Running a business is tough stuff. Even for a ninja. Especially for a ninja.

We fall in love with our stories. With their impact. With all of the fun tools and the process. But then we often forget about those things that make us sustainable. Things like making a profit, running a business, and getting it out there.

And more than just making videos, it’s critical that we always take the time to learn, develop, and become a stronger storyteller.

Here are the tools we use to help us be better storytellers and business owners.


The Academy. The best and quickest way to become a true ninja filmmaker.

Here’s the thing, becoming a ninja filmmaker isn’t easy. And it doesn’t happen overnight.

Like with anything you want to excel at, it takes tons of practice.
Being strategic means taking a moment to listen to the environment, to where you’re shooting, then having a strong understanding of how the gear you’re using best operates, and how to make it work for you.

Being stealth means that you need to have a mastery of interpersonal skills. How to connect with people, conduct interviews, and be where you need to be without it affecting those your filming.

And staying a step ahead means that you have an incredible ability to understand story and its structure. So you can take what’s happening, and know just what you need and where it fits into what you’re trying to say.

The Academy of Storytellers brings together top filmmakers from all across the country to teach these concepts and ideas that help you become the most strategic, stealth, and step-ahead ninja filmmaker possible.

The Academy combines a host of video tutorials by these filmmakers, which touch on everything from sound design to how to make a storyboard to how to set up lighting for an interview, with interactive comments by the filmmakers themselves.

We at Stillmotion have contributed close to 30 of these video tutorials.

But more than tutorials, the Academy offers webinars, downloadable eBooks, cheat sheets, and special promo by amazing filmmaking retailers.

And it offers something relevant and new to every filmmaker, from beginner to advanced–and across different mediums as well–like doc filmmakers, narrative filmmakers, and wedding filmmakers, as well as photographers and other creatives look to transition into video.

Why we love it:

  • More than 50 video tutorials, with two new ones added each week
  • Taught by leading filmmakers in each industry
  • Monthly webinars that touch on a variety of topics
  • Private discussions with Academy filmmaking teachers and other students
  • Special discount on Story & Heart licensing footage and courses
  • Includes eBooks, cheat sheets, and other filmmaking-related resources

Take a look at this preview from our friends at Story & Heart:

Shane Hurlbut is a long time member of the Gear Ninja fold–in fact he’s got a black belt in cinematography. And with more than 20 feature films under this black belt you can bet he’s got a trick or two (or a few hundred) up his ninja sleeves. Luckily for us, Shane is putting his master Sensei Skills to work, offering his virtual mentorship with the brand new, Shane’s Inner Circle.

While hands down one of the most passionate filmmaking ninjas we know, we’re especially envious of Shane’s innovative lighting techniques. And we aren’t the only ones who appreciate his skills. He scored himself a nomination from the American Society of Cinematographers for his debut (yes, debut) film, becoming the youngest cinematographer to receive this credit.
And now Shane is bringing his own style of cinematic judo right into your own dojo, virtually. Every good ninja-in-training needs to exercise his or her power of strategy, stealth, and foresight–and Shane’s Inner Circle trains these brain skills vigorously:

  • Be strategic. Arm yourself with the knowledge and new techniques of a master cinematographer to have confidence on set.
  • Be stealth. Network within a private Facebook community to get your specific questions answered in real time.
  • Have foresight. Learn from Shane’s on-set challenges—before you ever experience it yourself—to be armed with in-depth camera and lens test results.

Reading the posts, listening to the podcasts and watching the videos is like being at Shane’s side as he describes his creative purpose and vision. Listen as he describes the bold choices he regularly makes, and watch as he details the risks he willingly takes in capturing the Director’s cinematic vision, as well as his personal vision. Shane’s Inner Circle offers something relevant and new to every filmmaker, from beginner to advanced, with insider secrets not available elsewhere.

Why we love it:

  • Invaluable advice on lighting and camera usage
  • Personal on-set commentaries
  • Interactive Q&A and monthly podcasts
  • In-depth camera and lens test results
  • Networking within a private Facebook community
  • Subscribers are taught the “why behind the how” and the importance of implementing cost effective, timesaving solutions
  • Includes camera and lighting diagrams, LUTs, educational videos, and more
  • Exclusive discounts


Get feedback from your team and share work with clients with a really beautiful and easy platform.

Every ninja filmmaker knows that a successful post-production mission is also a quick one. And to minimize that time between story delivery and story acceptance, ninjas should use every available tool in their tool kit.

One of our favorite post-production tools is Wipster. It allows the whole team to give feedback in a really precise, really helpful, and really quick way. Have cinematographers critique sharpness and color while writers provide feedback on story arcs. Comment the very second any issue arises, and more than comment—have conversations to work through whatever obstacle.

All comments are visible to all team members so communication is efficient, allowing for less confusion and contradictory suggestions. And Wipster allows you to stay one step ahead, rather than sorting through feedback, the comments are organized into a to-do list. Boom, already done—saving you that step.

Once your edits are done, upload the next version. Wipster keeps all previous versions organized for you—all easily accessible.
Wipster makes the feedback process more streamlined, making it less about the process—and more about the feedback so you have a stronger story, sooner.

Why we love it:

  • Affordable. Different plan rates for different needs. And if you use the link above you can get a free trial.
  • Intuitive. Really intuitive design makes it a really easy platform to use–especially for clients.
  • Precise. Leave notes on specific parts of frames to allow for even clearer feedback.
  • Convenient. Attach an image of a screen grab from another angle (or anything other image) to accompany a comment.
  • Engaged. Get emails every time someone leaves feedback so you can start working right away.

About Patrick Moreau

I love stories that challenge the way we see things.

Leave a Reply