YouTube as a medium for long form storytelling

For someone who is really into reading and writing, I watch a lot of telly. Over the last few years I have found myself being more and more drawn into the potential of YouTube as a medium for long form storytelling. To begin with I was very put off by the prank videos and found the ‘five tips to…’ format of video particularly uninspiring. However, my partner is a bit of a genius at finding interesting channels to watch, and I’ve recently found myself a bit addicted to the stories that Morgan of Gold Shaw Farm tells (see his video above about his dog for a good example). Baby Magpie, who has just learned to wave, likes to watch the ducks and geese before bedtime, and to chat to them in a sing song voice. Sometimes he gives Morgan and Toby Dog a wave.

In my twenties I did a PhD in psychology and I was particularly interested in how stories affect us. It is an interest that still intrigues me in a variety of different ways, although it has been a while since a did any comprehensive research. However, during my reading for my PhD I came across the idea that a story, whether fact or fiction, needs to have an emotional truth to really move the reader. Of course what constitutes that truth will be different for different people. As a reader and writer of fantasy, I am fully aware that not everyone is able to identify with the perspective of an elf.

Which brings me back to Morgan and his stories about Gold Shaw Farm. I’m not a farmer, and while I try my hand in the garden now and then, I do not claim to want to start a farm. However, I still find my self wanting to know more about the ducks, and geese, and Hobo Barn cat. I think that Morgan is doing something really interesting with YouTube as a medium for long form story telling. In each video he picks up a different thread of the story of his farm, and he has an instinctive understanding of emotional truth in the stories he tells about his animals. While he delights in the new life that comes on to his farm during hatching season, he also does not shy away from the loss and sorrow that farming also necessarily involves. I know that some of the readers here are very interested in storytelling in it’s many splendid forms, and if that is you I would encourage you to spend some time with this channel.

As regular readers of this blog may know, I have a bit of an issue in being interested in too many things at once, and potentially diving into too many different types of media. The consequences of this are that it’s difficult to actually finish anything. My current fantasy work in progress features a character who is a YouTuber, and as part of that process I started a YouTube channel of my own a while ago. I imagine it will surprise absolutely no one to learn that it is now sitting, unloved, waiting for me to do something about it.

At the moment I am finding that the time I need to devote to my gorgeous toddler make it very difficult to maintain a film making practice, but I hope to return to it when the demands on my time ease a little bit. One of the ideas I’m thinking about at the moment is trying to interview YouTubers who I like for my own channel as a form of research to inform that character, and to understand what it is that people enjoy about making the films they do. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in and I will try and make it happen, when I have a moment…

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Sunday Funday: Story Prompt

While away at my parents a number of weeks ago I came across this tiny little hidden street with a great name – Shin Bone Alley. It sparked my imagination as it sounds a bit Dickensian.

So, just for fun, what’s the story with this alley? What kind of tales happened here? Ideas or flash fiction welcome in the comments below, or turn it into a post on your own blog and let me know.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.


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New story board attempt.

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and draw. After we moved and adopted the cats it’s taken a bit of time to settle in to doing creative things with paper. I’ve now been through a full cycle of ivf which was exhausting but ok. We are waiting on the outcome now. I also had quite a lot of animation work left to do on the computer and so prioritised getting that done.

But today I had some time to sit and draw some mini story boards for a documentary I’ve been working on for some time. I have some audio that needs visuals to go with it and I’ve been animating those sections among others. It feels really nice to be drawing again.

In other news I’ve started a patreon. There isn’t much on there at the moment but I’m planning to post pictures and updates on my drawing and writing which I’m less happy to put out in the public lest the ideas get pinched. I’d really appreciate it if people would be interested in following me there.

You can follow me here: Magpie

Quote Challenge – Day 2


OK day 2 of the quote challenge. I was nominated by the lovely Laurie from the lovely blog Meditations in Motion. As well as blogging brilliantly about range of things, including running, she also wrote this lovely post about her mother’s ring as one of her ‘objects with meaning’. Well worth a trip over there to have a read, that’s all I’m saying.

So here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day to do the same.

Today I would like to nominate:

  1. Bjorn the Stormborn who runs a lovely blog in which he blogs about his artistic hobbies which include table top gaming and digital art. It’s such a quirky interesting blog – well worth a visit.
  2. Yolanda Chavez Sherma from the blog Yochet. This is a great blog about all of the interesting crochet project Yolanda has on the go, and more.
  3. The Frugal Veggie – who’s blog includes some great veggie recipes and tips for keeping down those costs, which are useful to most of us I think.

So here’s my quote for today. It’s from a book called ‘Letting stories breathe: a Socio-narratology’ by Arthur Frank.

‘The all too human dilemma is that by accepting being a story, a person at least provisionally accepts being what the story casts him or her to be, it’s interpretation’

So I think this is probably a geeky choice for a quote, but I really like it. I have been working on a documentary about someone for quite some time and this is one of the things I am troubled by, as I try to get anywhere near finishing it. I am telling someone else story – the finished result will necessarily be my construction or interpretation of what happened. That’s quite a big responsibility if the aim is for other people to see it, which it is. so I have been thinking on this for quite some time.

Experiments in paper cut walk cycles

I’ve been putting a lot more thought into my documentary film recently. I’m really interested not just in telling a story but in using the film to look at how you can choose to tell stories about trauma and mental health. I’m also interested in working out how you tell stories about people in a way that doesn’t reduce them being ‘that guy that the thing happened to. I’m not sure I’m there on that yet.

At the moment the majority of the actual film footage I have is of interviews. Personally I really like the style of doc where the film maker lets a person tell their story like this. However it’s visually not that interesting to look at. One of the aesthetic decisions I have made is to try to animate some sections of the interview footage, and to animate where I only have audio material. Here’s a photo of an experiment with papercut walk cycles. I’m going to photograph these, and then feed the images into adobe animate to create a couple walking. I’ll let you know how I get on with that. 

Animation, especially using a papercut style imagary that I really like to work with, is a really time hungry process. As I’m squeezing in an hour here and there around a full time job it’s taking me weeks to produce a few seconds worth of footage. It’s slow going but I’m pretty happy with this. I like using sections of footage that visually suggest the story is a construction – as much as the footage is of someone telling their own story in their own words, it’s still it’s my take on it. There could be other ways of telling the same events.