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The Art of Storytelling - Bud Greenspan

With the news today of the Calgary bid for the Winter Olympics 2016 moving one step forwarded, I thought I would highlight one of the best storytellers - Bud Greenspan in todays blog post.

I am a true lover of the Olympic Games and what is stands for in sport, so I tried to reflected back to understand why I am so intimately involved and committed to the games. Why do I watch hours and hours of broadcast day after day? It came to me that it is the personal stories that are displayed and told on our broadcast mediums and networks. Touch stone memoirs and stories that connect the unique experiences of the games to our heart strings. One individual came to mind immediately, one of the best documentary filmmakers of all times who captured the Olympic story in dramatic fashion was Bud Greenspan who unfortunately passed away at the age of 84 in late 2010.

Bud was a storyteller pioneer that understood how to capture an audience attention in a dramatic and meaningful way. David Wallechinsky, editor at the Huffington Post wrote, “Bud Greenspan covered the Olympic Games as a writer, radio broadcaster and filmmaker for more than six decades. His trademark was telling the intimate and often little-known story that is universally understood and appreciated. In the words of IOC President Jacques Rogge, Greenspan is “a master in the art of telling the story of the Olympic Games.” Bud Greenspan, was a consummate story teller. Like Homer’s epic poem, the Illiad & the Odyssey

What can we learn from Bud about the Art of Storytelling?

Bud captured the essence of the human spirit and perseverance in the various films he directed and produced. All his numerous Olympic stories spanned many decades including my favourite, the 1976 Emmy Award-winning “Olympiad” series. This documentary as well as “16 Days of Glory” and many more delivered on a human emotional level that captured our attention. The first element achieved was through a filmmaker’s technique that captured the athlete’s moment in time from a personal perspective. He shot the documentary like “a fly on the wall”, watching and capturing the moment in time in from a voyeuristic manner. This consisted of a combination of very tight close ups and shots that made you feel you were with the athlete during his/her struggle. Getting up close and personal in a way so the subject didn’t know the camera was present.

He also utilized the renowned announcer with that dry deep monotone iconic voice, his brother David Greenspan. David’s dry monotone monologue creates a sense of dramatic suspense, this added an extra element to draw you in at an emotional level. His voice style, tone and manner are what created the tension in the documentary combined with the up close and personal shots of the athletes.

So remember iconic story teller Bud Greenspan the next time you need to make an impression in front of a room of people. Use a documentary style visually with all the presentation photos and elements and connect and create suspense with your voice and delivery. This will connect you to the heart strings and draw the audience in so you have a memorable experience and story. Bud leaves us with many inspirational and motivating stories – stories that had a big impact in my life because it allowed me to dream to be an Olympian.

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