Just HOURS to Be Blown Away + MUSE Excerpt: Process for Better Storytelling

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

(planetMitch note… yes, we’ve had a lot of coverage and even popups about MUSE, but Hugh was so excited after watching the first bits of his MUSE training that he desperately wanted to get this update out just in case you wanted to get in before the deadline).

I was chatting with a fellow filmmaker on Facebook this morning and he asked me about MUSE.

“Do you really think it’s any good?”

Oh, baby.

You know the old saw “those who can’t do teach?” Well, the folks at @stillmotion have blown that particular truism out of the water in spectacular fashion with their just-released, patent-pending storytelling process.

I know this because this afternoon – on a leisurely Sunday — I got online, logged in, started up MUSE for the first time – and had my socks knocked off.

OK, I wasn’t actually wearing any socks at the time, but you get my drift.

From their own video introduction to their elegantly laid out “four pillars of storytelling” and the first quiz; to case studies of stellar films like “STILL ALICE” (about early on-set Alzheimer’s starring Julianne Moore), YouTube phenomenon “Heartwarming Thai Commercial that Will Make You Cry” and Stillmotion’s own “FINAL STITCH“; even the on-camera delivery by Patrick, Amina and Joyce — the team puts on a bravura performance of passion, filmmaking, curating, and teaching that they’ve somehow managed to bottle in a way that goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen ANYWHERE.

And I’ve been to a couple of pretty decent schools and paid much more money for some pretty decent online screenwriting courses.

As we post this update to our original story, there is just this much time left to get in on pilot pricing:

(click the timer if it is not at 00:00:00!)

Fact of the matter is, $497 can get you a Metabones adapter, the new Sony 28mm f/2.0 lens (which does look pretty great), or some other piece of cool gear you’ve been eyeing. And, yes, we absolutely do get a small commission if you choose to use our link.

But I am writing from the heart when I tell you that I think there is NO piece of gear that’s going to up your game like this course, and no course I’ve taken which I think will match what I’ll get out of MUSE. Period.

Full money back guarantee

And if you're still on the fence and you're concerned…

Full refund guarantee!

Full refund guarantee!

Excerpts from MUSE marketing

Excerpt from Step 2 of MUSE

Special excerpt from Patrick Moreau

we've been chatting with Patrick about MUSE and he's also sent along this interview…

Why Place is universally important.

As filmmakers we work in a medium that relies heavily on visuals. And as filmmakers, we have such an incredible opportunity to show, rather than tell. We can craft stories that let the viewer be a witness rather than simply telling you how to feel or what to do. But to truly use story and let the viewer become a witness, we need to become a master of the 4 Layers of Place.

Now it’s easy to think of Place as simply geography. But within MUSE we talk about the 4 Layers of Place and how you can use those as a tool to develop powerful ways to let your story show, rather than tell. And this is just as relevant for a narrative filmmaker as it is an event one. Creativity is borne out of constraint and you can use the MUSE framework to help you go much deeper with your story.

Let’s say we were telling a story of a quadriplegic pilot and we wanted you to see how hard it is for him to do simple things as a way of increasing the payoff when we later see him take flight. Well the documentary filmmaker could simply interview Dave and ask him about how long it takes him to go to bed at night, the hours it takes hime to put his closes on, and we as the audience could hear just how tough it is. But when we apply the 4 Layers of Place, when we look at environments, objects, situation, and time, and consider where we can show, rather than tell, a new world of possibilities springs up.

A wide shot of Dave’s room with all of his devices, all of the extra structures needed for him to go to bed, all in such a tight space, which certainly communicate his unique struggle. A tight shot of the hook he developed to hold his wheel chair in place so he doesn’t tumble helplessly onto the floor would be an object that too would communicate so much. Or seeing Dave actually trying to get into bed, a long hand-held shot that makes the viewer want to help, and lets us feel his struggle, would be a great situation to show this struggle. Or we could get up at 4:30am and be with Dave as he spends 3 hours preparing for the day just to make it to the air strip for sunrise—an excellent use of time to show his struggle.

Now, of course these layers overlaps. Dave could get out of bed at 4:30am and we are now focusing on the situation and the time. In reality, everything we choose to write or shoot will contain all 4 Layers of Place, but the key for us as storytellers is to what is relevant at every moment. Think the Hitchcock Effect, but it’s so so much more than how much screen space any one thing takes, it’s knowing what has a deeper meaning, what is a symbol, at every point of our story.

