June 1, 2015

MUSE Is a Proven Step-by-Step Process For Crafting Powerful Stories From Scratch

MUSE Storytelling Process
At its core, filmmaking is the art of manipulating image and sound for the purpose of telling a story.

Sure, the idea of storytelling may have generated some negative buzz in the past year because calling oneself a storyteller has become, well, trendy, even in industries that have little to do with storytelling. But the truth is that story is built in to our DNA. In the most basic and vital sense, story is how humans make sense of the world. It's our built-in mechanism for connecting the dots and crafting meaning and linear histories from the seemingly disparate moments that make up our collective lives.

And when it comes to filmmaking, story is everything. It's our number one tool for engaging an audience in a film. If we hook them by the heart, make them care about our characters, get them involved in the journey, well, then we can lead them anywhere. But the truth is that many of us don't actually understand story from a conceptual standpoint. We know about three-act structure, and we probably know about inciting incidents, that conflict is key, and all of that jazz. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of storytelling, the minutiae of the craft, many of us would be hard-pressed to say exactly how each individual story element affects the audience and moves them towards your intended purpose.

Stillmotion MUSE Storytelling Process

That's where our friends at Stillmotion come in. For years, Stillmotion has been on an epic quest to deconstruct storytelling into its most basic elements in order to create a repeatable step-by-step process for telling stories that move an audience. They've not only dug through the greatest stories ever told in this pursuit, but they've delved deeply into the psychological and neurological research behind why humans connect so deeply with some stories, but not with others.

What they've come up with is MUSE, and it's the most comprehensive, approachable guide to telling a story through the medium of film that has ever been created. As of today, MUSE comes in the form of an online course and physical toolkit (but more about that a little later). For now, here's the trailer for the MUSE pilot program, which officially launches today:

Here's the short version of the video if you can't watch. Stillmotion is launching the MUSE pilot program today, and registration is only open for one week. After it closes, there won't be another opportunity to snag the MUSE experience until later in the year. For $497, you get access to the full online course, which contains 8 unique and in-depth modules of storytelling goodness, plus a physical toolkit shipped to your door that contains workbooks, a poster, and a few other goodies.

MUSE Storytelling Process

You might be wondering what kind of content comes in the online course. In an excellent post on the Stillmotion blog last week, Patrick shared a small excerpt from the course that explains story structure in perhaps the clearest, most actionable terms that I've yet come across. Warning, this video alone may fundamentally change your understanding of effective storytelling.

A Brief Review of MUSE

For the past two weeks, I've had the honor of participating in an early version of MUSE, and I can tell you that it may very well revolutionize the way we think about storytelling. I know that sounds a bit hyperbolic, but hear me out. The folks at Stillmotion are deeply passionate and highly-skilled storytellers, and they're equally as passionate about educating the next generation of filmmakers. The convergence of these two factors results in something that is truly one-of-a-kind. 

What makes MUSE so fantastic is that every little step of the storytelling process is highly actionable. It's not an esoteric or purely conceptual course, but instead a crash course in the very same process that Stillmotion uses every single time they set out to make a film, and as such, it comes with so much supporting material and so many case studies that it's pretty much impossible not to understand the underlying concepts if you work your way through the entirety of the material.

MUSE Storytelling Process

As it stands right now, MUSE is a storytelling process for non-fiction storytellers. It's very explicitly designed for pulling characters and stories out of real life and crafting them into an engaging and moving narrative. This makes MUSE perfect for documentary filmmakers and people doing corporate work. If you work in those areas and want to sharpen your understanding how to craft a story, MUSE might be one of the best investments that you could ever make.

In its current form, MUSE isn't necessarily a tool for narrative filmmakers. While the content itself is relatively universal and can certainly be reverse-engineered and applied to the writing of a script, the course and its corresponding physical materials are mostly designed for documentary and corporate filmmakers. Stillmotion combats this a bit by including an in-depth case study of the recent narrative feature Still Alice. The inclusion of this case study makes it far easier to understand how these concepts can be applied to the process of creating characters, locations, and plot from scratch. Here's the trailer for Still Alice in case you haven't seen it:

In my chats with Patrick Moreau, founder of Stillmotion, he's shared some of the MUSE roadmap for the coming months and years. While the course is definitely designed around telling non-fiction stories at present, it's quite literally just a foundation for things to come. The idea is that the course, as it exists right now, will be the basis for more topical iterations in the future. There could a MUSE process specifically tailored to crafting a narrative film from scratch, or it could be even more specifically designed for dramatic films or comedic films or horror films. The possibilities are endless.

