, to communicate stories. Obviously, editing really gives you a power to be able to construct a story the way that you want. How many times have we been sitting down in an interview, and our interviewee goes off on a tangent, and you’re [00:12:00] just like, “Well, I don’t really want to communicate that information”? Editing allows you to edit that part out, you know? Video is a big part of it.
I would say, at Church on the Move, we really try to tell some sort of story every single weekend, but a story is as … A story is just a series … This isn’t a definition of story, but it is the components. A story is a series of details, something happened, and then a reflection, [00:12:30] how I felt. I think I picked that up from Ira Glass, the host of This American Life. You can’t have a story if something didn’t happen, and so when we communicate what happened, then the way that we connect with that person is by understanding how that person felt or what they thought about that situation.
That can be communicated in a lot of different ways. Sometimes, I’ll find a story, and I’ll just write it down on half of a page, and I’ll give it to our founding pastor and say, “Hey, this is a great story [00:13:00] that fits with your message.” Maybe he’s looking for something specific, and I have that for him. He just reads it. That’s over a couple of minutes, and that’s a great way to communicate a story.
Sometimes, I’ll help an individual write their story. They give me the elements, but because I’m a professional writer, I can help them construct it in a way that will be interesting to our audience, and then they’ll read it live on stage. Then, of course, there’s video. I [00:13:30] think last year, we probably shot 30 videos or so of testimony videos. I think when we think of stories, I think it is safe to assume that there are different ways that we can communicate a story, and just because we say, “Well, we’d like to tell a story every weekend,” doesn’t mean that we have to put in all the work that maybe a feature story on video would require.
Brady Shearer: I think that when a lot of ministry leaders and churches begin to explore putting stories into the medium of video, it can kind of feel like this [00:14:00] giant intimidating process. What I like about what you’ve done at thestoryguide.com in this course is you’ve distilled it down into these actionable bite-sized steps. I’d love to explore that a bit in this conversation. Let’s start with this idea of finding stories that are worth telling, and if you can translate that from Church on the Move, let’s say it’s 20K, to the average church of 200. Where does the process begin of finding stories worth telling, and does everyone have a story worth telling?
Adam Bush: [00:14:30] Yeah. That’s awesome. Do I think everybody has a story worth telling? No, I don’t.
Brady Shearer: That seems a little insensitive, Adam.
Adam Bush: It does. It does come off insensitive. I think the truth is that unless there’s change, then you’re not going to have a story that’s really interesting and compelling to our audience, okay? [00:15:00] I think when we look at … This is probably a great example. When we look at films, and the big ones right now are all the superhero films, Marvel versus DC, I think ultimately, the majority of the country would agree, Marvel does a better job than DC. Now, whether that’s your taste or whatever, that’s great. It’s subjective, ultimately.
But I think whenever we watch those films, I think the reason that Marvel wins in the end, besides the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously, I think the reason that they win is [00:15:30] because [inaudible 00:15:32], we will experience the character who is changing. If you look at Spider-man: Homecoming, it’s a little bit less about a guy being a Spider-man and a little bit more about a kid who is learning his place in the world and wants to be a hero. Well, there’s change there. He has to learn something. He has to either learn to care, or he has to learn to have courage. That’s a principle for any story. Every story is going to include one of those ideas.
When we watch some of the DC films, oftentimes, [00:16:00] with the Justice League or a Superman film, you kind of walk away saying, “Well, that’s cool, Superman can fly, and he’s really strong,” but maybe you didn’t experience as much change, because Superman was amazing at the beginning, and he’s amazing at the end, and it’s really hard to kill him. When I’m looking for a story within our congregation, I’m looking for someone who has changed, and we all have the ability to change. So maybe a less insensitive way for me [00:16:30] to say that not every story is interesting, a less insensitive way would be to say that everybody has the potential to have a great story, but they’ve got to change. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard for me to connect with that individual.
