How Do Stories Work? Part 6: How is the attention economy changing the way we tell stories?

Dear Storyteller,

As filmmakers, we must adapt and evolve with the times to capture and maintain our audience’s attention while keeping purpose and authenticity at the core of our storytelling.

Many purists would consider the idea of ‘versioning a story’, that is adapting it for different ‘channels’, to conflict with the very soul of the storyteller.  A story should simply have the time it needs to be well told.

But what works ‘best’ depends on the context of the telling. We no longer communicate sat face-to-face around an open fire but through multiple and proliferating digital media. We have been suddenly removed from millions of years of storytelling evolution.

However, the need to communicate across multiple media can be an invaluable opportunity for stories to reach and connect with wider audiences. Film narratives need to be crafted into multiple variants to engage, not as auteur works of art, but as purposeful tools with a central unifying message.


In times of seemingly dwindling attention spans, the pressure is on to communicate the essence of a message more quickly.

But how fast can you tell a story with a sense of context, character, place and emotion, whilst also letting it breathe, before the story falls apart and the essence is lost?

Of course, our attention span depends on viewing context and on how invested the audience is in your subject before they take their seat.

So, you need different versions to engage different audiences watching with different levels of pre-existing attenuation to your message, from the active listener to the casually curious.


Is it possible to tell a complex story dealing with complexity, multiple characters, and the nuance of human emotion in one minute?

Well yes, but not in one step. Editing, unlike say sculpting, is a non-destructive process of refinement. So by a careful process of distillation, each step yields a shorter yet distinct form that can be used to connect with audiences in different ways, each time stripping away more of the context and complexity whilst bringing the essence more sharply into focus.

Here’s a recent example of this creative versioning process in action.

The brief from our colleagues ImpactEd Group was to reveal the transformation of a child enabled by the concentrated attention of an adult, herself guided by the skilful evaluation of data.

Each version of the film had to convey more and more succinctly both the context and emotion of a transformative experience.


How can data help transform the life of a child?

Edit phase 1 (8 days)

5’00″ version for a Campaign Launch for a pre-invited captive audience


Edit phase 2 (2 days)

2’30” version for Branded Channels for a partially engaged remote audience that has navigated to your domain


Edit phase 3 (1 day)

1’00″ version for Social Media for an audience with passing curiosity surfing your content via media feeds guided by hashtags and leading text.

What remains is the transformative essence of a relationship. An adult really listening to a child.

“I didn’t have that one person I could talk to. And now I have.”


So attention is in short supply.

As the attention economy pulls us into a vortex of distraction, we need to fall in love again with being.

And films, as channels of emotion, can remind us of the very essence of who we are.

All we need is someone to listen, and someone to listen to.


How do stories work? A newsletter for storytellers, changemakers and dreamers:



Got a story to tell?  Or purpose to communicate? Need some friendly advice?

🎯 Please get in touch.


#AttentionEconomy #CreativeProcess #FilmmakingProcess #SparkFilms #FilmsToBelieveIn #TurningChanceIntoDestiny #Purpose #Authenticity #Filmmaking #Storytelling #HowStoriesWork #DocumentaryFilmmaking #WhatMakesAGoodStory #FilmProductionBristol #VideoProductionBristol #BristolFilmmakers #BristolStoryTellers #DocumentaryFilmmakerBristol

Moonraker VFX, a Bristol-based Visual Effects Studio, took part in the RTS Futures Festival yesterday, offering valuable insights, advice and information to aspiring individuals seeking a career in the television industry.

The free event took place at M Shed on Bristol’s Harbourside and drew over 400 young attendees, where a range of the city’s media organisations were on hand to give careers advice.

Hosted by the Royal Television Society, the RTS Futures Festival provided a platform for industry professionals to connect with graduates and students, guiding them through the complexities of the modern broadcasting landscape.

Moonraker—known for its groundbreaking work in Natural History programming including the BBC’s recent Earth series—engaged with attendees, sharing knowledge and experiences to inspire the next generation of talent.