Sometime in the next few weeks I'll have a far more in-depth review of MUSE, although by that point, registration for the pilot program will have closed. As it stands now, I can't recommend it highly enough for non-fiction storytellers who work with existing characters and places. If you do that kind of work for a living, MUSE could make you a much stronger storyteller, which may enable you to work with better clients and charge higher rates. For narrative filmmakers, on the other hand, MUSE is definitely still valuable as there's no doubt that the process can be applied to the writing of a script. It will just require a bit of reverse-engineering on your part to make it work for you in that context. I'd still recommend it for narrative filmmakers, but just beware that it will require a bit of extra work.

If you're interested in learning more about MUSE and potentially signing up for the pilot program, head on over to the website    

Your Comment

68 Comments

I think this is an interesting program as a template for people who don't know how to tell stories (ie. companies who want to create more story driven briefs) but I can see most film makers being pretty pissed about this. I know there are formulas that are tried and tested in story telling but this seems to try and make the process more like painting by numbers which for me at least doesn't really inspire true creativity. Maybe it's just the way it's marketed? As a course in story telling for the uninitiated there might be some decent bits in there but I think the biggest issue is that it seems like it's creating a mould which let's face it, most writers and story tellers are (and should be) trying to break.

June 1, 2015 at 4:53PM, Edited June 1, 5:48PM

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Hey Kraig - Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, it certainly wasn't meant to come off like a painting by numbers. We certainly know that things like 3-act structure, character development, and plot building are nothing new and that it's been used in storytelling for years. It's the HOW though that seems to be fuzzy for a lot of folks.

What we are bringing with MUSE is a clear, tangible process by which to apply those ideas and concepts to stories across genres. It's not about making films like Stillmotion does and it's definitely not about making a mould - in fact, it's the opposite. It's about having a step-wise repeatable process to gain clarity in what you are trying to say with your stories and take specific steps to construct a strong ones viewers would care about, not making the same stories over and over again.

You mentioned that there are formulas that are tried and tested in storytelling and I would love it if you can share that with me. We haven't been able to find a clear process for something like story so I would be very interested to check it out and it would be great for others to have that to compare to as well. Thanks!

Joyce

June 1, 2015 at 6:23PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

I would personally just recommend people to buy the book Save The Cat. He gives some great story creation techniques for filmmakers and professionals alike. (ie creating a beat sheet) Also read Poetics by aristotle. Donald Miller recently wrote some interesting stuff on story and made it as simple as you can get. As for application its not hard you just start to do it recognize conflict and such and what is driving your story forward. Im sure Muse is a great program but $497 NO WAY.

June 1, 2015 at 10:19PM, Edited June 1, 10:19PM

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jacob
168

$497?? No thanks. Just get Robert Mckee's book STORY or other books on storytelling, have a genuine interest in telling GOOD stories, study films/commercials on your own, then start writing and developing your craft. Seriously that price is a joke.

June 1, 2015 at 5:55PM

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Miko Jacildo
Filmmaker
212

Hey Miko - reading books and studying stories on your own is certainly one way to do it. In fact we've done that for years (and still do :P). The fact of the matter is that most people don't have the time to devote to the amount of work needed to benefit from that, and it takes a lot of understanding to be able to develop a process - not just tips and tricks on how to craft a story.

MUSE is borne out of years of reading, research and the concepts presented are backed by sociology, anthropology, psychology and tested across genres from weddings to commercial to narrative and documentaries. With that level of detail and practical tools like workbooks and a Story Coach plus a full spectrum of learning tools (videos, quizzes, case studies etc) we feel that the price is more than reasonable. It's the same price as a new GoPRo camera and I'd say gaining a better understanding story has more value than that.

And yes I absolutely agree that doing it yourself is a key part to learning, which is why MUSE is built for learners to both learn AND apply the concepts. With or without MUSE we encourage everyone to jump in and get out there to tell stories, it's the best way to learn. Having clarity in how to do that though would be helpful for many people.

Oh and by the way, that Robert Mckee book is worth checking out (in case anyone else is wondering :)

Joyce

June 1, 2015 at 6:41PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Its is a joke! I agreed!!

June 1, 2015 at 7:34PM

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Jason Inoa
Director/Editor/Cinematographer
100

"Give me money so I can make a living off of trying to tell you how you can make a living doing things the right way." This appeals to the inexperienced because those with experience know how much of a joke this formula is and can see right through the pretty packaging. No to Film School, but yes to overly priced online secret formulas.

June 1, 2015 at 6:31PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1629

Hey Stephen - We certainly aren't saying no to film school and aren't saying this is a replacement for it but MUSE is an option for those who are looking to better understand story and find more clarity in how to tell it.

