Ed Saxon: The Power of Story

Ed Saxon Conversations Image

Academy Award-winning producer Ed Saxon has been producing feature films for over 25 years. Best-known for The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Mandela, and Enlightened, Ed has used the power of storytelling to capture audiences’ attention around the globe. His films have earned 21 Academy Award nominations and eight Oscar wins, grossing a total of over $700m at the box office worldwide.

At Conversations, Ed shared why he believes stories are the key to success in any industry. Our brains are hardwired for stories, Ed explained. We know our religious, moral, and historical backgrounds all by narratives. We remember and understand information better through stories, because stories give us a detailed, emotion-filled context. Make people feel something, Saxon says, and they’ll remember your story—an idea that is more important than ever in today’s screen-competitive digital age. So how do you make a story worth listening to? It’s all in the details. Movie making and design are very similar, Ed explained, in that the key to creating emotion is about getting the details right. If you take the time to understand your audience and consciously craft the details, you can forge a real connection between the product and the user (or the movie and the audience).

Citing the evolution of virtual reality and digital animation, Ed also discussed how emerging technologies will shape a new future for film, entertainment, and design. As technology continues to progress, humans won’t be responsible for the 1s and 0s of computing and creation anymore, Ed predicts. We’ll be responsible for the “mushier stuff”—we’ll need to craft the story around the product rather than crafting the product itself.