Simon Clarke, Creative Director at Moonraker, commented, “Participating in the RTS Futures Festival was a fantastic opportunity for us to connect with the bright minds set to become future leaders of the television industry in the decades to come. Moonraker’s presence at the event underscores the studio’s commitment to fostering talent and contributing to the growth of the sector.”

RTS Futures aims to help graduates and those in the early stages of their career to progress and learn about different areas of television. It has an ongoing calendar of events, learn more:

Recent research from the CMI Good Management Report states that 52% of managers do not hold any management qualifications and 82% of managers who enter leadership roles have not had any formal training. As such they become ‘accidental manager’s’. We know that ineffective managers have a deep impact on employees including motivation loss, below par satisfaction, and more probability of staff wanting to leave their role.

*NEW for 2024 is Weston College’s new funded training programme, ‘Step up to Lead’ which is suitable for any team members and businesses that may be looking to or are on route to progress leadership/team manager roles. Weston College will be delivering funded training to business in Bristol.

The training will challenge these statistics and implement a pipeline of trained, talented managers into your organisation. It is underpinned by the Leadership and Management diploma but has been condensed to a 6-month certificate programme to respond to business need for shorter training options that yield effective results.

If you are keen to explore any of the above further, please reach out to start your next generation of leaders on the right track.

[email protected]

Join Weston College in the heart of Bristol to learn more about supporting the next generation of creatives! Are you looking at offering work placements? Internships?

Looking to grow your team?

Give back to a new generation through guest lecture and project work?

Want to find out more about Weston College? We may surprise you….

The Faculty of Creative Arts Employer Forum is designed to work alongside industry to deliver industry aligned curriculum, work experiences, progression and employment routes and pipeline talent. Courses covered at Weston College and University Centre Weston include:

Game & Animation

Creative and Digital Media

Broadcast, Journalism and Podcasts

Performing Arts and Theatre

Art and Design – including fashion, textiles and business


Tuesday 7th November


Bristol Training Institute, 12 Colston Avenue, BS1 4ST

RSVP [email protected]

If you have individuals in your workforce that have responsibilities to manage projects or people; why not offer them the opportunity to gain formal training alongside their day to day duties? If cost is an issue, we can help access funding for you to develop your team at no extra charge and no change to the quality of delivery.

We have learned that nearly 26% of senior managers and leaders and half (52%) of managers also claimed they have had no formal management or leadership training. The rise of the ‘accidental manager’ has become part of many company – regardless of size and sector.

‘Accidental managers’ without proper leadership training contributing to almost one in three workers walking out, research finds (

A separate CIPD study discovered growing evidence of the importance of line management. According to the survey, the quality of line management has an impact on employees’ health and wellbeing.

We can help

On the 22nd November at 11am, we will be holding an information webinar via Teams, where we will take you through the Management Apprenticeships or Non Apprenticeship training route.

The trainings will take place in Weston-super-Mare and Central Bristol – starting in January 2024.

This investment in your people will help your business to:

This training could be part of fully funded depending on the training undertaken. We can also underpin the training with Insights Discovery or help continue training into project management, HR and more.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the webinar with Business Partnership Manager, Lynsey McKinstry and arrange a follow up with our Employer Apprenticeship Advisor, Becky Vincent, and our Specialist Area Manager, Louise Perkins. You will learn all about the Institute of Leadership and Management development for middle managers and routes for Senior Managers.

To find out more information, and to book your place, click here!

We look forward to seeing you there.

Source: ‘Accidental managers’ without proper leadership training contributing to almost one in three workers walking out, research finds (

Watch the recording of this webinar now

As part of Bristol Technology Festival 2023, our founder Harry explores the ins and outs of UX design, and why a user-centric approach is absolutely crucial.

In this webinar he explains why UX design is so much more than just wireframing, and how it should be seen as a process rather than a solution. Harry also uncovers how a clear UX-led strategy can lead to a long term competitive advantage.

Bristol-based Professional Apprenticeships celebrates an Ofsted Outstanding grade across all the grading criteria at its first full inspection. This accomplishment is such a rarity with only a handful of apprenticeship providers achieving this result.

In 2021 Professional Apprenticeships gained the highest grade in an Ofsted provider monitoring visit and then went on to win the award for Apprenticeship Provider of the Year.

