Author Archives: danny alegi

Gamify a story or storify a game?

Gamify a story.

A story and a game have a lot in common. Dramatic story in the end gives you enduring satisfaction. At the end of a great movie, you are usually not craving to watch it again because solutions are reached gradually, thru effort and problem solving. Games, instead, want to be played over and over, as the conclusions reached after a shooter game, for example, do not definitively resolve outstanding personal and moral issues. Those conflicts will continue at the drop of the next virtual coin. A game is but a round of a epeatable, neverending process. A story, on the other hand, ends, and the ending resolves the matters exposed in the premise .

When game mechanisms are used to “gamify” a story experience, a different adrenaline -based process can kick in. Do you remember interactive books, when pages could be turned following active choices  made by readers? Have you been playing #Fortnite?  Tangible rewards make audience want more of the same, now. More rewards, more points, more bonuses, more freebies. Games can be played and played because the final solution is not the goal. The adrenaline fills the process of personal survival, of trying to win in order to play again.

I grew up playing and inventing games. I still collaborate with inventors and creatives on gasified storytelling and storified advertising.  As a pro story consultant, I often look inside a story from a gamified perspective. As I see it, play is a passepartout, a skeleton key that helps open the doors of conflict and dramatic development. 

In this post I list some of my favorite games and why they can inspire story design. These games simulate real life adventures. A football game, an escape, a war, a manhunt. Players take on roles and apply tactics and strategies.  What these games share is a narrative backbone, a story environment. Games happen over time, with beginnings middles and ends. What I love about my favorite childhood games ar the simple rule structures that left wide open space for stories to develop, for battles of ideas. No will for success?  Gravity will drag you down into the darkness of defeat.

Subbuteo – A simulation of soccer, where you are bohtthe coach, the technician (lots of choices there) and the players, making every shot and save one the pitch. Some call this game a blend of chess and pool.

Chess – a game where luck plays no part. A move is in plain sight for both players, and yet each move embodies layers of intention and plans for later synergies. The more turns you can see in advance, the better you play. Chess is an extremely violent game, where softness on your opponent is I rewarded with remorse and embarassment.

I love Escape games. In particular : SURVIVE, ESCAPE FROM COLDITZ and SCOTLAND YARD.

Survive is an apocalyptic game where players escape an island blown up by climate-disasters: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, extreme weather. By using found rowboats or swimming across water dragons and shark-infested waters. Any game of survival, mixes chance and choice to get out alive.

Escape from Colditz is designed by real life British POWs held by Nazis in the castle of East German castle of Colditz. The object of the game is to escape to freedom by planning decoys, bribes, fake papers, clothes and travel plans. The game has splotchy rules, which players can fine tune by accord. One player plays the Nazis, all the others team up to make a run for it. embodies the main reason Great real life historical  storyrtelling is key to the game

SCOTLAND YARD is a manhunt Ravesnsurger game with classic efficiency sand simplicity. One character, known as  X), is on the run in London Town with 5 cops in pursuit. When time runs out the cops or the solo bandit wins.

Two other classics claimed my kid rainy afternoons: RISK and MONOPOLY. The gasified themes of economic domination and world supremacy are here  developed in painstakingly slow gameplay, with a mix of dice-luck and strategy. Lack of empathy helps winners, in both games.



Do “student films” matter?

If I asked you to name 3 student films, would you be able to?

If you’re not a recent film school graduate or a film teacher , the category “student film” probably doesn’t mean much to you. Everyone knows about Roman Polanski’s film-school masterpiece “Knife in The Water”, but beyond that student films sound like football practice. Exciting huh?

Actually there is such a thing as the Student Academy Award (did you know) and film schools are popping up like blow-flowers, all around the world. Film is the new universal language, next to music. Movies come to your home now, like Radio began to do in the 30s. As Sony once posted on a billboard : “Everyone is a director”. There is a highly publicized process of democratization in film. It’s great for companies selling cheaper and cheaper cameras and smart-phones. Everyone needs one, right? Who wants to be let out of the fun of getting a movie from your cousin rather than a phone call? And sharing videos, of course.  Or an animated story, or a Vine? (are Vines still growing?) For the semipros, equipment is the hot matter. Check that you have the newest Black Magic model camera,  that your three-month old software is not already obsolete. If you use RED, just keep updating those workflows.