June 1, 2015 at 6:59PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

I love the structure. But definitely stepped off the gravy train when I saw the price for the course. Id love to use the workbooks and such, but definitely not going to shell out gear/production money I could use practicing how to tell stories instead of this.

June 1, 2015 at 6:36PM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
1055

Hey Chris - Thanks for sharing that. The structure and the process is what people find the most helpful in understanding what makes up the foundation of a good story and how to put it all together.

I certainly understand the importance of having gear / production money (after all, you need to shoot that story on something!) and we've chased that for years. I'll be the first to admit that I love our cameras and I used to lust over that elusive Epic or the MoVi, thinking it will make my films better. So we got a badass camera and more gear but it didn't make a huge difference - and then it hit us. What really was happening was that I was hoping that the glitter and effects will make up for the lack of story.

So we set out to find a process (for ourselves at first) to find, develop and tell better stories. And THAT's when we had a real shift - in our rates, the types of projects we were doing and the creative control that came with it. MUSE is what helped get us that.

As for the price, it's a fraction of the cost of most cameras out there and I feel that's a pretty good investment to make in better understanding story.

Joyce

June 1, 2015 at 6:55PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Still expensive for many people

June 1, 2015 at 7:38PM, Edited June 1, 7:38PM

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Jason Inoa
Director/Editor/Cinematographer
100

Sorry to be negative, but things like this - particularly when they come with a $500 price tag - really need to be called out.

On the documentary side, I can't comment on its usefulness other than to say I've worked with some top documentary filmmakers - with a string of cinema releases between them - and none of them would go near this with a barge-pole.

On the narrative side - Want to write good scripts? Then answer honestly - how many scripts have you read? They're online for free, all over the place - including this website.

Want to know more about story structure? Read Aristotle's Poetics. It's less than 100 pages - and you can probably get a translation for next to nothing for your Kindle. Want more? Campbell's 'Hero With A Thousand Faces' is handy too. Don't bother with McKee - he just takes 500 pages to say what other people said in far less.

Want interviews with writers and in-depth articles by someone who has actually done it? Go Into The Story can help. Again, it's free. As is the Q&A podcast.

Really want to spend some money? Buy Goldman's books on screenwriting.

And then? Read more scripts. And practise. Put in the work, do some study, and you'll get better. Anyone saying that they can do it for you is a charlatan.

If I had a foolproof system, I wouldn't bother selling it to everyone - I'd be retired and living off the proceeds of all the scripts I'd sold to production companies.

We're all trying to get better at what we do - and we should all be helping each other out, not taking advantage of that.

June 1, 2015 at 6:52PM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3496

Hey Alex - I agree that reading, doing your own research, hoping on forums, writing your own scripts and getting out there to get your feet wet is a great way to learn - but it's not for everyone. We too have real Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces (we kind of treat it like a bible around here :P) and countless other books as part of the development of MUSE and it's great - but also a lot to go through and a lot to digest.

What we're hoping to do is break it down and make it more easily understandable.

Education is something we value very highly, which is why the creators over at Stillmotion has put a lot of posts, all very accessible, and totally free. As for MUSE, it's a matter of creating a great high quality tool for folks to use while keeping our lights on. And while we may have different views, I do appreciate you sharing yours here for others to see.

Joyce

June 1, 2015 at 7:10PM, Edited June 1, 7:10PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Joyce - I think you're a credit to your company, and have given very polite and informative responses to everyone on here. I still think that it's a vastly overpriced product which can't live up to its claims... But at least there are some nice people working at the company.

June 2, 2015 at 10:31AM, Edited June 2, 10:31AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3496

Alex, that is some good advice. You know you can charge people for advice like that, or you can just keep on being a good person. Your choice.

June 1, 2015 at 8:37PM

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Ian Ford
161

On the podcast front, I'd highly recommend Scriptnotes. Hosted by John August (Big Fish, Frankenweenie) and Craig Mazin (Hangover 2&3, Identity Thief), they discuss big picture issues like structure and character, along with more minute crafty details on how to pace a scene, work on dialogue etc.

You can download recent episodes from johnaugust.com. I think they're planning on selling USB drives with all 200 episodes on in the next month or so, so if you're new to the show that's worth considering.

June 2, 2015 at 3:06AM

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Jon Mills
Filmmaker
630

My post was astonishingly good, but I don't think you need to read it three times.

June 2, 2015 at 3:06AM, Edited June 2, 3:07AM

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Jon Mills
Filmmaker
630

I a agree100%. Listen to the 200 episodes and if you have any questions you can email questions to them. This is one of the best podcast ever.

