Storytelling in sponsored films (Part 1)

Being forced to the story

Storytelling in Sponsored Films
Storytelling in Sponsored Films: The 10 most important items: Storytelling in film

Sponsored films time and again decide to tell a story. This four-part series will shed light on the most important motivating factors and decision-making points underlying this decision.

Part 1 explains when storytelling should be applied. Part 2  discusses the most important aspects of storytelling. Part 3  summarizes key points in the form of cues in a checklist. Part 4 , to close the series, presents examples how sponsored films can be inspired by feature films.

Factual Content

A favorite and wide-spread error is the belief that every good film has to tell a story. This is wrong on a number of levels.

  1. There are films whose only and absolutely legitimate purpose is to demonstrate a factual content . Of course, even a short documentary film about a highly specialized industrial pressing machine for aluminium sheets tells a story. The sheet is unmachined beforehand. Later it is stamped out. But for a potential buyer interested in licensing the pressing machine the description of its precision is relevant. Not the story. For the seller as the commissioner of the film the same would apply.
  2. Stories need to be transported, i.e. narrated. Unfortunately, not every person is a born story-teller. Even the camera cannot change this, although the lowbrow narrator might want to use it as a crutch. If the means of the commissioner are not sufficient for engaging a talented story-teller behind the camera (author, director, cameraman, cutter) or in front of the camera (actor, filming scenes), it is better to avoid a story altogether.
  3. Emotions and stories are two different pairs of shoes that do not necessarily condition each other mutually. Situations without lines of development can also be orchestrated in a highly emotional manner and offer a wide identification range to the viewer, provided the audience can combine the episode with its own world of experience.
  4. A story requires a minimal time budget in order to develop. Why do you think most advertising film makers fail when attempting feature films and why are TV commercials by makers of feature films not always an aha moment? This is because the feature film maker wants to tell a whole story in just a few seconds. And because the maker of the TV commercial wants to extend to ninety-minute situations that are meant only for seconds. (Here I explain why situations are not stories.)

A story is a three-dimensional depiction of being human. It tells about changes in three

What is a story?

A narration or story for longer film formats (image film, product film, training film, etc.) should be defined as follows in accordance with the documentary and feature film.

A story is a three-dimensional depiction of being human. It tells about changes in three worlds:

  1. the outer world of actions, the emotional world of relationships and the inner world of identity. And about the mutual dependence of the worlds. This lets stories help us understand who we are. Stories in sponsored films shape identity.
  2. A story is a discourse of values: It narrates  values. In this way it represents a possibility to communicate through our individual and social values. In sponsored films stories constitute communities of values.
  3. Stories reflect development processes. They narrate the creation, enactment and dissolution of challenges by which changes take place. Stories create the chance for positive change in the sponsored film.


Not everything between the beginning and the end is a story. Not every good film requires a story. Stories are fascinating. So are great situations. What is crucial is that the choice between both options is made through proper consideration in view of the intended effect.

Über Kristian Widmer 27 Artikel

Kristian Widmer (49) is Executive Producer and CEO of Condor Films Ltd. He has been advising customers on film and video for 23 years.

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