Tagged: experiment

Why good stories make you want to have a better life.

Recently I liked this far away three-pointer by Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed.  They always struck me as adventurous storytelling characters, Super-people from the quiet wild side.

Their quote was about finding ways to get through life.

One: “Don’t be afraid of anyone. Now, can you imagine living your life afraid of no one?”

Two: “Get a really good bullshit detector.”

Three: “Three is be really, really tender.”

“And with those three things” – Laurie said – “you don’t need anything else.”

In the full wide range that stretches from street hobos to rich presidents and from Ivy-league dropouts to post-celebrity rehabs, there is a common thread:  life is ripe with conflict.

Sure, conflict is what made humans sharper, problem solvers until the last beat. Storytellers know that ultimately conflict alone can float identity through a sea of half-truths, up, up to the surface where the sun plays catch with flying fish. However important our culture of conflict may be, the search for less human pain, suffering, and crisis may also be a story to pursue. A peaceful target to shoot for.

In dramatic movies, the ending may be, in terms of plot, happy or unhappy. In either case, if the story works, the viewer is rewarded with insights into the depths of human life.

The ancient Greeks attended Tragedies more than school, feasting on pop-corn-less morality with cathartic heroes like Oedipus (an unknowing motherfucker) or universal strategists like Ulysses, king of the surprise climax.

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Endings in these stories didn’t seem to matter much. The deus ex machina finale at times gave Gods the task of resolving plot indecision or confusion. This over-the-top device released authors from spending too much stage-time on predictable closing show and tell details. (They lived happily ever after! was another shortcut).  The middle of the story is where it all happened. Development, substance, focus, now.

So, what can we learn about “making our life better” by watching a film story?  It is true that caped Super-heroes are our cultural diet now, just as Commedia dell’Arte theatre masks were dominant wanderers from town to town for four centuries.

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Masks are types. Types embody in broad strokes the infinite relationships among standard folk: the rich man, the poor woman, the young lovers, the old doctor, the cop, the thief, the servant.

It’s all about relationships, stupid.

A film I would watch again is one that leads to my relationship with the story. Titanic was a lesson in teen-age blockbuster making, who would have thought it? Multiple viewings create a relationship, characters become familiar: it’s the key to the new TV series mania.

Note for debate: Characters are not people, but they’re close enough to pretend. Characters stand in a story because the plot says so, and the writer cast them for a role.  No script? No character. They look like people, however. Or should.

This is not the case in real life where life may be scripted but in all likelihood is not very good. Determinists saw destiny play a bigger part than individuals. In the west we famously trust individual agency and will to drive success and failure.

You want to be the big boss man? Slay the dragons. Dominate your universe and plunge forward. Action films seem equivalent to playing Mozart with only Major chords. (Male chords, duh)

I have a preference for the Minor Key in film. Movies that don’t try and impress only with underlined cinematic cartwheeling. I have the same bias meeting people at parties.

If a film reveals a personal insight, I am Up.  If there is a label that explains everything or indicates next to each action, I am turned off. I follow film-makers that make movies that matter, even a little.

As a producer of youth-cinema, I see film conflict not as a medieval head-to-head battle to release adrenaline, but a personal texture, an inside chess game of question marks: where to go? what to do? How? Who with? Well told conflict can be hesitation pure and simple. Or an identity short-circuit. Or lack of clarity, loss of vision. How to take direct action choices, then? Voting can be Hamletic too, in hard times.

Even without a simple top-down final duel on a skyscraper, a film can lead to a character’s foggy melting point, the quiet intersection of dramatic need, desire and urgency in search of identity.

Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed are not film characters.

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Their lingo is story with sound. They quest to stay away from trouble, they are grounded in their shape-shifting personae. Who they want to be? Simple:  happier spending time together.  Popcorn flicks too could explore that engagement vibe.

In the script of life rewritten, I would try reducing, not adding, conflict to stories.  Better conflict, of course, the one worth fighting for without fists and watching with senses aloft. As James Joyce said, the cinema is a “screen of consciousness”.

Luckily I am not afraid of fear, I can smell bullshit from outside the playground, and I still want to hear my kids tell me I was kind. That’s a step towards a better now, even for a callous storyteller like me.

There is already enough conflict to go around in the world.

Danny Alegi is a filmmaker, story development coach and speaker.  Read more of Danny’s blogs at ‘Movies Without Cameras‘.

talkin’ INTERSTELLAR Blues

TED interstellar blogpost
TEDed

“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

STARTUP your STORY – new seminar series

StartupurstoryIn the past, Cinemahead has created doc and animation films for the the city of Karlstad.

StartUp your Story is our new seminar + workshop series on cinematic story design, story different for writers and non.

We open Friday Feb 21st in Karlstad, Sweden at the modern Karlstad CCC Conference center.
The series will continue in different locations for 2014 with further events and dates TBA.

Each event is divided in two sets/halfs. The first half is a seminar which will be entirely free for students with ID. The second half will be a hands-on workshop on scripts, story lines, idea development and scene doctoring.

START UP YOUR STORY opens at 9:00 AM and ends at 16:00, with a 1 hour lunch break @12:00.

Please note that online registration is required for admission. You can sign up for the seminar in this link. No one can enter after 10:00. Contact us if you are a student to joon for free.

The seminar is based on our freeebook “Start-Up Your Story” that you can download here.

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questions?
Contact@cinemahead.com

+ metaphor, – rethoric. Cuaron on shooting his 3-week screenplay.

@Cinemahead we map scripts because it makes the process of writing less painful and more fun. A story map makes the making-of a script faster, visual, imaginative. Plus, it makes it easy to collaborate.

I ran into this YouTube interview with Alfonso Cuaron, director of “Y Tu Mama Tambien”. Listen to what he has to say about coming up with and directing “Gravity”. He says it was “a script that took three weeks to write”, a story rooted in personal adversities.

yup.

Live Cinema ain’t dead.

I went to see AVANT Live Cinema and I wish you had too. Live, wow. Done, gone. That sort of thing.

Avantfilm.se is the no-budget experimental film festival that happens every off the beaten map in Karlstad, Sweden. This was edition n.10, all organized by the indefatigable film studies prof. John Sundholm.

In the past Gunvor Nelson, Bruce McClure and other avant-gardists have treated the audience to rare personal films.

Here are a few moving images from this year’s magical Live Cinema happening.

Are film-makers innovators?

A film-maker is a “maker” in the open-source sense, a tinkerer with old tools and new technologies. Film-makers use familiar and unfamiliar materials to develop personal takes on story and film.

The meaning, as canadian animator Norman McLaren used to say, is between the frames of a film, between the lines, in the changing relationships and tensions between colours, shapes, the dark and light.

There is a lot of learning going on. Sharing knowledge is the smartest most tangible reward a collective society affords its citizens no matter if they are leaders or followers.  
 
Check out this short & funny TED talk about starting a movement.  The first person to follow an idea is just as important as the first person who jumped up and down screaming Eureka!

 

Film-makers are true innovators exploring, digging thru hybrid sources narrative environments to re:mix and share with a crowd they get to kno. Solitary reflections and social encounters. from garage to garage, from lab to classroom, from funded projects to home studios, help feed a landscape of one-of-a-kind miniature film-making platforms bringing together mentors and apprentices, developing and supporting projects and collaborations, encouraging freedom in storytelling and shared making-of experiences.