June 2, 2015 at 9:31AM

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Madara
writer/director
283

Wow $497!!!! Dramatica Pro is $129 and the Hero's Journey/Writers Journey books are around $15 each. $497 seems super steep for a writing model.

June 1, 2015 at 7:12PM

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In all fairness I was pretty sold on the project until the price. It sounds great and I love the look of the training and work materials but for a lot of people it would be an unjustifiable cost, as others have said that could be a new lens or tripod/slider etc. For a pilot project I really would have expected a lower price. That's not to say it doesn't look like a good quality product just a very expensive one.

June 1, 2015 at 7:18PM

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Hey James thanks for sharing your thoughts. What is and isn't expensive is going to be different for people and whether that is in gear, in a meal at a restaurant or in education that all comes down to the value it has for that person.

We've spent years developing and testing this process and feel good about the value it brings, but we certainly realize we can't please everyone. For those who are looking for something different we offer a ton of accessible, totally free education on our blog. Thanks for checking out MUSE.

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 1:22PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

I think I threw up

June 1, 2015 at 8:03PM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

lotta people bringing up the price! maybe they can show the reason for the price tag with their credentials, famous film people hosting it, more example videos, or last resort, even compare their method to others

June 1, 2015 at 9:17PM, Edited June 1, 9:17PM

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duplicate

June 2, 2015 at 1:39PM, Edited June 2, 1:51PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Hey Krys, thanks for bringing that up - perhaps I can share a bit here.

From an education standpoint we've taught storytelling concepts across the world for companies like Adobe, Youtube and Canon. We've also shared our storytelling ideas speaking at United Nations and Sundance. And from a user standpoint we've used the MUSE process to create work that's won multiple Emmy's.

As for famous people hosting it Shane Hurlbut and his team have taken the MUSE course and feel it provides substantial value. In their words, not ours, - “One hour turned into many, one session to two, and two to three. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t some magic pill you swallow or some color by numbers kit. MUSE is a journey of discovery.”

And like you we also feel that comparing this to other methods is another great way to look at it. If you know of other storytelling processes and/or methods (as suppose to single resources here and there) please do share them here so everyone can check them out. We sure would like to do that too. Thanks for your sharing your feedback here.

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 1:46PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

"I can tell you that it may very well revolutionize the way we think about storytelling."

Go ahead and tell us a story, and we'll see if it worked :)

June 1, 2015 at 10:03PM

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Brynn Sankey
Filmmaker
354

Hmm, those videos weren't particularly strong stories. I think you can give people all the best tools in the world and they can still write stories that don't work. Hollywood is a bit like that, they hit upon a repeatable formula, repeat it and often it doesn't work. But that's a really interesting question why it's not so easy to repeat. In the end I think it's mostly about the writer/creator just understanding the world through experience, see what is real and build on that. The reality of human emotions, the fickleness of them, seeing that makes good storytellers. Spend the money on visiting a world really far out of your own experience, make it visceral, tangible, involve yourself in it. Then I think you have a chance. Experience some fear.

June 1, 2015 at 10:24PM, Edited June 1, 10:24PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1839

Hey Jonathon, those are some great points. I think the thing to understand here is that this isn't a magic pill, but rather a step-wise process to provide some structure in what to look for and consider when building out stories. It won't tell stories for you and they certainly won't be the same, what it does provide is a way to navigate the process of understanding and constructing stories.

Seeing and experiencing the world is an awesome way to hone storytelling skills. There's nothing like it and I think many of us wish we could do that more often :) I sure do.

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 1:57PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

So maybe this is really a business problem. There are a lot of very, very good books, info and forums out there that can do that at a cheap cost. So if you customer has just stepped in from the cold and never written anything then maybe they will plum for your course. But if they did a modicum of googling about this kind of thing I think they would shy away.
So essentially you need a really great business manager who can place you in the market in a way that works, is cost effective and popular. So my criticisms (apart from the aesthetics of writing) are mainly business based. Listen to people. It's to much money. At the moment you have nothing unique. That's a hard sell.

June 2, 2015 at 2:17PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1839

I am a storyteller before a filmmaker, I have been doing this since I was a kid, and it annoy me when someone tells me how to tell my story. I'm sure a lot of people can relate with me here. But we are not everybody, and this program is great for the people who can't write by themselves. Still, if I am right, then this thing should be more accessible. This looks like a workshop (I hate them).