I’m citing a real-life example of a story I told here at the church, and it’s a common story. If I have a person who falls into addiction, and is addicted to alcohol for 30 years, [00:17:00] that’s very interesting, because that’s very sad, but until we get to the moment where he finds Christ and finds the courage to overcome that addiction, that story might not be as interesting to tell, especially within the local church. When people ask me, “What is it that you’re looking for when you’re attempting to find a story?” I say, “It boils down to one word: [00:17:30] change.” What did someone think about God previously, what was the moment where they begin to change, and what do they think about God today?
Brady Shearer: When it comes to eliciting those stories, are you leveraging existing relationships? Are you sending out emails? Are you making announcements from stage saying, “Hey, we want to put you on camera, and we want to put a bunch of lights in your face, and a camera, and a microphone, and we want to capture your story,” and people are like, “Ah, [00:18:00] no”?
Adam Bush: Right. Yeah. I think that would be the majority of everybody’s response if you did it like that. You know, I can only speak for what has worked for me. I can tell what hasn’t worked for me and what does work for me. Making a big, broad announcement offering a website or an email address for someone to send in your story, nine times out of 10 hasn’t worked for me. Now, I have [00:18:30] heard stories of people saying, “I got this great story from this person, and it was emailed in.” That’s great. I don’t discount that, but for me, it hasn’t been my experience.
What I have found a lot of success in is understanding that if I’m a people person, and people are … Because I’m an extrovert, I’m going to be drawn to people, people are going to be drawn to me, and through conversations, getting to know people, I [00:19:00] perhaps can find out that they have a story. “This is what I thought about God before, and this is what I think now.” The problem with that is, I’m one guy, and I only have so many friends, and I only meet so many new people, and I only have so much time. It seems like if I can meet at least one person who has the potential for a story … I’m always looking for that change. Then, to grow that, I’ve got to grow my network. I have got to connect with people who are connecting with [00:19:30] other people on a regular basis. Within the church world, that is, I would say, pretty easy.
Who are the people within your church who are connecting with other people? Well, other pastors, and this goes for a church of a hundred, with a church plant, all the way up to the size of Church on the Move and bigger. Pastors, assistant pastors, counseling pastors, they’re meeting people. They’re connecting with people, and they’re experiencing people going through change. I mean, think about if they’re counseling a couple who [00:20:00] is struggling in their marriage, and then, a couple of years later, they’ve got a rock solid marriage, it’s centered on Christ, and they’re leading a small group to help other married people. Well, who’s going to know about that? That counseling pastor will know about it.
Outreach directors, these are people who are serving with other people locally and globally, on missions trip. I mean, I’ve been on a missions trip, and anybody else who has knows that when you’re with another group for 10 days, you’re going to have conversations. You’re going [00:20:30] to be sitting on the plane next to somebody, and they’re going to say, “Oh, yeah. This is something that I dealt with.” It’s going to happen. The only way I’m going to get to really fan out and find those stories is if I connect with the outreach director, who is hearing these stories.
Small group leaders, leaders of small group leaders. My role here now, while I’m always looking for stories individually, I’m also connecting with the people who are connecting with other people. I’ve developed a team, and it’s [00:21:00] not a full-on serve every week kind of volunteer team, but I’ve got a volunteer team who are made up of people who love telling stories. They’re passionate about stories, and they have different gifts, interviewing, makeup for video, writing, things like that, but also my team is probably made up mostly by those connectors who are meeting and talking to people every week, every day, [00:21:30] on a pretty regular basis.
Brady Shearer: Okay. Let’s say we’ve got a story. Let’s move now to the actual structure of the story. I don’t know how it works for you, Adam. Normally, I sit down, and I record usually about 60 minutes of tape, me talking with the person on camera that’s the subject of the story, and then I’ll kind of break that down to, let’s say, three to seven minutes total. Trying not to be shorter than two, longer than seven generally works for us. What kind of story structure do you employ, [00:22:00] or story formula, to grab that let’s say 60 minutes of tape, and then condense it into a concise and progressive story?
