422/129

Outline view in my writing software

I search for the line of the film from amidst a mountain of impressions, annotations and intuitive connections. To get there, each of the best moments receives a digital “3×5 card” with a title, impressions, tags for scene type, songs and characters, and a summary transcript or translation. With just the best material, I have 422 index cards—too much to parse. So I slice further to just the scenes that send shivers down my spine.

I must be easily impressionable because after the latest cull I still have 129 “so great it has to be in the movie!” scenes…

Why Text Becomes Literature

Words can be so rewarding – text becoming literature – I think precisely because they form such a narrow-bandwidth pathway to the brain.

A comment I made at a recent speaking gig (about video being the highest-bandwidth pathway to the brain) got me thinking about why literature is what it is.

Words can be so rewarding – text becoming literature – I think precisely because they form such a narrow-bandwidth pathway to the brain. The slow trickle of words forces a constraint on the brain that leads to rich associations and images. And when – in the case of Shakespeare and other great artists – the gentle architecture of their words begins to collect into a bigger whole, the reward is unspeakable, so beyond what seems possible from such a singular narrow trickle of text. This fragile lattice of words takes such genius to construct that I wonder that it’s possible at all.

Images are so much easier. Film is an embarrassment of images. The systems and symbols are so overly rich the mind has to filter out rather than strain to construct (as with text). Literature stretches the mind to build from the abstract; still images stretch the mind to explore, abstract and imagine more; while motion pictures stretch the mind to filter out the unnecessary and focus on what’s worth more of my attention.

Seth Godin in NYC

Filmed in New York in the fall of 2010, Seth Godin speaks on what it means for marketers to be the primary storytellers in an organization as part of a sneak preview for the 2010 Contagious Conference.

Marketers are not Advertisers – Seth Godin, 2010 Contagious Conference from Storyspark on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of filming Seth Godin in New York as part of a series of videos for the upcoming Contagious Conference. We had a great time during the interview, with Seth sharing lots of insight and new ideas about marketing, gift culture, and what it means to be a Linchpin. If you’d like to see the full interview… well, you’ll have to come to the conference for that :)

This is round two or three of a series of projects that have quietly launched my new venture, Storyspark. If you haven’t already, head over to the website to check out what it’s all about.

Vision in Motion eBook Released!

What does it take to create a visual story that moves people? Vision in Motion is an eBook written to answer that question. Using images from real-world productions, we talk some about the equipment, process & technique required to put your vision in motion.

I’ve been itching to tell everyone about this for months… and the day’s finally here! I’ve written an eBook for readers interested in stepping into the world of motion picture storytelling. The full title is Vision in Motion: A Photographer’s Introduction to Digital Video, and it’s available for $5 from Craft and Vision (Just $4 if you use the discount code MOTION4 before June 27th).

Though targeted at photographers, the eBook is for anyone who’s interested in the world of motion picture storytelling. With the explosion of video-capable stills cameras, many are considering dipping their toes into moving images. But while there are many resources out there on how to operate a video camera, what does it take to create a visual story that moves people? We talk some about gear, but mostly about process. What is story? How do you build a story? How do you connect images together to build towards a climax? What are the differences between composing a shot for a still image vs. motion?

It’s tough to pack all that into one eBook, but feedback so far has been positive. It’s gotten people excited to give video a try and get started with motion pictures storytelling. Go check it out!

VISION IN MOTION is a downloadable PDF. USD $5.00

Sartre on Story

You seem to start from the beginning… and, in reality, you have started at the end.

…everything changes when you tell about life… things happen one way and we tell about them in the opposite sense. You seem to start from the beginning: “It was a fine autumn evening in 1922. I was a notary’s clerk in Maromme.” And, in reality, you have started at the end…

The end is there, transforming everything. For us, the man is already the hero of the story… we feel that the hero has lived all the details of this night like annunciations, promises, or even that he lived only those that were promises, blind and deaf to all that did not herald adventure.

We forget that the future was not yet there; the man was walking in a night without forethought, a night which offered him a choice of dull, rich prizes, and he did not make his choice.

— Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

Wall•E – The Shot Tells the Story

It’s no secret that I’m a big Pixar fan. Their focus on “story first” has resulted in a long string of engaging hits and memorable characters.

© 2008 Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures.
© 2008 Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures.

I’m preparing for my next short film, and beginning the process of storyboarding. I ran across Karen J Lloyd, whose site is an excellent storyboarding resource. While the site’s focus is professional artists, she recently completed a series on Wall•E which I’m reading through now: The Shot Tells the Story. While Wall•E works on many levels, the shot selection is a big part of the storytelling in a movie with no dialogue (much like my next project).

Take a look if you’re interested to see how shots break down to tell the story of Wall•E.

Heart to the Storyteller

We guard our hearts with zeal, knowing their power to move us.

Our minds are relatively open, but we guard our hearts with zeal, knowing their power to move us. So although the mind may be part of [the] target, the heart is the bull’s-eye. To reach it, the [storyteller] must first display his own open heart.

— Peter Guber, The Four Truths of the Storyteller

But feelings are pesky critters, cropping up inconveniently, and then disappearing just when you want them. And the thing both terrible and wonderful about feelings is that they change… In fact the more you let yourself feel whatever you are actually feeling, the more available you are to a new feeling.

The director is in a position to do violence to [these] delicate emotional mechanisms.

— Judith Weston, Directing Actors