June 1, 2015 at 10:34PM

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Edgar More
All
1192

Hey Edgar - Thanks for sharing your point of view. We certainly can't please everyone and this isn't meant to. As far as workshops, different people learn in different ways...some are more visual, some prefer theory, some hands-on and others something entirely different. This is one form of learning and with as many resources we provide within the course this is as accessible as we can make it so that it's a sustainable offering. For those looking for something at a different level we offer tons of accessible education on our blog - totally free :)

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 2:02PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

This rubs me all the wrong way. Yuppee repackaging of regurgitated information.

June 2, 2015 at 1:11AM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
477

Wow, lote of hate here for something that is priced like a GoPro. The hard thing with these programs is that you never know for sure beforehand how much value it is going to be.
Respect for Joyce, and how she patiently responds :)

Last year I bought the online course 'Storytelling with heard'. I got an pdf with some films in it (tutorials) a small book. I paid 275 dollars (I think). Not all of it was usefull and there was a lot more promised, but I still use some of the stuff about story structure today at every gig I go to. Eventually they started working on Muse. This wasn't really communicated very well, and at first it seemed like I had to wait only a couple of months, but last fall I waited long enough. They said they would release Muse early this year, but I could get a refund of 100 bucks.

I really felt disappointed with the way I as a client and early believer was handled, but thats how it is. Now I see this platform and cant help to feel disappointed again, it seems like I missed out on something great. (and Im not going to pay 475 on top of the 175 I already payed)

I don't share the negativity here with it being not usefull. Offcourse there are a lot of excellend books and you can read and learn a lot of stuff by yourself, and you should. But as someone with an eductation background myself, I know how powerful one structured platform can be.

Anyway, goog luck with it. Will read the reviews.

June 2, 2015 at 4:37AM

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Gerbert Floor
DP / Director / Camera / Editor
318

duplicated - the website software is creating an additional post every time it autosaves, so longer comments are copied multiple times because the edit window is open longer.

June 2, 2015 at 1:16PM, Edited June 2, 1:18PM

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Eddy Robinson
Writer/Director
208

Of course you 'feel you missed out on something great' - that's part of the marketing. That's why it's 'patent pending!' - to convince you that it has value. But I think you should let it go and move on to other resources. Books are more work and less stimulating to read, but the extra effort pays for itself over and over.

And while it can be useful to have a workshop-format course on story, it can be useful to have on photography, on pre-production, on production management, on post-production, on distribution, on marketing....it never ends. Some of these things can be workshopped, but often the best education comes from a willingness to sit down and pore over deliverables documents or study contracts. For example, want to get your documentary on public television in the US? You could spend a lot of money on a workshop, but you'd be better off printing out everything on this page: http://www.pbs.org/producing/red-book/ ...which tells you really basic things like what length your program has to be for broadcast, what technical standards you need to use and so on. This sort of stuff is imposing and Not Fun, but knowing the constraints you have to work within is one of the key things that gives shape to your story.

Ultimately, a course in a box is a so-so substitute foryour personal exploration and for contact with other filmmakers. Your most valuable asset is your capacity to become obsessed by something and want to learn everything about it, whether that's a camera manual or a social issue. Cultivate that, find someone else with a similar capacity for obsession, and work on solving problems together.

June 2, 2015 at 1:16PM

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Eddy Robinson
Writer/Director
208

Hey Eddy - I'm really enjoying some great insights here.

"Your most valuable asset is your capacity to become obsessed by something and want to learn everything about it, whether that's a camera manual or a social issue. Cultivate that, find someone else with a similar capacity for obsession, and work on solving problems together."

That is so, so true.

And that in a sense is what we did, as a team, when it comes to obsessing and understanding story. But for those who don't have the bandwidth or desire to do that, we offer MUSE. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts about learning and obsessing over something you care about - couldn't agree more.

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 2:39PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Thanks for your understanding and support Gerbert :)

And thanks for sharing a bit about your StorytellingWithHeart experience. We've reached to folks from the SWH workshop about MUSE so you should have an email about that - if you haven't, please let me know and I will make sure the right folks get that to you.

We appreciate the constructive feedback, thank you.

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 2:09PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Is there a certain tight timeframe in which you are able to get feedback?
At the moment I officially don't even have time to write this (haven't seen the videos yet either), since I'm in post with a deadline coming closer...

I think it sounds interesting, although a bit pricey.
Offcourse you can read Aristoteles and Joseph Campbell (the latter goes far deeper into the hero's journey), but writing fiction is not completely the same as corporate stuff. Most people have a hard time creating a compelling corporate story.