Adam Bush: Yeah. That’s the age-old question, right? I’ve got all this footage, or I’ve got all this story, and I can’t tell a 60 minute story, and a lot of this is really boring, so how are we going to get through it? You know, my heart, and I’ve got two other guys that work with me on The Story Guide, who co-founded it with me, Chris and Gary, storytellers, church guys who are passionate [00:22:30] about the same things I’m passionate about. Our heart with the Story Guide was really to take all of the storytelling principles that we use in culture, novels, film, podcasts, radio, Pixar, Disney, whoever’s making great stories, our heart was really to take in that information and distill it down into [00:23:00] a place where people who work within the local church, especially people who are doing multiple jobs within their church, we distill down that information to be able to hand it to people and say, “These are tried and true methods used by great filmmakers that we can use in the local church.”
I don’t think of it any differently than when I read C.S. Lewis, I have a hard time, personally, understanding everything that he says. But when I listen to a great minister [00:23:30] who reads C.S. Lewis, and he distills it down to me, I’m able to grab onto it better, and it impacts my life for the positive. That’s really what we wanted to do with The Story Guide.
One of those really big, crucial rocks that we communicate in The Story Guide is the story spine. Typically, the kind of storytelling we’re doing is labeled as classical story structure, very linear. There’s an exposition at the beginning of the [00:24:00] story, who the person was. There’s a progressive complication, the middle, all the tension that happened within the story. Then, there’s a big crisis and climax right at the end. Typically, the turn involves Christ within the local church. My goal with the story spine, which is readily available … We would talk about it on The Story Guide, but it’s also just all over the internet. Pixar uses it. [00:24:30] My goal whenever I take an hour’s worth of interview is to then take that and to fill it into the story spine, and to place their story in this linear story structure, which we can go over, if you want, but in this linear story structure, and then use that as my storytelling Bible of sorts, so that when I’m editing, or I’m writing, I’m always able to go back to that story spine and say, “Okay, these are the beats that I want to hit.”
Brady Shearer: Yeah. Let’s briefly [00:25:00] go over that structure, because I know that Pro Church Nation, so many of us want to learn that.
Adam Bush: Yeah. I will ask you one thing. I was recording this audio on my end, and my card just filled up. You want me to fix it real quick, or would you prefer me just keep going?
Brady Shearer: Oh, just keep. I’ve got it covered, so we’re all good.
Adam Bush: Okay, cool. Okay. I’m sorry, will you want to ask that question one more time?
Brady Shearer: You know what? I like keeping this stuff in there, so I’ll probably just keep this in. Let’s [00:25:30] just go with that story structure. Actually, I always like listening to podcasts and you hear a bit behind the scenes. You’re like, “Ooh.” You almost get a little bit giggly, like, “Oh my gosh, they didn’t edit that part out.” I’ll just keep that in there.
Adam Bush: No, that’s great. The story structure, or the story spine, okay. This is going to kind of sound like a lot, but if you write it down, it’ll kind of help out.
Brady Shearer: Put Adam at like half speed on your podcast app right now.
Adam Bush: Yeah. Okay. It’s a bit fill in the blank [00:26:00] or finish this sentence. I mentioned your exposition in a story. That’s your world, or just the beginning of your story, who the person is. We start that pretty simply with once upon a time, so, “Once upon a time, dot dot dot.” The second one is, “And every day, dot dot dot,” okay? That’s your exposition. That’s where we understand where we’re at. Then, your inciting incident comes in with until [00:26:30] one day, “Until one day, something happens,” right?
Your progressive complication, that’s next, okay? That’s real easy. It’s this, “And because of that, dot dot dot,” okay? With your progressive complication, you can say, “And because of that, dot dot dot, and because of that, dot dot dot, and because of that, dot dot dot.” I typically try to start out with three, but sometimes, it’s more than that, depending on the length of the story or the interest, the [00:27:00] interesting factors of the story. That’s your whole progressive complication. The next one is, “Until finally,” right? That’s your turn. Until finally, he met God. Until finally, he came to church. Until finally, someone invited him to church. The next one is, “Ever since that day.” You wrap it up with, “And the moral of the story is.”
