In You Are a Storyteller, Belief founder and executive creative director, Jesse Bryan, and chief storyteller, Brian McDonald, discuss the elements that make for a good story. Listen as they analyze classic films, talk through the nuance of structure, stress the importance of the armature, and cover things like outer boundaries and the dark night of the soul.
Masters of the Craft: Steve Higgins on Staying True to Your Voice
In this episode of “Masters of the Craft,” author and screenwriter Brian McDonald is joined by writer, producer, actor, and comedian Steve Higgins, announcer on “The Tonight Show” and a writer and producer for “Saturday Night Live.” Steve shares his journey to becoming one of the most recognized voices in comedy—and unpacks how being true to yourself is the key to real success.
Simplicity Leads To Better Storytelling
In this episode, Brian and Jesse discuss why efficient storytelling—and believing that complicated isn’t better simply because it’s complicated—is the most effective way to communicate. Oftentimes as storytellers, we can go looking for simple solutions we’ve already found—and get in our own way in the process.
Masters of the Craft: G. Willow Wilson on Making Room in the Comics Industry
In this episode of “Masters of the Craft,” Brian is joined by award-winning comics writer and novelist G. Willow Wilson, author of “Cairo,” “Alif the Unseen,” and “Ms. Marvel.” G. Willow shares the path that led her to her fruitful career—starting with teaching English in Egypt and, most recently, writing a novel about watchmaking—and why she delights in the notion that writing stories is similar to solving a mathematical equation.
Masters of the Craft: Glen Keane on the Value of Childlike Discovery
In this episode of “Masters of the Craft,” author and screenwriter Brian McDonald is joined by animator and director Glen Keane, best known for his work on Disney classics like “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “Pocahontas.” Glen shares how he “taps into childhood discovery” to properly create his characters—and why he believes mentorship is foundational to animation.
Why Experienced Storytellers Tell Stories That Serve Others
In this episode, Brian and Jesse discuss what sets a professional apart from an amateur. While amateurs create trendy work to boost their own ego, professionals make objectively good work that serves something bigger than themselves—and can stand the test of time.
Masters of the Craft: Kira Lehtomaki on Using Fear to Tell Better Stories
In this episode of “Masters of the Craft,” Brian is joined by Kira Lehtomaki, animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios and the animation supervisor behind Judy Hopps, the beloved protagonist in the 2016 film “Zootopia.” In this episode, Kira shares why fear and constraints drive her to do her best work—and why sometimes less is more in telling great stories.
This podcast has changed my life.
There’s really no other way to describe what this podcast has done for the way I view mastery and, truthfully, life as a whole.
I had heard of Brian McDonald before, but as an adhd kid who was always pushed away from pursuing any sort of creative field, the “storytelling industry” had been a complete mystery to me. Yet all I wanted as a kid was to devour and create stories. I remember getting whooped as a kid for reading when I was supposed to be sleeping, and being sent to the principals office when I was drawing instead of paying attention in class. I didn’t know it back then, but I was a budding storyteller. And then I entered a period which I refer to as my “creative castration.” For about 15 years I would consistently have the creativity beat out of me until I couldn’t even remember what it was like to pick up a book for fun.
Yet, story and creativity took hold in other places in my life, like my love for intentional and meaningful experiences with others. When the covid pandemic happened, something interesting happened to me: the “beatings” stopped. The rush to be here and there, the expectation of productivity, it all stopped. And my creativity stood up. I slowly started finding my way back, forming new creative habits, connecting with others who inspired me to create. I began writing every day as if moved by an unseen hand: my creativity was in the drivers seat now.
One day an idea sprung out of me, one I believed and still believe will change the narratives encasing creativity, forever. As I started building on this idea, people started aligning themselves with me on mission alone, a team who believe in the same vision. One of them recommended a podcast to me called “Creative Pep Talk.” And it was there that I stumbled upon Brian and Jesse.
From the very first episode about armature, I was hooked. It was like a gate had opened up in my mind, and all of the “pieces” I had held together for so long finally had the glue. I was a natural born storyteller. And as I took on this new identity, everything felt simpler and made sense.
Brian. Jesse. If you read this, I just want to say thank you. I know multitudes of people have helped you along your way, but I also know you’ve done work that most others aren’t willing to do. I’m a bit late to the game at 29 years old, but I’m early, too. I understand that people are what matter, nothing else. And so I want to build something for makers and doers everywhere like us, a place where we can tell the stories that matter, and feed value into our communities at the same time. I want people to never have to go through what I did, to never have that feeling of thinking their creativity is burden but rather the greatest gift. And I want them to have the life-changing experience I’ve had listening to you and all the greats you’ve invited on this podcast. Haha.. I’m sure everyone around me is tired of hearing me talk about the importance of storytelling now. It’s literally all I can think about now. But part of me also thinks it’s the thing they’ve been waiting for that they never knew they needed. I know it was for me. Thank you.
If you communicate, you need to hear this
Bryan, Jesse, and guests drop mind-blowing storytelling wisdom and knowledge in every episode. Each time, you’ll learn another useful tool in making your films, novels, pitches, and oral dialogue clearer and more effective.
Masterclasses in storytelling
Every episode is like getting a free masterclass in storytelling! Brian McDonald is a generous, funny, and astute speaker, teacher, and interviewer. Every episode is a gem. Sometimes it helps to listen once just for enjoyment and then a second time for taking notes. I recommend this podcast to every writer (no matter what genre and what kind of writing) I know!