June 2, 2015 at 4:56AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9023

Hey Walter,

People will complete the course on their own schedule and feedback will be collected throughout that time. We expect folks to take anywhere from 8-12 hours to complete and we suggest spreading that time over 4-8 weeks, meaning 2-4 modules every week.

Each module, complete with tutorial, case-studies, quizzes, and blueprints, takes about 60-90 minutes to complete. How many notes you take, how active you are in discussions, and if you do all the case studies helps determine whether you are on the high or low end of that.

And yes corporate stories are a bit harder to tell and we’ve used MUSE to tell a bunch of them so it would be neat to see how you and others apply it to their corporate stories.

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 2:40PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Thanks for the detailed reply :-)
Very usefull information.

I believe I am quite capable of telling corporate stories, but I also know there is room for improvement, so I am seriously considering MUSE.

June 4, 2015 at 1:33AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9023

I'd happily buy this if it were released as a book and priced accordingly. I would even pay a little more if the book included a DVD with the videos. The workbooks, poster and coaching are luxuries.

June 2, 2015 at 8:04AM

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Hey Barry - We’ve entertained the idea of a book and it’s certainly something worth considering for the future. Right now we’re focusing on the course here before we make any additional offerings. Thanks!

June 2, 2015 at 3:09PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Is this an actual post or sponsored ad?

June 2, 2015 at 9:29AM, Edited June 2, 9:29AM

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Madara
writer/director
283

Wow. I love all the negative judgement before you even know what the program entails. Not saying this product is good or bad, cause I really have no idea. But just shows the people on this forum care more about gear than they do about storytelling. This thing does come with life time access to the content. If you had life time access to anything, usually that costs more than the $500 this product offers.
Many film type of seminars/classes usually costs $300 or more a day to attend. Example: https://training.taoofcolor.com/buy-color-correction-training-md-r11/
And in this class you are learning only an aspect of filmmaking, not storytelling which is the catalyst for every other part of filmmaking.

June 2, 2015 at 10:02AM

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Tony
246

And this product also offers a moneyback guarantee if you don't like it.

June 2, 2015 at 10:07AM

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Tony
246

Tony - have a read back through the comments and you'll see that actually we're all interested and focused on storytelling. I've recommended a half dozen free/cheap ways of finding out more about storytelling. So have the other people on here.

All those $300 a day courses? Not worth it. Read, write, get feedback. That's all free - nobody (and no magic system) can do it for you.

June 2, 2015 at 10:29AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3496

Hey Tony,

Thanks for chiming in. Price and what that means is different for every person and we feel we’ve made this accessible for those who would value it. And yes, we feel strongly about MUSE and how effective it can be, which is why we’ve launched it with a moneyback guarantee. For those who go through the course and feel it doesn’t make a real impact for them we are happy to offer a refund.

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 3:09PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

How do you know a $300 program isn't worth it? If you never tried it how do you actually know the value you are getting? I'm saying people are making snap judgments but they really have no idea what the product is. What I'm not liking is people are making harsh judgments without actually knowing/trying anything about the product. Very much like how I see on other topics when a new camera comes out people make snap judgments without actually testing out the camera all based on specs alone. You never know which camera you like until you try the actual camera/equipment.
Everyone loves free stuff, I love all the free stuff! That's why NFS is awesome(Lots of valuable info). There is a lot of value in some free stuff given, but you also have to wade through a bunch of crap. Same with paid, some good, some bad.
These guys did win some Emmy's, whether you like their work or not, there is some value in what they say.
I like the money-back guarantee, if I went and bought a car and drove it off the lot and decided i don't like it a week later, I definitely don't get my money back.
And I agree, there is no magic system. Just good 'ol hard work! Persistence, maybe some luck, talent, etc.

June 2, 2015 at 4:06PM

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Tony
246

I have no issues with the price. (Even though I can't afford it at the moment.)
What I can't stand is the concept of dangling a carrot and saying if I don't grab said carrot in a week (For $497) the carrot will be placed in a bullet-proof glass case until another day when the carrot will be available again for an even more increased and unreachable (For many.) price tag. To me that's just bad form.

June 2, 2015 at 11:03AM

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Benja Lockridge
News Manager/Director/Cinemtographer/Screenwriter
134

Hey Benja,

The timeframe is set so that we can collect enough meaningful feedback in a timely manner to further build out the features learners like most. Honestly we aren’t sure what people find most helpful (whether that is in the workbook, in the case studies, in the story coaches) - we’re just not sure and once we get that feedback from people we can really elevate those specific things. Thanks!

Joyce

June 2, 2015 at 3:10PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Its called marketing, make the user feel they are about to loose out if they don't buy. Its why you have some stores in perpetual last minute sale.