Really understanding place and using the 4 Layers of Place within the MUSE framework will help you discover deeper ways to show what it is you are trying to communicate, to let the viewer be a witness, and that is powerful regardless what type of genre you’re in.

How the Thai ad communicates the whole process.

In 2014 I had the opportunity to speak at the United Nations to a group of global business leaders. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I very carefully considered how I would spend my seven minutes and thirty seconds up there.

What I shared was one simple idea, the philosophy on which MUSE is built, speak to the heart to move the mind. That we need to engage people emotionally if we wish to change their perspective or their behavior. And that is what story is especially capable of doing.

We can connect you to a strong character, make you fall in love with them, and then as they encounter conflict and set off on a journey to overcome, we’re along for the ride much less because of the destination, and much more because we want to resolve whether the character we care about gets what they’re after. And that journey can then illuminate and bring us to what we want the viewer to know or see. It can bring us to that perspective shift.

To look at it another way, last year we did a feature length documentary on a 9-year-old using lemonade to try and fight modern day slavery. Had we lead with purpose and simply told you how to feel and what to do, I’m sure you can imagine how quickly most people would turn off. Heck I could start sharing slavery statistics right now and you’d click away rather quickly. So instead we introduce you to Vivienne, a magical youngster who came up against an image that shook her. She didn’t quite understand slavery but she had the audacity to think that she could actually do something about it. She set this crazy goal of freeing 500 children and wanted to setup her lemonade stand to try and do it.

Now, see what we’re doing there. Connect you to a character, show you their desire, they run into conflict and that sets them on a journey. The journey then brings us to the issue, it lets us be a witness and come to our own conclusions. You better bet that as you follow Vivienne on her journey to free 500 kids we’ll show you the who, what, when, where, and why of slavery.

That’s what we mean by speaking to the heart to move the mind. And this Thai ad is a beautiful example of a piece that went viral, got a gazillion views over the internet, by using story, connecting us emotionally, taking us on a journey, and bringing us to their purpose. Check it out, be moved, then ask yourself – how many of those gazillion people would have watched and shared this piece had they led with purpose and just told us how to feel?

That’s the power of story. And MUSE is the framework to help you build an emotionally gripping one, construct the journey, and bring the viewer to your purpose.

And for the record, here’s a tally of everything you’ll find inside the course right now;
  • 9 well-designed and witty tutorials that are between 15-22 minutes each
  • 8 quizzes that are both smart and fun
  • 10 recaps PDFS
  • 14 Case Studies (feature films, commercials, documentary work, and 1 wedding)
  • *Another 6 case studies added within the next two weeks, all free to those in the Pilot Program

While we are talking about the idea of speak to the heart to move the mind, let’s explore Project: One Girl Uganda.


So here’s the thing. There are some countries in Africa that are considered the WORST places in the world to be born a girl. In Sierra Leone for example, your chances of being sexually abused are higher than your chances of getting post-secondary education.

One Girl is an Australian non-profit thats working to educate girls across Africa. Because when you educate a girl, you can change her community.

One Girl has taken their yearly video budget and asked Stillmotion to head to Uganda and tell a story to help get the world involved. Myself, Patrick, Joyce, and Goose are all headed there for five days.

And we could use your help too. With the launch of MUSE, a tool that is all about developing your thinking, we LOVE the idea that we can all teach by learning.


This isn’t a workshop. No seats will be sold. There are no sponsors. All we have is a real issue and a group of filmmakers who will give 5 days of their time to do all they can to help. We’ll tell a story and offer what only story can do-we’ll speak to the heart to move the mind.

Because let’s face it, if we talk about West Africa and the education of girls, not a whole lot of you are going to keep reading, sharing, or pull out your credit cards and make donations now. But, if we tell a story, if we lead with people, if we take you on a journey, and if we can bring you to why this is so important, well then we have a real shot at change.


Try it? You'll like it

Bottom line, at least give MUSE a look – you might find out you like it…

but if you wait until after the deadline, it will not be available again until the fall and it will cost a LOT more.

There's a money back guarantee as well (see above).


(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

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