Established in 2016 by Carina Bush and Adam Rooke, Professional Apprenticeships is now a leading provider of digital, technology, marketing, and business apprenticeships. The Outstanding grading reflects the success of its apprentices with an impressive 100% first time pass rate in End Point Assessments and 81% achieving a distinction.

Both Carina and Adam are former apprentices themselves and attribute their success to having the lived experience of starting their careers by taking the apprenticeship route.

In its report Ofsted states of the Professional Apprenticeships’ team: “Apprentices receive continually improving, high-quality teaching that develops their knowledge, skills, and behaviours. Consequently, nine-tenths of apprentices achieve a merit or distinction in their final assessments”.

Commenting Carina said: We’ve worked so hard to deliver the best recruitment, training, and support to our apprentices and employers, and the whole team is immensely proud of this achievement. We have lived and breathed apprenticeships for so long and we are excited to support more apprentices and employers throughout England.”

High-quality training providers like Professional Apprenticeships have never been more vital. They not only address the pressing recruitment challenges faced by employers but also offer individuals an entry point into new and rewarding careers.

The relationship between this remarkable training provider and the Bristol’s booming digital and technology sector exemplifies the potential of apprenticeships to drive progress, both for individuals and the wider industry.

How Do Stories Work? Part 5 On myths and Madness?

“I didn’t enjoy butchering this magnificent creature, but you apparently need a wake-up call that even you should be able to understand.”

Grant Hadwin


Dear Storyteller,

Domicide is the act of destroying one’s own home.  It can also be a tendency, carried out through the repetition of thousands of hidden actions, mostly out of sight and out of mind.

I’ve been wanting to write a post on this subject for a while, but have been holding back, waiting for a triggering moment.  And last Wednesday that moment arrived when the Sycamore Gap came crashing into the cosy living room of our collective imagination.

The loss of a beautiful lone tree fuelled a predictable outcry.  The media fuelled the outrage, baying for the punishment of some ‘degenerate youth’, before pivoting to turn with less outrage on a ‘crazy old man’, perhaps a ‘former lumberjack’.

What is it about one tree that causes us such outspoken agonies while the destruction of the wider world continues unabated with passive acceptance?  Could this have something to do with the power of the totem, working as symbolic pressure valve to channel and dissipate our collective sense of grief and loss at the destruction of our home, releasing our outrage so we can return to business as usual?

When I heard the news, my first thought was not for the tree but for the person who had chopped it down.  What could have been their motivation?  For this must have been a carefully planned act, and so can’t be easily dismissed as some moment of ‘madness’.  No, to me, this felt like a howl of pain, a wake-up call that I recognised immediately.

In 2007 I started a 7-year filmed investigation into the motivations of another ‘environmental terrorist’, who orchestrated another attack on an ancient tree in an apparently mindless ‘crime against nature’.  But it was not that simple.

Desperate times call for desperate actions.

On the islands of Haida Gwaii, a remote archipelago off Canada’s Pacific coast, stood a giant and genetically unique Sitka Spruce, known to the indigenous Haida people as ‘K’iid K’iyass’.  Owing to the unusual yellow pigmentation of its needles, outsiders called it ‘The Golden Spruce’.

There it stood on the banks of the Yakoun River for 250 years, protected from the enveloping tide of industrial logging in its own protected reserve, complete with tourist trail and signage.  Until one night in January 1997, when a lone former logger and timber engineer called Grant Hadwin arrived under the cover of darkness to cut it down.

A Mythical Being

For the Haida, ‘The Golden Spruce’ was much more than an object of scientific curiosity, a beautiful ‘freak’ of nature. For them this was a mythical being, a boy transformed into a tree, a sacred elder that stood as a wonderous manifestation of the connectedness of all things- a kin-centric belief system.

And Grant Hadwin, himself an instrument of the system of industrial extraction, had come to destroy it in a self-proclaimed act of protest.  What kind of madness was this?

This is an extract from the letter that Grant wrote to the authorities justifying his actions:

“Dear Sir or Madam,

I don’t care much for ‘freaks’ whether they teach in University classrooms, sit in corporate board rooms, perform in the circus or are put on display as examples of old growth forest.

