Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Class 02/09: How To Tell A Story

- Email JD Schramm to meet with him for one hour
o if you would like his help extensively starting to build out story from data, meet at least 2 weeks in advance. If already have story and data then it is okay to meet for an hour about one week beforehand.
o Jennifer’s suggestion: to write down sub-lots before meet with JD (i.e. subplot can add to main plot)
1) Title
2) Something to talk about
3) Two discrete groups
(ideal viral videos will speak to two discrete groups):
o Start writing down one- liners for your pod
o Can email Jennifer your pods’ one liners to be passed on to Oren, JD, etc.

- Building Your Personal Brand: class Jennifer will teach next semester.

How to Tell a Story Presentation
- Little stories should add up to one big story
- Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional --> great framework that make a story stick
- Think about arc
o Story climax that brings about absolute, irreversible change
o Story structure is critical in arousing emotions

- A silhouette factor
o Let’s you know what to cut from a program by judging the number of people that walk out of the show/room.
- Inciting incidence: characters at one point of story where they decide to take an action that will change the rest of their lives
o In Casablanca: 34 minutes into the film the (page 15 of the script).This is unusually late into the story.
o Ilsa walks in, Rick can no longer deny his past.
- Main story in Casablanca: Rick makes a decision to send Laslo and Ilsa to America after Ilsa says“I cannot decide. You decide for us”
Subplot: often simplified plot; includes introduction, escalation, climax, resolution, but edits out the main part
o All 5 subplots reinforce the main plot in the film
o Can edit out main elements of the story arc, i.e. important actions can happen off-the screen
- Plot: series of choices and instances that occur in order

o Beginning, escalation and end --> characters come out as fundamentally different human beings
o In the beginning: Rick is neutral; at the end he completely changes: sends Ilsa off with Laslo, kills German general
- “If your characters don’t change, you’ve told no story, you’ve related the incidents.”

- Storytelling
- Start wide, cull many stories before cutting
o Interweave the many stories you come up with, and then boil down to the essence of each; that is, make sure the final product reveals the most important part of each character
o Everything else is superfluous or additive material
o Keep asking yourself: is this superfluous?
- Sometimes it is hard to cut something yourself, this is why it is good to have other people edit and cut for you

- Words: tiny change (3 words can change a character i.e. in “A Bug’s Life”)
Know when to shut up
o Brevity makes the audience feel respected
o Brevity mystifies

- If you find your sub-plot becoming more important that your main plot, drop your main plot and elevate your subplot
“The power of one-liners”
- One-liners: lines communicate the souls of characters very efficiently – they are effective, terse. i.e. “Here’s looking at you kid” (there is weight in the context of the film)
o The craft of screenwriting is to communicate the feelings of the characters obtusely (around the issue).
o Screenwriters use words only to add to what the audience sees on the screen. There is no need to describe what the audience already saw.

- Documentary film-maker
- Go into film with an idea, shoot many, many stories and then cut the extraneous materials
- Commitment, passion and food and 3 people using chocolate to change the world.
- Characters: the more specific information that is given about a given character, the more general that character can become
o Make sure that you are not coming across in a way that you couldn’t predict
o Notes do matter when audience interprets something differently from what you intended.
o Always look before the note/comment was given.
- “Own your audience.”
- “The only time audience does not lie is when they are watching a movie.”
o Watch the audience watch your film / audio/visual work.
Be careful about receiving feedback from the audience.
o There needs to be one person and/or one core group that has the vision for the project. You take all the notes and zero in only on the ones that make sense for your story.

- Practice distancing yourself from your project.

- Story of Wendel – one face among many
o Feedback: powerful and dangerous thing to silence a room
o Which way will take the story? It starts down, if go up then story will be one directional. If down, it is a bit sad because we already start low.
o One liner intro was great: we went to a soup kitchen
o Physically be consistent with your story – i.e. physically do not talk. i.e. gag yourself and end PPT with “can we hear him?” --> engage the audience.
o You put audience into an emotional state, now make the audience take action.
- Viny Dotolo
o Opened school in Harlem to give students a chance
o Be careful if toggle between various versions mediums If have audio/video going in the background when you are talking, be very engaging
o Do not comment about your own story, just tell the story. Let audience come to that conclusion yourself; this respects the audience.
o Know your audience.
o Hand out information at the end.
o Can tell multiple stories: i.e. of both Vinny and the kids.
3 story telling tips:
- “A good story, well told.”
o A good story is not enough. It must be well told.
- “What happens is fact, not truth”
o Truth is what we think about what happens.
- “A story must somehow express everything you left out.”
o Let audience make inferences.

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