I’ll go through it one more time. Once upon a time, and every day, until one day, and because of [00:27:30] that, and because of that, and because of that, until finally, ever since that day, and the moral of the story is Christ is the [inaudible 00:27:39]. There. You just fill in the last one with Jesus is the answer to the moral of the story.
Brady Shearer: Totally. totally. Yeah. That’s great. I think that’s really helpful. I like that you summarized it all at the end. Let’s transition a bit to some of the more tactical when it comes to capturing a video story. Where do [00:28:00] you prefer to actually host the interview? Do you do it in someone’s home, so they’re more comfortable? Do you get them to come to the church, third part location?
Adam Bush: Yeah. I think you’ve got a couple of factors. The first thing I’m always thinking about is what location will support the story, right? If I’m telling a story of a gentleman who, throughout his whole life, has been down on his luck and [00:28:30] maybe fell into addiction, and has come back to Christ, just now beginning to really see the blessings of God in his life, but the whole past of his life has been filled with poverty. If he, in his personal life, does not live in a mansion, I’m probably not going to shoot it in a mansion. Why? Well, it’s going to feel weird. It’s not going to feel authentic, all right? [00:29:00] I’m going to ask, “Hey, where do you live? What does your house look like? Can I come check it out? Could I film in your house?”
Let’s just say he says, “I don’t have a problem filming in a house, but maybe my house won’t work. We’ve got a bunch of kids running around.” That’s fine, but I’m going to find a house that is as similar to his house. It’s not uncommon for us to … In fact, for The Story Guide, in the home that we shot Lee in, Lee’s story is what the whole Story [00:29:30] Guide is based around, how we found Lee’s story and how we edited it and developed it, but we rented an Airbnb. The house is very similar to Lee’s lifestyle. It’s not his house, but it definitely supports his theme or his story, and it’s not distracting, either. You don’t look at it and be like, “What kind of place is he in?” That’s the first thing, what location is going to support my story?
Then, secondly, accessibility. [00:30:00] Is the place that I want to shoot at accessible? If it is, great. If it’s not, I’ve got to find something that’s similar, or a setting location that really goes back to supporting the story. Obviously, there are a lot of stories where you could say, “I’m just going to shoot it at the church,” or, “I’m going to shoot it in a studio at the church.” Oftentimes, the option you have is to shoot in some sort of neutral studio [00:30:30] setting. You can do that, and that’s fine. I’ve done that plenty of times, but ultimately, that’s not my preference. My preference is to understand that even the location is part of the story, so if I can put them in a place that just pushes the story that much more forward, that’s what I’m going to do.
Brady Shearer: You’ve got a lesson in your Story Guide, when it comes to the actual gear, and everyone loves to talk about gear.
Adam Bush: Yes, they do.
Brady Shearer: You’ve got this one that’s all about [00:31:00] the gear that you definitely need, like your favorite gear. Essential Gear is the exact title of the lesson. Every single person that sees that is immediately thinking, “Oh my gosh, what gear do I need? Gear is the secret. If only I had the right gear, all my problems would be solved.” Let’s just assume that’s correct. Do you mind pulling back the curtain a bit and sharing the essential gear that you’re taking on a story video shoot?
Adam Bush: Yeah. You know, I come from an interesting place when it comes to gear, in that [00:31:30] gear is not my forte, just personally. I was a freelancer storyteller for about three years, and I had to train myself how to shoot just for the sake of making ends meet, just making money. I’ve done what every video guy has done. I’ve shot weddings. I’ve shot kids getting their black belt. I’ve shot funerals. In those moments, you kind of just have to … I didn’t have a lot of cash. I’m trying to figure [00:32:00] out how I can do it. What gear can I have?
