Soulcraft Allstars: Part One: The beginning
It’s not advisable to hike to Haiti through the mountains of the Dominican Republic. But here we are, carrying heavy camera equipment, and hoping to avoid trouble. We are heading to Boukan Chat, where a small village of farmers lives alongside a bird on the brink of extinction, the Diablotin. We’ve collected young field biologists to play in a soccer match against the village team. Eventually, this friendly match will become the annual Diablotin Festival, with a parade, film festival and presentations in schools, all celebrating the way the community has restored the watershed, reforested, improved farming practices—and protected a critically endangered species.—Aaron Straight, Soulcraft Allstars
Aaron Straight is a storyteller. No matter how you’re talking to him, be it in person, on the phone, via email, stories spill out of him, rich with detail and rife with passion. It’s fitting, then, that he’s devoted his professional life to storytelling, founding Soulcraft Allstars to help businesses, organizations and other entities to distill their own stories and connect them with the audiences who need to hear them.
“Soulcraft is a storytelling agency,” Aaron says. “While we are best known as filmmakers, our main objective is to solve people’s and organizations’ communication or marketing challenges through all forms of storytelling; whatever best reaches and impacts their intended audience. We’ve created Airstream road trips across the U.S.—filmed and photographed daily—to create a nearly real-time storytelling campaign on Instagram. We’ve taken over organizations’ websites, annual reports, events and social media, turning all of these into authentic storytelling portals.”
It makes sense that an outside-the-box agency would have an unorthodox origin story, and so it goes with Soulcraft. After spending several years as the creative director of an agency in Seattle, Aaron realized that his creativity and sense of purpose weren’t being served where he was. A radical shift was necessary.
So Aaron left the big agency in the big city, went off-grid in Hawaii and spent a couple of weeks scribbling in a notebook that he still refers to as his “bible.” When he emerged from his vision quest, the seeds that would become Soulcraft were planted. He just needed the right place for them to take root.
Enter: Bellingham. It was where Aaron and his family were living, and locating Soulcraft in a place that fed his soul was a no-brainer. All that remained was to assemble a crew of likeminded true believers. They are the Allstars of the Soulcraft Allstars equation, and with them, Aaron has been able to realize his goal of creating the “360-degree storytelling campaigns” for which Soulcraft has become known.
Before they ever pick up a camera or belly up to a computer, the Allstars do a deep dive into a potential project. “It is so hard to see your own story clearly,” Aaron says. “We can help. We do a lot of listening in the beginning and then we develop a clear strategy for their success using the power of storytelling. Most of our clients are longtime collaborators and often describe their experience working with us as a transformative adventure. We look at the problem and what you want to achieve and we think openly about the most powerful ways to reach your audience and move them to inspiration and action.
“Storytelling: This is our Soulcraft.”
In part two we’ll explore Soulcraft’s plans for the future, how they mix storytelling with making a positive impact on their world, and that time they helped the Seattle Foundation raise $20 million in a single day.