The focus on equipment is clear. If you are making a film, your post-production set appears to be the most important feature. Yes, even more than your content. Do you have a good colourist, awesome VFX? great, shoot and you can fix it all in post. A recent NOFILMSCHOOL post highlighted the work of Akira Kurosawa). This giant of a director knew his cameras well, so much so that he felt no pain breaking some key cinematography rules, such as the 180 degree rule. even more than camera, Kurosawa thought like an editor, gazing in his cinema head not only at shots, but at the dynamic interplay of cut footage, with sound. He saw the edited movie in his head, and the material came together organically, like a piece of music composed by different orchestra elements.

There are film schools that focus on equipmen,


THANK YOU! Scriptonite Seminar in SF.

THANK YOU to everyone who ttok part in  the sold-out U.S. debut of  my new story-development seminar and workshop: “Scriptonite: Transform your Storytelling”.

I could not have imagined a better location than the awesome Meisner Technique Institute in the Presidio, San Francisco. I thank the gracious organizers Jimmy Jarrett and Melissa Thompson Esaia.  I have spent 15 years in Scandinavia, leading workshops around the world. This California series is a long-awaited homecoming event.

“How to make scripts faster and better, how to tell more original, physical stories for the screen?”  These were my starting questions.

No speaker, mentor or teacher could wish for a room so packed, for group more warm,  intense and diverse.  Artists as young as 70 and as curious as 17, eyes full of desire for the art of cinematic storytelling.  My vision at Cinemahead has always been to share  the simplest ways to make good stories well told. Now, with Scriptonite, I add a layer, a storytelling practice.  Add it to established scriptwriting theories you already use.

With traditional screenplay theory,  actual development can still be very  long and difficult. There are  rules to follow, plus formatting and dramatic standards to obey. Much of the fresh inspiration a writer brings to the process can get buried under the obligation to write for sale rather than for production.  Scriptonite transforms  the storytelling process into a liberating independent film-making effort.

If one of your scripts is stuck in a loop of feedbacks, or in the quicksand of start-stop motivation, Scriptonite can  help you structure a story for creative affirmation and narrative empowerment. Think about structure to go along with various scriptwriting software you use for dialogue and descriptions.  Visualize your path of cinematic storytelling first!

Thank you for all the emails, tweets and notes of support and or request for script support and consulting. I am beginning to reply with booking schedules.

Looking forward >



talkin’ INTERSTELLAR Blues

TED interstellar blogpost


“Interstellar” By Chris Nolan has sparked admiration and quality criticism (New Yorker)  Few other high-concept films in recent years have had this kind of echo, as if it were “2001 Space Odyssey” all over again.

TED-ed posted a number of blog posts and visuals about the science in the film.

The conversation continues here Cinemahead Forum

Clayton Kershaw, when a story melts down.

The Dodgers blew it again in the playoffs gifting the St. Louis cards with a take-home 1-3 series. This time it was star pitcher Kershaw who owned the melt down: he gave away a 6-1 lead in game 1 and a 2-0 lead in the 7th inning of game 4. The figthing red birds gratefully grabbed the offer en route to the world series.

Now, Kershaw is perhaps the best regular-season pitcher today. So, play along with my metaphor here: I see a pitcher like a top screenwriter, a master storyteller with a job: to take home a concept, a strategy, and in the end win. In baseball it’s the won game, in scriptwriting a finished, imaginative, killer story. (Sold, yeah.)

Kershaw in 2014 playoffs wrote some great beginnings, rock’n’roll first acts, then lost his plot points in act 3. The Dodgers jumped to early leads and coasted forward evenly. This is what good writers have learned to do, by apprenticeship and instinct:  set up the game-story and control it, directly, by pitching strikes and outs, and indirectly by inspiring your teammates to asphalt their opponents with talent.  But what about highs and lows? What about action?

