7 Storytelling Techniques You Can Learn from Filmmaker & YouTube Star Casey Neistat
Finding new ways of making films can be as easy as opening your eyes.
For many of us, learning about filmmaking consists of scouring YouTube for helpful tutorials and video essays, reading blogs like this one, or watching the content of our favorite film directors. But there is so much to learn from creators in different mediums, including the vlog.
If you've never heard of Casey Neistat, he is not only one of the most popular YouTube vloggers with over 4 million subscribers, he is also a noteworthy filmmaker. And because Neistat creates his vlogs with a keen cinematic mind and unique filmmaking style, his approach is certainly worth studying. Editor Sven Pape breaks down 7 techniques used by Neistat in the video below:
Here are the techniques Pape mentions in the video:
- Neistat Cut-Off: Abruptly cutting in the middle of a sentence right at the moment the audience knows what's about to be said
- The Continuous Thought: Starting to provide information in one location, then finishing in another
- Associative Cut: Tacking on some kind of referencial video/sound clip that goes with what's being said
- Neistat Montage: Rapid cuts that show the progression of (usually) a single task
- The Neistat Zoom: Simply bringing the camera closer to the face to intensify moment/"cut" to new camera angle
- Neistat Transitions: Using in-camera transitions, like putting down/picking up camera, "lens slap", etc.
- Neistat Mise en Scène: Using limited resources to make every shot look unique.
Now, we can learn about technique all day, but if we don't understand the philosophy behind those techniques, our understanding is incomplete. Nerdwriter's Evan Puschak digs into Neistat's creative sensibilities in the video below:
And if those two videos weren't enough, Neistat himself shared a bunch of filmmaking wisdom in his vlog below:
I am old enough to remember YouTube in all of its stages of growth: when it wasn't a thing, when it became a thing, when it became a thing just for cats, and then when it become a really awesome, boundary-pushing, cinematic thing. And I have to admit that since all I do all day is write filmmaking content for you guys and make pancakes and pasta for my family, I keep an eye on my precious personal YouTube time like it's the last Roadhouse sweet roll in the basket. (I cook so gimme dat tasty roll, child.)
And Neistat's vlog is an interesting animal, one that appeals to consumers and makers of the cinematic art form, because he's displaying his filmmaking prowess—like riding around on a boosted board while holding a Canon 70D and a GorillaPod in one hand and a green smoothy in the other—while also telling really fantastic bitesize stories about his everyday life. (Really, Neistat can make waiting for water to boil fun and exciting.)
The lesson: you can learn filmmaking anywhere and everywhere, especially if you let the critic inside you make way for the student. As Proust once said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."