Elevating Narratives: A Journey Through Filmmaking with Jay Worsley

Discover Jay Worsley's inspiring filmmaking journey as he discusses his passion for storytelling and how he utilizes Musicbed to elevate the emotional impact of his work.

Filmmaker Jay Worsley

When he’s not traveling the world creating stunning content for brands like Amazon, LG, and PetSmart, Jay Worsley is running Sonder Storytelling where he is both the founder and the lead creative and filmmaker. Read the Phoenix-based director’s interview below to learn more about what sparked his interest in filmmaking, his filmmaking group Sonder Storytelling, and how he utilizes Musicbed to find the right music for his films.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Jay Worsley: As a child, I had a lot of alone time. I didn’t have a ton of friends, got picked on (I was tiny), and to be honest… was a very sensitive emotional kid. However, that sensitivity and time of getting in tune with my emotions ignited my imagination. I became obsessed with creating stories. With all that alone time, I would spend it playing out stories with my dog in the backyard, LEGOs in my room, and even using the family camera to make little camcorder videos. That became an important way for me to let out some of those feelings and emotions. That carried through into high school, college, church, and today. Filmmaking and storytelling is a way I can get all these beautifully chaotic feelings and thoughts in my head out and into the world.

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired? 

I am always searching for beauty, meaning, and purpose. It’s easy to find. It can be found in hearing the life story of a character from a brand film or commercial or even can be found in the way the light hits a leaf gracefully moving in the wind. It blows my mind how much beauty, meaning, and purpose there is in this world. All right there in front of us. When I find it, the feeling of fulfillment I get from it is addicting. When I find myself starting to get in a creative rut, I have to remind myself that even in the mundane, beauty can live. Even in the stress, the purpose can exist.

What makes a story visually appealing? What role does music play in storytelling? 

There are so many predictable and “industry standard” things that could be said here. The lighting, camera movement, editing, color, and so much more. For me, this comes back to that emotional feeling. When I am filming, directing, or writing I have to feel something. It has to spark some sort of emotional feeling inside of me. Whether that’s a feeling of wonderment, reflection, sadness, joy, or really just any sort of feeling that makes you pause and feel it. That can be felt through those things like lighting, camera movement, editing, color, and more. But if the light is amazing but lacks feeling, time to start over. If the color is clean and looks good but there is nothing that makes me curious or intrigued or gives me some sort of emotional feeling… I’m out. When you bring music in, it enhances that feeling. Music in my films is almost like the cheerleader for emotion. It brings the audience in even more, guiding them with that feeling. It almost gives the viewer permission to let go a little bit more and let the story grab hold of them. What’s great about music is it also unearths these emotions that you may not have even seen were there all along. Taking a shot you originally thought was mundane or uninspiring and turning into something beautiful simply with the right music.

What elements do you think are essential for crafting a compelling story? 

I’m always seeking ways for the audience to place themselves into one of the characters. To find a way they can relate to them. Not just understand them, but say to themselves, “YES! I’ve been there” or “I’ve felt that too.” Giving the audience the opportunity to express themselves with self-reflection simply by watching a film. I also feel every compelling story needs conflict. Conflict sets the character off on a journey towards resolution. That conflict can challenge their beliefs, force them to make hard choices, sacrifice things they love, do something courageous, do something adventurous. That conflict leads to action.

How important is music in your work? 

It is essential to what I do. Music can spark an idea for an entire story just by hearing a certain melody or score. Music is so powerful in allowing a person to feel something. It always amazes me how a song can instantly transport you. As I stated above, music can be that cheerleader for the emotion you are trying to convey. It can also be the leading force to get the viewer to feel that way.

What advice would you give other filmmakers/creators who are just starting their careers? 

Just go and do it. It’s easy to get lost in the noise of all the content out there. Sometimes that noise can discourage us from even creating at all. The only way to move forward is by taking one step. Just like any run, hike, or walk that gets us to the long-awaited point we were dreaming of, it all started with a step forward… then another… and another creating a beautiful journey of growth.

Jay Worsley on set with crew and client

How do you balance pushing boundaries creatively and delivering what your client wants or audience wants to see? 

From an audience side of things, I’ve learned to create really for me and not for others. When I create for what I think an audience wants, I start to drift away from who I am as an artist and just make something that isn’t me. On the commercial side of things, clients tend to not really fully know what they want. I always start with this question, “What do you want the viewer to feel after they’ve watched your film?” This leads them to understand that for a call to action, or more product sales, or whatever it may be, needs to have that emotional element. Once they see that the audience needs to feel something, they really start to trust you and your creative ideas. Communicating as much as possible on why this “feeling” is important and why it will lead to the results they want will only continue to build that trust with them.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative? 

Self-doubt can creep in so fast. Thinking “I’m not good enough”, “Those filmmakers are better”, and so on. That self-doubt can paralyze the creative process. It is something I can struggle with but I do what I can to shut it out.

Jay Worsley filming with cast in gymnasium with balloons

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

I just finished my first feature-length film. I spent a couple of years writing it alongside some other scripts and went out to Chicago to film it. It was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever done. Seeing this tiny idea I had turned into a large production and into an actual movie that the cast and crew all stood behind and believed in was a feeling I’ll never forget. Bringing in the right people and creating a beautiful team of creatives to make this happen is a memory I’ll always cherish and talk about.

How do you search for music on Musicbed? What are some tips that you’d give other filmmakers to search on Musicbed? 

I’m a bit all over the place with how I search for music. I have found that if my search process is the same each time, I always end up using the same artists or the same types of songs. I love trying new ways to search. I might start by looking through one of the curated playlists, or selecting a mood and letting myself listen to artists I’ve never heard of. I will say I ALWAYS look at the waveforms before hitting play. Looking at the waveforms tells me so much about the song with just a glance. I can tell if the song is going to take me on a journey or be pretty flat just by looking at the waveforms.

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work? 

I’ve used Musicbed since I started filming professionally. I’ve definitely tried other sites and platforms but nothing compares. I’m not looking for something that just works—I’m looking for something that makes the audience feel something. I know I can achieve that with Musicbed.

Explore a curated playlist of Jay’s go-to music to use in his projects—all ready to license only on Musicbed.