I started with a T5, which is a low man DSLR. What I realized is, for me, at least, and I think that there’s a lot of subjective ideas on storytelling, and I am into all the opinions, but for me, I found that before gear is a compelling story. I could have the best [00:32:30] gear, I could know how to use a RED, I could understand exactly what it really means to use After Effects in a phenomenal way within a story, and those things are useful. Those are tools, but if I don’t have a compelling story, I don’t have much.
I think the flip is true, that if I do have a compelling story, maybe I don’t have to lean on my gear so much. Maybe I can still connect with the audience [00:33:00] even though I don’t have the best gear. Now, I think that there are some things about gear that you have to focus on to keep your story distraction-free. A lot of people will ask me, or ask our team, “What camera do you use?” I like to respond by saying, “You know, the best mic you have,” because personally, I believe this, I think audio first, because I can watch an amazing looking film, [00:33:30] but if the audio is distracting, or doesn’t sound great, I’m out, man. It’s just too hard to listen to.
I think that’s probably why we’re okay with watching old films, because a lot of times, the audio is great. It’s been remastered, and even though it’s black and white, or 4:3, or my personal favorite show is the West Wing, and their beginning seasons are in 4:3, I don’t give a flip. [00:34:00] There are no distractions there. When it comes to gear, I regularly say, “Hey, man. Look, put money in your camera, but I would say put more than you were planning on into your microphone. Then, learn how to position it in the right way.” Does that help? Does that make sense?
Brady Shearer: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have said so many times before that audio is the most important element of your video, and [00:34:30] for that exact reason. We can sit through video quality that’s poor when the audio is fine, but in the inverse, that is not the case. It can ruin a video. You know, audio isn’t glamorous, right? When we’re budgeting, we’re like, “Oh, yeah. This camera shoots 4K, and 10-bit, and the colors are sweet, and the dynamic range is this. Oh yeah, mic? I don’t know. We got one from the singers that they use onstage. Just throw that at them.” You’re just like …
Adam Bush: Exactly. Yeah.
Brady Shearer: I understand the inclination. I have been there, but it just represents a vulnerability [00:35:00] for your video with that mindset. I think that kind of unlocks and kind of … That’s one of those pro tips that you learn when you’ve made videos, but it isn’t exactly obvious from the outset, like when you approach it for the first time. There are so many of these, but what are some other pro tips that you could share with churches, things that maybe aren’t super obvious, but once you’ve been making them for a while, you’re like, “Man, if I knew this when I first started …”
Adam Bush: Yeah. Man, I could say a lot of things. As far as gear goes, I think [00:35:30] we don’t put enough emphasis on the glass, or lenses. I’ve seen some pretty well shot stuff on a 5D Mark II, but the guy, the cinematographer, maybe he rented a really nice Rokinon lens for like $50 off of LensRental. A great lens is going to make a huge difference. It’s funny. It’s almost like I feel like [00:36:00] I’m making this list, audio first, then your glass, then from there, you’re going to go to your body. Again, subjective, but that’s at least how I would go at it. That’s a really big tip. Other than that, man, as far as gear goes, I could go a couple of different ways. I personally use a C100. It’s a Canon C100. [00:36:30] It’s one step up from a DSLR.
Brady Shearer: The original C100.
Adam Bush: Yeah. It’s the original C100.
Brady Shearer: Not even the Mark II.
Adam Bush: What did you say?
Brady Shearer: Not even the Mark II.
Adam Bush: Well, look, I love the Mark II, as well. I personally can’t afford it.
Brady Shearer: Interestingly, and when this goes live, this may not be the case, but the C100 is on sale at B&H this week for like $1,600. In the realm of pricing, that is low compared to Ursa [00:37:00] Mini, a7S, a RED, obviously. $1,600, that’s like a Gh5, basically.
Adam Bush: Yeah, you’re right. I think you’re pointing out something that I wish more church video guys did, and that is … Okay, so here’s the problem that we often bring to our pastor, is we say, “I’m going to be a video guy,” or whatever, or we get hired as a communications director that includes video, however that looks. We go with [00:37:30] this big order, this paper, to our pastor, and we say, “These are all the things that I need.” It’s quite expensive, and often, it’s because we’re starting from the top. We’re saying, “We’ve got to have that C100 Mark II,” or, “I’ve got to have that RED,” whatever that thing is.