I mean this action to be an expression of my rage and hatred towards university trained professionals and their supporters whose ideas, ethics, denials, part truths and attitudes appear to be responsible for most of the abominations done towards life on this planet made in the name of ‘progress’.

I didn’t enjoy butchering this magnificent creature, but you apparently need a wake-up call that even you should be able to understand.

It was challenging to leave this majestic plant in a temporary vertical position.

The next storm will cause this one thousand year old plant to fall into or near The Yakoun River.  Please find enclosed some of the last known photographs of ‘The Golden Spruce’. 

Yours truly,

Grant Hadwin.”

And this was my film interpretation of the aftermath of what had happened.

The Aftermath

What insight might this story give us into the mind of the individual who took down our cherished Sycamore?

And what does this particular choice of totem, the lone tree left standing in a sea of devastation, tell us about the timeless forces of corruption at work on humanity, and about our separation from the land, our natural home?

Two Solitary Trees and The Legacy of Extraction

The Golden Spruce came with its own ancient mythology, with a story that began with the murderous arrival of the Europeans in 1774.  The British came bearing ‘gifts’ of blankets laced with smallpox, hoping to wipe the indigenous people from the face of their land.  70% of the Haida population died in the enveloping plague, with lone survivors retreating into the sanctuary of the forest.  Among them were a village elder and his grandson.  As they fled the village, the boy ignored his grandfather’s advice not to look back, and found himself rooted to the ground, a boy transforming into a tree.

And there K’iid K’iyass stood for 250 years, one tree preserved by the logging company as a living cultural artefact, while the rest of the ancient forest was cut down and hauled to the mill, first as masts for ships of war, and then to build the frames of aircraft that brought death from the skies.

And the Sycamore Gap bears the same legacy.  A lone tree, left in a sea of devastation, the land wiped clean by the civilising forces of Rome as far as the wall of Hadrian, built to keep out the savages who still lived from the land and who resisted agriculture, taxation and wage slavery.  The wall was there to keep the money economy of Rome safe and sound until the empire burned under Nero, incinerated by the flames of its own self-serving corruption and arrogance.

How do stories work? A newsletter for storytellers, changemakers and dreamers:


Got a story to tell?  Or a purpose to champion? Need some friendly advice?

#Storytelling #Filmmaking #Authenticity #Purpose #Meaning #FilmsToBelieveIn #DocumentaryFilmmaking #FilmProductionBristol #BristolFilmmakers #DocumentaryFilmmakerBristol


Clare Leczycki shares an update on the Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme.

We are just over halfway through the pilot year of the Bristol Create Industries Internship Programme, a scheme set up and funded by Bristol Creative Industries and and a group of members. It gives young people from under-represented backgrounds a chance to explore the different roles in the creative industries.

The programme, delivered in partnership with Babbasa as part of the #OurCity2030 initiative, provides interns with placements at two different agencies over a six-month period.  

It aims to:

Our interns switched placements this month and are now working in their second agency.  

During this process, several opportunities came up and we off-boarded three of the interns early. 

Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme

Seren Spooner was offered a job at Armadillo as a junior designer and decided to take the opportunity to move into full- time work.  

“As a graphic designer, I was initially unsure about going into client service, but quickly found that I really enjoyed it. Agency structure has been a highlight for me and being openminded about all the different roles and opportunities available within an agency has been really interesting. It has allowed me to see where my experience and skills can fit with an organisation like Armadillo.

“I really wouldn’t be anywhere without this programme; it has made the transition out of university so incredibly easy. To have a variety of roles put in front of you is amazing, and even though I won’t be changing my agency and role in the second part of the programme, as I was offered a full-time position, to have the opportunity to switch and learn new skills at a new company makes such an impact.

“The support that you get from your peers throughout the programme is also so impactful, we have all been there for each other throughout this process which has been amazing.”

Mohd Wani decided to go back into education to do a masters in UX at one of the most prestigious universities in the UK: 

“This programme has given me a new career path in an industry I never thought would be for me. By moving into UX design from graphic design, I can now see myself excelling more in this role than I ever could’ve imagined in graphic design.

“In four months on this programme working in UX, I can see more improvement in myself than in three years of training in graphic design.

