POV 101: Tell a Story

With helmet cams ubiquitous at ski resorts and on trails, everyone is a filmmaker nowadays. But making a good movie takes some practice, planning, and just a pinch of luck.

A rough outline for a POV adventure film.     Photo: Keese Lane

“Good stories have conflict, so in an outdoor movie that will generally mean an obstacle to overcome. Make the action of your movie into an objective,” says Patrick Carroll, an assistant video editor for the firm of Wieden and Kennedy. “Build the groundwork for your story by introducing the characters and telling us what they need/want to achieve. Show us what kind of challenge they face. Get to the actual event itself, the mountain or the trail or wave, whatever. Show the failures and then, finally, the resolution. Did they achieve what they set out to do? Are they coming back for more?”

Let’s use “My Life Be Like” as an example of all of Carroll’s points. Mulkey introduces himself as he wakes up. He shows us his bedroom, a personal place, then shows himself getting into his car. Neither of these are exciting scenes, but they set the character and location for us.

“Even if it seems weird, the small little segments, maybe only two seconds, really help create the storyline, while having it on a helmet for five minutes doesn’t do nearly as much,” says Mulkey. ”I tried to think out a storyline in my mind. How will I plan my day, what will I do, what do I want to accomplish in my video and then plan each of those segments. It requires a lot more work than just going out and climbing for the day.”

When you’re planning your film, answer each of Carroll’s questions on a sheet of paper:

  • How will you introduce the characters?
  • How will you introduce the conflict/challenge?
  • How will it be achieved?
  • What camera angles will you use?


None of these scenes need to be complex. A simple, “My name is, and I’m going to ride that.” is plenty. Introducing the characters can be as simple as a few snatches of conversation as you pack up your gear or get ready. But that little bit makes a world of difference in differentiating your film from the mass of helmet-cam footage already clogging up YouTube.

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