Kershaw looked like William Goldman in the first 6 innings of both game 1 and 4: solid presence, perfect timing and ahead of the opposition. You trust a good writer like Goldman to take you on an adventure, like you trust Hitchock to serve a juicy finale no matter how cheap the McGuffin. But a “won game” has to actually be won, like in chess. A winning idea for a script has to be developed until it’s done and over. And it pays off.

Instead, the Dodgers seemed to wait lazily hoping to avoid disturbing plot complications. These horrors, in the form of home-runs, errors and comebacks, hurt. The more you are ahead, the darker the chance that forces of antagonism will team up to pull you down.

Kershaw may have to pitch his way out of a reputation as a choker, by winning “won games” that count. Lost games may be paradoxically easier to win, as concentration is less likely to slip away and a pitcher gets max support from his cast. But winning the “won games” is the ultimate test of patience, character, skillful. A subtle creeping danger haunted our pitcher-writer choice by choice, action by action, pitch after pitch, surfing the good story, gliding upwards towards a clear & happy climax, nothing to fear.

But our defeated storyteller Kershaw may have fallen into that exact trap of ignoring fear, coasting to a shortcut to the win. He even arm-wrestled opponents with a hasty greed for overpowering show-and-tell fastballs… Oops, gone. So little regard for  the dark disasters that lurk within an unfinished opus.

Clayton: in those fierce do-or-die moments (which will come again) focus your heart on your inner scoreboard, the one that ultimately matters. Fear is defeat. Keep your story burning.

Branding smart w/ fresh squeeze: an immunity booster?


Sweden is famous for its quality of life, democracy and gender equality – but not necessarily for humor (certainly not during the week).

So you can image my surprise when yesterday, just back from travel, I found this funny looking juice with a label the likes of which I’d never seen before.

Here was an example of branding with infotainment!

Recycling bits of Berlusconi news is in itself not news. The man has used gaffes and bad jokes as a way to boost his humanity and friendliness. Anyone remember the sad/mad Holocaust joke he cracked at a EU parliament session.

But now, the Man has lost his parliamentary immunity after been sentenced for fraud. Why put this on the juice pack? It’s innovative branding, for sure.

What do you think?

Any other examples of something similar?

GIVE IT ALL AWAY! Show your movie for free and watch what happens…

Crazy and Thief from Cory McAbee on Vimeo.

I am convinced that films should be screened for free. This is crazy by Industry standards of course, because there is still a bums (asses) in the seats mentality for film product, like there was from the age of Lumiere, Edison and Nickelodeons.

The “shoot for cash” mentality has lead us to awesome films and now heads for infinite action hero sequels. More coming on your visual plate by the way. The stock of Marvel stories is infinite, and there will always be a Ben Affleck to take a Batman role.

4-10K digital magic and FX do the box-office magic. From “Transformers” high-end production value have ridiculed and knocked-out indie filmmakers trapped in adult or teenage drama themes investigating life and its real-life dilemmas.

Here today you find a film distributed for free and made for passion. More and more movies that matter are made because someone has something to say, sell or not. Undistributed films find lots of places online to screen and enlarge their followings from festival appearances.

Getting your movie made requires no budget and no stars, no pre-sales and no big business. Now, if you wrote an A-listhe screenplay and have a star attached, go for the option, the sale and the kill – with all its compromises attached. But if you have an idea for a quirky film that bends the marketing rules, why not go for it anyway and shoot it rather than try and twist, butter and sugar the script.

There are so many ways to make a first picture open gates for you and start-up your careers. Career, yes. From simple ideas developed well and given away.

enjoy the show

read the full article on the film here

Take the Sundance & Gates Foundation short film challenge?

Sundance and the Gates foundation welcome (and fund sinner) films about solutions to poverty, cinematic celebrations of innovation and problem-solving for common global problems.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 1.04.32 PM

find all the info here

Also check out the doc film contest about Climate Change, from way back in 2007.