What grips you when it comes to television, film, novels, and music? Is it the characters? The plot? Perhaps it’s different with each medium and project, but there are common themes among creators. Multiple directors of the Disney+ Launchpad series have shared what they believe to be the most important aspects of storytelling.
I feel like it's the authenticity and vulnerability within storytelling, and the more specific and detailed you can make the story, ironically, the more universal it becomes. And so for filmmakers to be able to fully dive in and put themselves in the story, or just be honest about it and let themselves be seen for everything, I think it's incredibly inspiring. And what that does is when people watch it, they feel empowered to do the same and be vulnerable and be okay with being exactly who they are.
The message of Ann Marie Pace’s Growing Fangs is to embrace one’s identity, celebrate uniqueness and see it as beautiful, which is on par with her sentiment that authenticity and vulnerability is the most important aspect of storytelling. She also mentions how stories become more universal with more details, which seems counterintuitive but when you think about a really specific experience like being the center of attention in school when wishing you could disappear, it makes total sense that a large group of people will be able to relate to that feeling.
Stefanie Abel Horowitz wrote and directed Let’s Be Tigers, a film that sheds light on how to cope with grief. Horowitz also spoke of creating something that lots of people are able to relate to. In her words:
I make things almost exclusively about feeling like you're in a community of remembering you're not alone. Talking about how we relate to one another, how we have relationships, and how do we start a relationship? How do we be in that relationship? I think it's because I'm the daughter of a therapist, I'm just really interested in it. But also I personally feel most alive when I'm inside of the community. I feel most connected. I feel most supported. I feel happiest when I feel like I have folks around me.
As Horowitz states, she feels most alive when inside of a community, and this is what we see depicted in her film. Let’s Be Tigers shows a woman who feels very alone, but when she spends an evening babysitting this little boy it awakens a light and energy inside her. Even if viewers have not experienced the specific relationship depicted on screen, they can relate to the emotions felt through their own relationships.
This thread of authenticity and relatability is continued by Aqsa Altaf, writer and director of American Eid, which follows young Ameena on her mission to get days off school to celebrate Eid after moving to the United States. Altaf takes this a step further by inciting action. Here’s what she told CinemaBlend is the most important aspect of storytelling:
It starts with you, right? If Ameena did not create that petition, people wouldn't know about it in the first place. So I think it really starts with you. If you care, people will care for you. If you take it out there, people will want to support you. And I feel like even though the burden is on us to take it out there, it's also on us to bring it out there and through Ameena, the audience will care because she cares so much. We will care and we'll get invested in her journey, and when she doesn't get the holiday, we feel sad for her, but when the Eid celebration happens in the end, we feel so happy for it. And that's the power of storytelling.
That is exactly the power of storytelling: getting invested in the characters and wondering what can be done with what you’ve just seen, heard, felt, and learned. No matter what part of the story draws you in and hooks you, all of the Launchpad shorts are sure to leave a mark. Season 1 of Launchpad is now streaming on Disney+.