S3E10: Sarah Hill, StoryUp Virtual Reality Storyteller (#39)

Storytelling with Virtual and Augmented Reality Video Creator Sarah Hill

Meet Sarah Hill, founder of StoryUp. StoryUp is a tribe of storytellers, psychologists, developers, filmmakers, audio engineers and technologists.

They began in 2015, trying to find a solution for terminally-ill WWII Veterans who were not able to physically travel to see their memorials in Washington, DC. These men and women could not physically go on what’s called an Honor Flight. So, Sarah and the team started Honor Everywhere. These veterans experience an immersive event where they get to “go” to the WWII memorial in DC. It’s incredible.

Now StoryUp’s virtual reality experiences reach much further… which you’ll hear about during our conversation. Sarah believes that storytellers - even when they don't carry the official title - have power.

"A lot of people who are CEOs of their own company are storytellers... although they might not realize it or hold that title. To me, all founders and CEOs of companies are the Chief Storyteller. You're not just selling you product. You're selling your story." -Sarah Hill on storytelling in business


Being a storyteller oftentimes involves collaboration. Creating a story does not fall only to the writer. When Sarah and her team create stories, they think of it like a table. You wouldn't build a table with one leg. In story, each leg is a stakeholder in the story. 

Story stakeholders creating the experiences for StoryUp include the writer/creator, production, technologists (like a game engine designer), algorithm writers and researchers.

"I see [storytelling] as a table. If you have one leg that's shorter than the other, it's out of balance. Storytellers are no longer singular entities working in silence with just writing. It's a collaboration." - Sarah Hill on collaborative storytelling

Using Story to Create Alternatives to Drugs

In her work with veterans and Honor Everywhere, Sarah discovered that taking these men and women to Washington, D.C. virtually would affect them physiologically and emotionally. Subversive storytelling changed the lives of these people. 

Further research opened up new doors for Sarah and StoryUp. Therapy through story is working to help ease post traumatic stress. The change we go through when inside of a story with new technology has implications for our mental health, possibly even curbing reliance on prescription drugs.

"Story has the power to be almost therapeutic to people. Through that story, after they take off the goggles, virtual reality stories create unique memories in the brain that can be recalled in a stressful situation." - Sarah on the power of story and healing

Connect with Sarah and her resources:

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