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The three principles that are at the foundation of StoryFirst are simple …

Stories are everything.

Connecting through stories defines us as human. For a brand to succeed it requires telling compelling stories that embody their brand. It requires putting story first.

Collaboration is a requirement for great work.

The digital revolution has distributed knowledge and enabled new models of working and learning together. What a wonderful thing for telling great stories.

People create success.

This quote from Helen Keller so simply brings it all together, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  Working with passionate and collaborative-minded people is what makes telling successful brand stories possible.

Our talented collective of storytellers understand how to respect and engage an audience. Their expertise is as marketers, filmmakers, journalists, animators, writers, artists, new media pros and others with real experience as storytellers.  Their rich history of work experience, both past and current, includes local, regional, and national brands such as …

Above, Left to Right: Last Day at Lambeau” (2012), feature documentary produced by StoryFirst Media; StoryFirst Media collaborator Michael Nie on set with Leonardo DiCaprio filming “Shutter Island”; StoryFirst Media collaborators Michael Neelsen and Brian Alberth listen to Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris.

Our creative collaborators come from the world of dramatic and documentary cinema. Partner and director Michael Neelsen began his production career on the Universal Pictures back lot in Hollywood, where he first worked with director of photography Michael Nie on a short 16mm dramatic film called “The Last Hour”.

“The Last Hour” was very much a student film with poor writing, though it had good production value. Neelsen submitted the 20-minute short to a competition the following fall and lost … to himself. His winning short was “He Just Wanted Some Eggs”, an improv comedy project with rough, handheld aesthetics shot on digital videotape. At that moment, Neelsen learned a lesson he will carry with him forever:

The story is first. If you don’t have that, it doesn’t matter how strong your production values are – your audience will not respond the way you want.


  • Shutter Island
  • The Kingdom
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Wisconsin Rising
  • Milwaukee, Minnesota
  • Battleground (TV Series)
  • and more…