Friday, February 13, 2009

PoST Blog 2/9/09

Today’s class was about how to tell a story. It was really interesting to hear from professional filmmakers about how they tell stories and for a few groups to get feedback on their stories.
JD Schramm
• Find an hour with him and pod to hone final presentation, do this early on if possible, ideally 2 weeks before final prez, between Feb. 27 and March 9.
• Hone the final presentation (share the draft) OR Share the various pieces with him, ask for help in constructing final presentation
• All stories about brand should add up to one message
• SUCCESS framework from “Made to Stick” is useful but is not about HOW to tell a story
• Know when to shut up
• Pick specific roles for your story, articulate it through one word (“Defender” for Land Rover, “Queen” for Range Rover”), minimize cannibalization, nothing is fatty
• Practice distancing from your project, get some perspective
• Follow-on class in the spring will build on these ideas, Jennifer to maintain energy and build personal relationships with us
Guest: Oren
• Worked on Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life
• STORY by Robert McKee spent 40 years of his life collecting info and telling stories, much of Oren’s comments will draw from this book
• A story is a thing and a cultural practice
• Story usually about an inciting incident, facing a point of choice, compelled to change some aspects of their lives
• Always introduce yourself when pitching
Casablanca review
• Rick’s life is changed when she walks back into the bar and thus back into his life, now he must face the demons left behind in Paris
• This happens late in the script in order to give more backstory about Rick and the war, at 35 minutes into the film, this is late by general movie standards
• Several other sub-plots add interest to story and add weight to main story line through resonance and dissonance
• PLOT- set of specific set of choices that occur in an order facing the main characters, must have an introduction, inciting incident, climax, and a resolution
• Subplots- often simplified, edited out details, characters must change in the end, collectively pile on weight upfront to the main story line between Rick and Isla
o Bulgarian couple: she was going to sleep with officer to get papers, Rick helps the guy win money through roulette to pay for papers, this follows the main storyline of the film in which Rich helps Isla and Laslo
o French vs. German citizenry: great singing scene, see tension between the two groups
o Refugees in general: They look longingly at airports departing, smiles & frowns come and go to reflect mood of the movement
o Yvonne: dodgy love interest, her loyalties quickly change from Rick to German officer to France
o Laslo: leader of opposition movement, trying to get to America, spent time in concentration camp
o Rick vs. Ferrari (owner of other bar): Ferrari starts off just being a buyer of people, doesn’t care about anyone, but in the end decides to help Laslo leave Morocco
• Rick changes, combatant before in two different wars, he begins the movie neutral and mad at universe, he treats his own people very fairly, he becomes very partisan by killing German officer and helping out Laslo and the cause
• Lots of music in this film, 12 songs, more songs than Cats or Chicgao true musicals
• Rick’s Café echoes the American stance of neutrality
• Pickpocket was there for comic relief, he never changes
• What is the role of sublots?
o Jennifer suggest writing down all subplots related to your cause which add to overall plot (resonance) or show a contrast (humor or differentiation), write down one-liners (“Here’s looking at you, kid.”)
• More specific characters can be more generalizable (Rick is America)
Guest: Justine
• Was an attorney, hated her job, makes less $ now making films but is happier
• When telling stories to their kids or making films, she simplifies things, edits out hours of footage
• Law school helped her practice the art of getting to the core story
• Pitched a story idea in front of 80 people at Sundance, received $500 to finish her film “Paper or Plastic”
• Trailers are another vehicle to tell a story within 2 minutes
• New project- commitment, passion, and food, about 3 people who want to change the world through chocolate
o Frederick, the heart of the story, want to create factory at the source and sell it locally
o Diego, cow farmer in Brazil, sustainable farming, he is the earth
o Chloe, she is the mind and educator, highest paid chocolate connoisseur, only takes 4 chocolates a day, Robert Parker of the chocolate world, show consumers how to buy good chocolate
• Want to tell a larger story about food production, consumer
• Mental exercise of separating yourself from the project, was able to cut 30 minutes out of old film gave perspective and made it less personal
Guest: Oren
• Oren says to entertain yourself first and foremost is the priority, understand that audience comment cards are not everything, it is better to watch the audience watch the film, see when they laugh and when they are distracted, they lie afterwards on cards, don’t change whole structure but can tweak small things
• If something doesn’t work or a joke falls flat, go back and fix the core issue before the problem, why did you get that reaction?
• Notes from informed audience is helpful and dangerous, maybe they know too much
• Need to have a core vision and stick with it
Group Pitches & Feedback
1. Hunger group (Oren and Andii)
a. Got Wendel point, setting and character is heavy (homelessness, joblessness, health problems, hunger)
b. Powerful and dangerous to silence a room, held group
c. Don’t know what will happen to him next- he seems screwed (cancer and no $), add hints
d. Is this a redemptive story? (only goes up) Or a punishing one? (go further down)
e. Simple opening (“we went to a soup kitchen”) was good
f. Look at audience during prez
g. St. Vincent’s was his hope, tell more about St. Vincent, show faces, picture with backs of heads is distant, picture of him will help us connect
h. Gag yourself and ask “can you hear him?” on last slide
i. Wendel needs to change to make this a real story about him, a societal call-out is using him which is fine, give way for audience to feel good and do something about it
2. Education (Nico)
a. Complicated audio-visual set-up, a lot going on, video + Nico + handout, blocked Oren’s view, hard to talk over a video, must control what the audience sees, could have spoken entirely alone or entirely video
b. Don’t read your slides, make it a handout afterwards or don’t share at all, dangerous to hand out something while you are speaking
c. Oren: Appeal to credibility should be edited out, don’t share interpretation of the story, seems like justification, meta-comment makes Oren suspicious about why you are doing that, let audience come to that conclusion themselves about Vincent or the school
d. Justine: Liked knowing he was a friend, gave it a personal connection
e. Liked the last 30 seconds of video with kids saying their names & career goals best, shows potential
f. Think of 5 one-liners that best convey the story
g. Know who your audience is, are they funders? Word of mouth?
h. If goal is funding, then need to show conflict and need for $ to make a call to action, school must seem successful but not going to make it without funding, show how hard the current climate is, tell a compelling story about vinny, about the school, what the problem is
i. Combine Vinny story, student, school progress, and need for funding, makes for a complicated plot


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