Amir Bar-Lev, Long Strange Trip director, on passion in storytelling

What’s the Story? is a storytelling video series dedicated to learning what truly makes a great story, told through the lens of the world’s talent and practitioners of the craft in entertainment, marketing and beyond.

Should the opportunity to spend time with Amir Bar-Lev, director of the (deservedly) well-received Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip, arise, one should absolutely jump at the opportunity.

The Berkeley, California native is incredibly insightful, interesting and decidedly passionate about storytelling. The self-described Deadhead fell in love with the band in his teen years — and his film offers in-depth, yet accessible perspective on what the band’s music means, not just to fans, but to individuals as well.

As it relates to the craft of storytelling, Bar-Lev believes that moral dimension is critical. Sure, there can be ambiguity, but not having a point of view can dilute a story’s power.

When discussing the best story he’s ever heard, it’s no surprise that the sails point to the Grateful Dead — but it’s not in a way that one would expect. 'Brokedown Palace,' one of The Dead’s greatest songs, is a story that Bar-Lev mentions as one that speaks to individuals in a profound way.

The greatest story he’s ever told? That’s easy, and it’s one that is incredibly close to his heart but, as a storyteller, is most compelling. Long Strange Trip is what he refers to as his “white whale” and it is not only an incredible film, but the one that Bar-Lev dreamed of making — and resulted in a most beautiful story, unbelievably well-told.

What's the Story? is sponsored by Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), the first global network for branded product integration in the entertainment industry, across all media, including the influencer space.

Filmed at SXSW

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Doug Zanger

Doug Zanger is the Americas editor for The Drum. He leads the Americas editorial team’s content activity in the growing region. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is committed to sharing the most meaningful stories that benefit the global industry and its people. A Minnesota native, Zanger has covered a wide range of brands, issues and personalities, including Aloe Blacc, Seu Jorge, Wendy Clark, Susan Credle, Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby and more. Fiercely dedicated to diversity, equality and talent, he has interviewed several women in leadership roles through his Exceptional Women of the World podcast.

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