Imagine that meadow with all those music lovers, not holding cigarette lighters, but their smartphones, capturing the biggest cultural event of the era. But thankfully, fifty years ago, Michael Wadleigh, a 26-year-old medical school student who took a leave to make independent films about human rights and ecology, was asked to film what was planned as a small music festival at Woodstock. 

Wadleigh adds “It wasn’t really a straightforward festival. It was supposed to be about ecology. The organizers wanted to get people back to the garden, back to land.” 

“I wanted to do the film about music and politics. So we made a deal that I would get final cut,” he said. 

Wadleigh rounded up 100 of the best camera and sound people he could find, including the budding Martin Scorsese, and shot more film than was commonly shot for a single Hollywood movie. Because of all this footage, the film used innovative compositions of multiple imagery and split screens. With Wadleigh’s initial cut of a four-hour version, which then went down to three hours, 10 minutes, his team of editors, including Scorcese, Stan Warnow, Yeu-Ben Yee, Jere Huggins and T. Schoonmaker, used these new compositions in film storytelling that packed the screen, overwhelmed the senses, and painted a truer portrait of the excitement of the festival. SOURCE: REUTERS, IMDb


Evidenced by this lesser known but powerful performance of I’m Going Home by Alvin Lee and 10 Years After.

How 'Woodstock' movie shaped festival's place in counterculture

That same state of innovation is happening today with mobile storytelling that is vertical. To fill today’s pipeline of vertical storytelling, many directors and producers are re-purposing library content that is landscape and reinventing it with a vertical orientation, which allows a creative opportunity to recompose the screen with multiple shots, just like the Woodstock editors did so long ago. The result is the modern embrace of a new type of editing and storytelling.

Vertuoso Predicts Unprecedented Growth Opportunities For Vertical Storytelling in Mobile Entertainment

The evolution of the Vertical Screen has multiple roots of origin including comic books and movie posters but it is largely the undeniable user behavior of how people hold their smartphones in their hands and DON’T want to Go90. Many of the music videos shot today are vertical and that takes us back to music leading innovation, whether it was in 1969 or 2019. The new Woodstock Documentary, were it shot today, would have been captured vertically and likely distributed via mobile in a vertical orientation.


About Curt Doty

Curt Doty is the CEO and Executive Creative Director at Vertuoso. An early pioneer in vertical video, he is an award-winning Strategist, Storyteller and Creative, who brings leadership experience across the entertainment, marketing and branding worlds. Vertuoso’s innovative approach to vertical storytelling has led to engagements with Viacom, BET, CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, MSG and Energice. LinkedIn

Photo by Joel Lipton

Photo by Joel Lipton