I think the problem that we’re over … Or the tension [00:38:00] that we’re skipping right past is maybe in that moment, we don’t have the respect that we want, because we haven’t done the work beforehand. The way I’m communicating it is a little confusing, but I can communicate it best with an example. When I started shooting, I didn’t know diddly squat, and so I bought the first camera I could afford, which was a Canon T5. It doesn’t even have an audio input. I just had to have a zoom, and just sync the audio, and it’s really difficult [00:38:30] to do, because the mic on the T5 is terrible. But I shot with it, and I shot enough with it that I was able to afford a T5i. Then, the cycle continued. I upgraded from there to a 60D. I sold the 60D, and I bought a 5D Mark II that could shoot video. I shot with that as long as I could. I got the best lens I could, and then from there, I eventually saved up enough money to buy the C100, and then, I bought another one.
That was for me, personally, as [00:39:00] a freelancer, but I feel like if we were to do that within the church world, we would be respecting our tithe-payers’ money, being a great steward of the money that God has given our church, but also, I think we’re saying something to our boss or our pastor, in that we’re taking this seriously, we can do something really good with what we’ve been given, and we’re going to be so intentional about [00:39:30] using what is in front of us, that when the money does come, we are in a position that people look at us and they say, “That person has been faithful with what they’ve been given, and so they deserve this.” I just think that it’s a really practical thing, but I think it’s also just a lesson in honoring God, honoring the church, [00:40:00] and maybe just a pro tip on being a good steward with what we have.
Brady Shearer: I think that’s probably, for me, the most valuable takeaway from this conversation. It’s not a super actionable tip or sexy takeaway, but the C100 doesn’t even shoot 4K, for everyone listening. This is Church on the Move shooting with a camera that’s, what, half a decade old, has been upgraded or replaced by like five different models, and it’s still good enough. Why? [00:40:30] Because storytelling always wins, and that’s all that matters when it comes to a great video. You can get away with a hundred percent as Adam, with the luxury of a giant budget at his disposal if he wanted to, he’s still using the C100.
Adam Bush: Absolutely. I think, there are moments where you’re doing a big missions push, or maybe you’ve got a big love day, and you ask for a budget to rent things. I think that’s the beauty of 2017 in the video world, is that [00:41:00] look, just because we use C100s doesn’t mean that we can’t rent from time to time, and that’s great. On The Story Guide, when I’m looking at Lee’s story, I’m watching it through two C100s, and we have done everything we can to understand those cameras, to make that image as great as it can be with those cameras, and because we’ve done the hard work of developing the story, because our audio is spot on, and because we’ve been [00:41:30] good stewards with the gear that we’ve been given, I think that … I do not believe that anybody will watch that story and say, “That just looks amateur.” I think they would say the exact opposite.
Brady Shearer: Yeah, absolutely. This has been a great conversation, Adam. I think that if you’ve enjoyed any of this discussion, Pro Church Nation, you’ll want to go to thestoryguide.com and check out the full course. What I love about the landing page, Adam, is that you have the lessons. It looks like there’s six lessons, but then within each lesson, [00:42:00] there’s individual items within that lesson. Lesson one is called Finding Your Story, and there’s six individual videos within that lesson. You’ve got additional resources. You’ve got a blog of free content, where you can get started before jumping into the actual paid course. Is there anything more you can tell us about this course and why a church consider diving in, and how it’s going to be so valuable?
Adam Bush: Yeah. You know, I think we communicate just as clearly as we can our experience, both in a large church [00:42:30] and in a small church, a church plant setting, on how to find stories, how to develop those stories, how to capture those stories, and then how to put the finishing touches and the polish on the edit. Our heart really is to distill that information so that everybody understands, “Okay, if I take these tips, I can produce a story.” You can only get better over time once you’ve learned these tips.