June 8, 2015 at 4:36AM

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Kayode
922

God bless them for coming up with well designed products and selling them. Good on you. Not for me, but best of luck to you.

June 2, 2015 at 1:26PM

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Michael Markham
Actor/Filmmaker
989

Thanks Michael!

June 2, 2015 at 3:10PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

I'm not sure why everyone's attacking this program, and these people. I mean, sure, there are a ton of books, and yes, books are cheaper. There are other people saying this is a 'formula', which is clearly taboo in the world of storytellers.

But this isn't a book, and as they state, isn't a formula. I'm not trying to add to the commercial aspect of this post, but I mean, attacking something by stating something it's not really competing with, but is an alternate of, is just pointless. If you don't like the service, just don't get it and leave it at that.

June 2, 2015 at 1:52PM

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zac
82

I appreciate you sharing your perspective on this, thank you.

Joyce

June 4, 2015 at 8:32PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Okay, the price tag is perhaps a little too much. But I think there is a lot to learn in a program like this. And yes you can buy a better slider or another great gadget but that won't get you any closer to becoming a better story teller.

I am not saying that this program does, but it's worth a shot. At least it is to me.

June 2, 2015 at 2:58PM, Edited June 2, 2:58PM

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Kevin Jochems
Director / Cinematographer / Editor
83

Thanks for the post. This came at a great time because I'm getting ready to embark on developing something very story and character driven. Everything I've done before has been more visual. Need to work on my storytelling skills!

June 3, 2015 at 12:56AM

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Donovan Vim Crony
Director, DP, Editor, VFX, Sci-Fi Lover
350

Hey Donovan, would love to hear what you think of it!

Joyce

June 4, 2015 at 8:33PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

$500 isn't a lot if it can make your story 5% better. Muse might do very well, attracting the attention of those who are mandated to enrol in professional development programs.
I wonder if a partial free release would help quell some of the criticism so that people can have some idea of what they are purchasing?

June 3, 2015 at 11:45AM

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Hey Thomas - Thanks for the suggestion. We believe firmly in MUSE and the incredible value it brings so it is our hope that others will see that as well. As a studio we've released tons of free education on our blog so we have a history of how we educate and the quality / depth of the content.

We are also asking folks who have enrolled and logged into the course to share some insight into how they feel the price correlates to the value they feel it brings to their understanding and application of story. I'm sure others would also like to hear that as well.

Joyce

June 4, 2015 at 8:39PM, Edited June 4, 8:39PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

Wow. So much negativity. Although, I gotta say, a part of me was expecting it. There does seem to be a pattern of NFS readers hating on stuff like this. Not sure why.

How many countless resources of FREE content has the SM team put out? Hundreds of articles over the years. Who knows how many hours of videos (all well-produced by the way). Podcast interviews. Presentations at expos. Etc. Here's a group of people who have put in the work to give back to the community with actionable resources at NO COST. As a blogger and content producer myself, I know what goes into that kind of free education. Education that is often unappreciated.

So more power to them if they want to offer some detailed content at a price. If they were an unproven company that had never done a lick of work in the industry, then came out with a $500 seminar, I'd totally understand. But c'mon guys. Give me a break. This is an Emmy-award winning team who has done work for Fortune 500 companies. Their work speaks for itself. Their experience speaks for itself. It's not like these are a bunch of hacks trying to sell you sand in a desert.

Also, many of the resources you all have pointed (e.g. McKee, etc.) are strongly geared towards narrative fiction. SM is talking about finding a "story" from the perspective of a brand, person or organization. That IS a skillset that can taught.

Those of us who do corporate films for a living know that there are ways you can tell a brand story that is boring (i.e. talking head after talking head delivering stats); or that inspire and engage an audience. Many people starting out in this biz gravitate to the former. Here's an opportunity to learn how to do the latter from a team who has walked the walk.

As far as the price... that's all relative. If it's too much for you, that's okay. Just read or watch the gajillion other FREE resources SM has put out.

June 3, 2015 at 11:59AM

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Ron Dawson
Frame.io Blog Editor & Host of "Radio Film School"
278

Nicely said :-)
But you forgot that the boring talking head video should start with an overview of every surface that carries the company's logo: the cars, the building, the sign at the reception, a flag in front of the office and so on ;-)

Narrative in corporate videos is underestimated by a lot of people.

June 4, 2015 at 1:37AM, Edited June 4, 1:37AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9023

Thanks for the support friend :)

Joyce

June 4, 2015 at 8:39PM

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Joyce Tsang
Creative Director + DP
582

As someone who has been going through the MUSE program for the last week, I can say with certainty that it is an extremely valuable resource.