“The work I have completed at Atomic Smash has helped me to secure a place at the Royal College of Art, which I will be starting later this year. But I have also been offered a full time by Atomic Smash when I finish my course, so I know my future is secure.

“The programme has taught me great networking skills, and different ways of talking to people. The skills sessions we do each week has also given me so many additional skills outside of my day-to-day job which are so valuable, and that is all thanks to this programme.

“The work I have done because of the programme and the skills that I now have, has helped me get rid of my past feelings of ‘I don’t belong here’, and now I know that I do.

“I would tell anyone thinking of joining the programme to just do it. It will give you so many different opportunities to find out what you are good at, what you are in to, and what your career path can be.”

Laurel Beckford is now working with Babbasa’s communications team:

 ”The BCI internship programme is one of the best out there for any individual looking to get their foot into the creative sector. The amount of support I have received is incredible and gives you so many opportunities to build up your skills.

“I was made aware of the programme through Babbasa and worked with them to help me with the process of getting in touch with BCI.

“Before I came on this programme, I didn’t know one thing about building a website, and now I can and have learnt so many skills.

“I have travelled to London with my agency, met clients face to face, and been involved in a photoshoot, which has been a real highlight.

“The BCI Internship programme can help anyone make their way into the creative sector and will give you the chance to do that.”

Whilst we are sad to be saying goodbye to some of the interns, we are incredibly excited to see opportunities created by the network and it’s brilliant to see the young people thrive and move onto the next stage of their career. We look forward to hearing more about how they are getting on in the coming months.

Other interns have also been offered jobs but have chosen to complete the internship programme, while some are exploring further training to hone their skills.

You can see the agencies currently involved in the progamme here.  

Interested in getting involved?

The pilot programme will finish at the end of November. We will then review and reflect on the learnings from the interns and participating agencies to see how the scheme can be further developed and expanded. We are particularly excited to be working more closely with the team at Babbasa to develop our onboarding and training processes for the next round.

Conversations for the 2024 Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme has begun. If you run a creative business in Bristol and are interested in hearing more about how to get involved, contact BCI membership manager Alli Nicholas on [email protected]

In this ebook from Rin Hamburgh, you can read all about what expertise is, how to demonstrate it, and how to leverage the subject matter experts in your business to create goal content.

> Download the full ebook here for free.

Tackling noise and cynicism in a post-truth world

No 21st century business would disagree with the assertion that the technological advances of the last couple of decades have fundamentally changed the marketing industry.

From build-it-yourself-website platforms to single-print self-publishing services to ChatGPT-generated content, the barriers to entering the competition for people’s attention has never been lower. Winning that competition, however, has never been more challenging.

But the challenge is not simply that it’s difficult to be heard above the noise. The ease with which literally anyone can publish content has made people cynical. As a result, they’re no longer asking, “What can you tell me?” Instead, they’re demanding, “Who are you to tell me?”

In this context, not only is it not enough to create content. It’s not even enough to create articulate content, or content that hooks people’s attention on social media, or tick’s the right boxes for Google’s ever-changing algorithms.

Instead, businesses need to dig deep into the knowledge, skills and experience within their people and create content that is brimming with something AI-driven content mills can’t reproduce: expertise.

Expertise is, firstly, a positioning strategy

There are many ways to position a brand in a marketplace. You can compete on price or personality, values, location or, if you’re lucky, the uniqueness of your product or service offering. Or you can choose an expertise-based positioning strategy.

Expertise builds trust. It encourages loyalty. It allows you to charge a premium because it shows you’re wiser and sharper than the next brand – and you can prove it. If members of your team have mastered certain disciplines and subjects, why would you try to compete on price?

This strategy is also a strong choice because it’s difficult to emulate. You can’t fake expertise, or not for long anyway. Only a few brands have what it takes to even qualify – and fewer know how to translate the expertise within their business into marketing strategy.

But, if it is to have an impact, expertise-based positioning can’t simply be a strategic choice. It needs to be executed well. In other words, you can’t just say you’re an expert, you have to prove it.

Why choose an expertise-based positioning strategy?

> Download the full ebook here for free.