Mcgarrybowen's US CCO Ned Crowley on storytelling structure and constraint

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.

Ned Crowley, US chief creative officer at Mcgarrybowen, believes in storytelling structure. Act one. Act two. Act three. Where it gets interesting is how he illustrates it. Using the analogy of a hero stuck in a tree in the first act, he believes that throwing as many rocks at that hero (the second act, and the more rocks the better) will inevitably lead to the denouement (the third act) of getting the hero down.

Even in the commercial world, Crowley believes that 30-seconds should still adhere to the three-acts, though compressed into miniature moments.

The best story Crowley has ever heard — and his favorite film, though he concedes it might not be history’s greatest — is Jaws. He has an interesting take on whether or not the film would be successful if made today. In his mind, the movie wouldn’t be nearly as compelling because, as he puts it, “He would have all the money in the world, and the reason that the movie is so great is that the shark was broken [and] it forced him to make a better film and make better choices.”

The greatest story Crowley has ever told is one that wrapped up earlier this year — the film Middle Man, funded via Kickstarter, which he wrote and directed. Starring Parks & Recreation’s Jim O’Heir, the movie is all about chasing one’s dreams, even in the face of adversity — and, without giving too much away, this story certainly has plenty of interesting twists and turns in that pursuit.

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 Cannes Lions

If you would like to pitch someone for “What’s the Story?“, please complete the linked form.

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.

All by Doug