We had a church yesterday that purchased it, a youth group [00:43:00] who got a new intern, who they want to tell stories within their church, so they bought it, downloaded it, and said, “Start watching this.” What’s great, I think, about The Story Guide workshop is that they’re in very small chunks, like you mentioned. You don’t have to watch the first lesson over an hour. It’s divided into six lessons that range from like three to seven minutes. I’m going to sit down on my lunch break. I’m going to watch the first two. I’ll watch the next one after work. It really comes off in bite-sized pieces [00:43:30] to be able to just ingest it and be able to really think about what you’ve learned.
We’re not done. This was the very first one. We are in the middle of filming how to tell a live story. There’s a lot of churches who don’t have video teams, so the only way they can tell a story is, or one of the only ways, is to be able to help someone write that story, and for that person to share it live onstage. We’re right in the middle of that process, and then we’ll upload that at the beginning of next year. [00:44:00] The sky is the limit. Our heart is for the local church, and our goal is to help the church tell stories better.
Brady Shearer: Nice. You’re continually updating it as more technology, like live video, becomes relevant, and adding that to the overall framework?
Adam Bush: Absolutely. Absolutely. Of course, the blog, we upload a new blog every single Wednesday, every Wednesday, a different element of storytelling, storytelling tips, tricks. Some are longer. Some are shorter. The one today is 45 seconds, just one quick [00:44:30] tip that’s often overlooked when you’re shooting on set. These are real-life things that are happening. A lot of the blogs that we upload are us on set, shooting a story either for church, or a nonprofit organization, so it’s real-world storytelling experiences that we have. We don’t plan on stopping. We plan on helping the church until Jesus comes back, or until we run out of things to say. We’ll see [00:45:00] how long this can go, but I think as long as we’re telling stories in the church, we’re going to continue to be passionate about helping.
Brady Shearer: I love it, Adam. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the platform itself and by all the free content you’re sharing, and as someone who basically built an entire business on top of free content, I think it’s one of the best ways to grow an audience, and most importantly, serve your audience. I can’t say thank you enough for that, and for coming on the Pro Church Podcast and sharing so much great information.
Adam Bush: Hey, I love [00:45:30] talking about story, I love talking about church, and so it was my pleasure.
Brady Shearer: There you have it, my interview with Adam Bush, Storyteller at Church on the Move talking about the Six Step Story Structure that him and his team employ. We talked about how to discover stories in your church and why, although it sounds insensitive, why not everyone’s story is worth telling. We talked about convincing individuals in your church to share their stories and how to actually figure out making people feel comfortable. We talked about Church on the Move’s story structure, the best place to record a video [00:46:00] interview, essential gear for story videos, and my biggest takeaway, how Church on the Move, for a lot of their videos, is using a camera that’s only about $1,600, doesn’t even shoot 4K, 8-bit only, doesn’t matter, because story is king, and then, finally, pro video storytelling tips from the trenches.
A big thank you to Adam for coming on the Pro Church podcast and sharing so much great information with us. Make sure to check out thestoryguide.com to see all the great stuff that him and his team are up to. The free content, even [00:46:30] if you’re not maybe ready to get the course, though I highly do recommend the course, head over there and just see the free content. They’re posting new content every single week, and it’s so, so helpful.
With that being said, it’s time for our review of the week. This one comes from Pastor Tim Walker from the USA, five stars. It says, “Brady’s podcasts have been so instrumental in the growth of our church. It’s always good to have insight from the millennial generation on how to reach their generation.” Thank you, Pastor Tim, for that review inside of Apple Podcast. It means the world to me and the team. If you have not yet left a review [00:47:00] for this podcast, please head over to prochurchpodcast.com and show us some love. It’s really one of the best ways to give back to the show, even though we do give away free stuff every single week. You know, if you want to give back, prochurchpodcast.com is the best place to do that. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll be back with another session real soon. Love you, Pro Church Nation. Talk then.