StillMotion and their process may not fit for some, but for people like me who need a pragmatic approach to building story, it is invaluable.

In fact, it was because of the impact their method had on my storytelling that I created a film-planning app that followed and implemented the SM principles (the app was never made publicly available as it conflicted with MUSE and StillMotion's patented process).

While going through the comments here, it's clear that the common thread is around the price and perceived value of the curriculum.

It seems that the root of the dissension is around the fact that StillMotion has decided to place their refined and comprehensive process behind a paywall.

Since this represents a paradigm shift in their model from free and open instructive content to withholding content behind payment, the reaction among the community of has been understandably averse. Especially among the large number of us independent filmmakers who have great difficulty in affording such programs.

However, I believe StillMotion's decision to monetize their hard work to be more than reasonable as they have a product of great value to filmmakers.

They clearly have a passion for creating great stories and sharing what they've learned with other filmmakers in the community so I see nothing wrong with charging people a fair price to learn their process.

I look forward to seeing where StillMotion takes MUSE over the coming months and I continue to search for ways I can give back to them, as well as the filmmaking community, what they have given to me.

June 8, 2015 at 12:42AM, Edited June 8, 12:44AM

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Justin Houtz
Designer/Developer/Filmmaker
100

I bought this course and within the first fifteen minutes I already regretted my purchase. But plugging ahead for another grueling half-hour on the hope I was wrong and perhaps MUSE actually WAS the inspirational miracle one would expect after reading nofilmschool's rave reviews, I found instead my initial regret intensified.

MUSE does not "revolutionize the way we [I] think about storytelling". In fact, the "storytellers" who appear in the videos failed from my perspective in telling their "story about story". They were extremely difficult to watch, deliberately over-punching words and flailing hands as if their hands were helping emphasize their "message". But even if MUSE had hired professional actors to deliver the script, it still would not work for me, and I should have known better.

I hate to say it, but, Emmy's notwithstanding, I was unmoved by the examples MUSE offered in defense of their approach to great storytelling. I wanted to scream while watching the woman who sewed footballs for a living. But who am I to disagree with Emmy winning film makers? My lack of interest and enthusiasm must be rooted in my own lack of creativity.

To others who may find themselves in my situation, let's hope the refund promise is more reliable than the "MUSE will change dramatically the way you look at storytelling forever" promise.

MUSE, if you're reading this, please don't get me wrong. MUSE might be just right for somebody. But not for me. Thanks, anyway.

June 9, 2015 at 8:37AM

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Harry Governick
Actor / Writer
81

I just enrolled and started my first lesson and I love every single minute of it.

This course is not for people who just want to sit there in front of your laptop and be spoon fed. It's for people who wants to learn about story telling. You have to empty your cup in order to receive new knowledge. Forget about what you learn in the past from books or seminar, just pretend you are a newbie and give yourself a chance to re-learn story telling in a different way and trust me, you'll be rewarded with "How come I didn't think of that"?

I am writing from Singapore and I'm glad I found MUSE!

June 9, 2015 at 11:46AM

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I paid hundreds of dollars to be an academy member of Story & Heart, which has many of the same Stillmotion people who designed this MUSE program. Thus, I was disappointed to see that being a part of this cool new MUSE program requires even MORE money instead of including it for the people who already forked over hundreds less than a year ago for their Story & Heart Academy.

Joyce Tsang pointed out in replies on this thread that they were at least offering a discount for Story & Heart Academy members. Thus, I replied to a Story & Heart email about said discount, and asked them "If I sign up for MUSE, how do I know the next big idea you guys come up with won't require yet another subscription and hundreds of dollars?"

Welp, no one replied (that was 12 days ago). Even though they viewed the email 7 times over a period of 2 days (10 days ago). Thus, I never even got an offer of a discount, and missed the MUSE signup deadline.

So, fair warning NFS members, Stillmotion seems more interested in responding to NFS comment posts than returning emails to their current paying customers. Pretty frustrating. Not sure who would want to be a part of their programs after that. Wonder if they'll respond now?

June 17, 2015 at 5:42PM, Edited June 17, 5:45PM

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Bill Worley
Producer / Videographer at Mother Nature Network (MNN.com)
86

Is Stillmotion's MUSE program really worth the cost? A 'pilot' asks Patrick Moreau some tough questions: http://lintelfilm.uk/blog/muse-vs-muser

October 2, 2015 at 1:09PM

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Matt James Smith
Founder, Lintelfilm Video Production
155