Tagged: filmmaker

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‘.

REMEMBER THE GIFT TROJAN HORSE ?

I love “Fitzcarraldo” (by Werner Herzog, with Klaus Kinsky), a story about mad vision in the Amazon forest. And yet, the making-of film “Burden Of Dreams” (by Les Blanc) completes the movie organically, not only as a Blue-Ray added value. The same I can say about “Apocalypse Now” and its making-of film “Heart Of Darkness”.

Independent films can tell their making-of story as an organic making-of doc as well. The story of a movie starts with idea, and journeys thru development, Kickstarter / Indiegogo campaigns, etcetera.

The image that comes to mind is the Trojan Gift Horse, full of power within, and only in appearance a predictable offering.

Once inside the gates, the movie-horse can open and reveal hidden content.trojanhorse-gif

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

Need a film crew?

avatar, film crew network post

FCN – Film Crew Network – is, in its own words “a Network that puts quality before quantity keeping things up close and personal to support each member through their developments. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career our crew will welcome and help you out since we we all started somewhere and sometimes all we needed was some inspiration and support to keep us buzzing and on track. On FCN you will be able to meet some very cool individuals that have worked on gigs we all dream of, make some valuable connections, share and learn from some of the best in the industry.”

SOME FCN FEATURES:
JOB post and respond
PROJECTS create & invite crew onto your projects
NETWORK develop your specialist list of contacts
ALBUMS create and develop unlimited
ADVERTISE yourself or your business
SHOWREEL & video upload and share
GROUP & EVENT creation and participation
UNRESTRICTED contact on the Network

check out the FCN site!
CINEMAHEAD

Stop Motion Last Supper by Charlie (the Kaufmans, that is)

Charlie Kaufman (and his brother) is a writer everyone seems to love. When I ask “who’s your favorite screenwriter” usually it’s either Kaufman or Tarantino or “the guy who wrote Seven“.

One of the reasons i think we seem to remember Charlie Kaufman as the author (more than whoever directed) is because he downloads his imagination straight into our gut. His worlds crack open or double up, crumble inside out and upside down, like our very own.

The best way to tell a personal story of truth, according to Federico Fellini, is to invent a whole environment of fiction. Not a dream world necessarily, but a believable make-believe in which the forces of drama embody people. People who fight their own gut instincts, people paralysed by the impossible choices in love and life.

It’s always a pleasure to hear filmmakers like Charlie Kaufman talk with candor and humility.

And – if you haven’t yet – take a look at Charlie Kaufman’s crowdfunded stop-motion animation

“Anomalisa”

Avant 2013 – Exp. film fest in sweden

 

AVANT is a yearly Experimental Film Festival in Karlstad

avant poster

Every year the subject for AVANT changes. In 2012 it was comedy with “Avant Goes Witty” and the humorous strand in experimental film, with super-8 programs by the Spanish maker David Domingo (aka Stanley Sunday), British filmmaker John Smith,  and  work by Robert Nelson presented by Mark Toscano, archivist at Academy Film Archive, Los Angeles.  
The program for august 2013 is….?AVANT 2013 will again be  free of charge with online booking.

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