Empathy: The Most Important Element in a Storyteller's Kit Bag

Video production is, at every stage, about being in tune with other people.

From understanding a project brief and a client's needs, to working with a crew on set, to the empathetic gauntlet-run that is conducting interviews and the psychological labyrinth that is getting into your audience's head while editing, managing to see the world from the perspective of others can be a make-or-break attribute for a filmmaker. 

Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man's epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

Filmmaker Ryan Booth (who recently shot an excellent behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of The Revenant - see above) gets this point across better than anyone in an impassioned talk he gave for the Creative Mornings series late last year:

Ryan Booth speaks on the importance of empathy for yourself, your collaborators, and your clients. 

If you want to hear more, Ryan also wrote an in-depth articlefor Musicbed covering his thoughts on the topic.

It’s about being present, it’s about creating real moments, and it’s about doing it together.

— Ryan Booth

It's a hard line to walk for us creatives - we need the affirmation that comes with praise for our work and often it's a necessary trait to ignore the opinions of others in order to stay true to a vision- art is not created through democracy. However singularity of vision is not the same thing as arrogance and pig-headedness.


Roman Krznaric is also worth a few minutes listening to on the subject of empathy.

Roman Krznaric is a cultural thinker and writer on the art of living. This talk is based on his new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. Roman is a founding faculty member of The School of Life in London, and advises organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and conversation to create social change.
  Empathy  by philosopher Roman Krznaric

Empathy by philosopher Roman Krznaric


What do you think? Is empathy just a buzzword or is there something of value in what Ryan says?