A group of writers and editors will participate in a digital storytelling experiment using Tumblr. For three days, they will collaborate on a story in the style of the “exquisite corpse.” Each writer will take a turn adding to a single story with text, images, videos, and audio at their disposal. We’ll follow the story session with a panel discussion with the authors to discuss the experiment as well as their experience in digital storytelling and using the Internet to market creative work.
Carl Sagans Cosmos - Episode 1 - The Shores Of The Cosmic Ocean
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, with Sagan as presenter. It was executive-produced by Adrian Malone, produced by David Kennard, Geoffrey Haines-Stiles and Gregory Andorfer, and directed by the producers and David Oyster, Richard Wells, Tom Weidlinger, and others.
This episode, more than anything else, changed my view on what was possible with a serialized nonfiction story. The way the writers choose to speak about science and astronomy and evolution was as risky as it was poetic.
frame posted via post406
There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing.
I watched Lawrence of Arabia tonight, it was my first time seeing this film… it’s only been 30 minutes, but I have the urge to watch it again. I won’t, at least not tonight I mean, I’m falling asleep. But wow… such precision.
Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck
via Brain Pickings
John Steinbeck — Pulitzer Prize winner, Nobel laureate — with six tips on writing, culled from his altogether excellent interview it the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review.
- Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
- Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
- Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
- If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
- Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
- If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
But perhaps most paradoxically yet poetically, twelve years prior — in 1963, immediately after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception” — Steinbeck issued a thoughtful disclaimer to all such advice:
If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.”
via FToM film:
via karen abad:
Bleh. New Camera - SNOOZE. […] Find a good story, actors, production designer, director, editor, sound designer, etc, and you can make a good film regardless of what new camera you shoot with. A new camera can only help the quality of your images get better, it doesn’t make or break it.
Agreed! As of writing this, Larry is somewhere between Big Sur and Los Angeles, and when he nears Malibu, I’ll be recording him riding down Highway 1, and all I want camera-wise is my old HFs20. Save yourself the extra $6,000 and spend your time and energy on story.
via Tumblr Staff:
Karen Abad is an adventuneer and director of photography who likes to collect and preserve moving images. Previously interested in psychology and film theory, her exploration into cinematography began the moment she first operated an Arri 16BL. “Something about the sound of film rolling through the camera and capturing the perfect motion and lighting felt just right,” she says. Karen uses the camera to tell short narrative stories based on life’s whimsical moments. Her work includes several short films, music videos for New Buffalo and Broken Social Scene, and collaboration with Photojojo, Mission Bicycle, and many others.
via FToM film:
Been struggling these last three weeks just to keep my head above water - I know a lot of people are feeling that way these days, much of my time is spent applying to jobs that I never hear back from and listing things to sell on Amazon and Craigslist. I’m keeping a chin up though - I know we’ll be okay as long as we stay positive and keep pushing forward.
Last night I took the edge off a bit by watching an hour of the film - the structure that I’ve been working with the last year is more bare-bones, as far as what shots and sequences I’ve used so far to piece the story together; one thing I’ve been making an effort to do lately is track down more related footage and intentionally bloat the edit. A month ago the timeline ran about 2 hours even, as of last night it’s pushing closer to 2 and a half hours long. Much of the pieces that I’m cramming in will eventually get trimmed back out - but it’s important I make sure I’ve carefully compared different available shots before locking picture.
It has been amazing to rediscover footage that I haven’t seen or thought about in almost eight months, it’s all sitting there in a separate five hour edit waiting to be taken advantage of. The above screengrab is the film’s timeline short of the first fifteen minutes, which were cropped out when I made the image 4x4, it’s surreal for me to look at the tiny blocks above knowing they represent years of work. So close.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.
Two quick points to this: 1) Was very happy to see Zadi and Epic FU featured during this interview. 2) I’m really, really, really glad that the average length of shows or content is moving closer and closer to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes. I can’t begin to exprese how strongly I disagreed with the three minute hotspot mentality of creators. The internet not only allows for niche’ ideas and communities, but it also allows story structuring that would never be permitted in a TV environment. So, I’m excited, very excited, to see where storytellers take their ideas now that the general audience is growing more and more accepting of long-form content.
Q:For some time film has held my interest, but obstacles seem to always come up and if one isn't going to film school it's hard to know where to start. I'm interested to know, how did you get your start? Did you go to film school or did you make your own path? If so do you have any advice? Also what keeps you going despite the setbacks related to finishing your feature?
Hey Roger - I think you’re in a better position than you might realize; in not having gone to film school you aren’t shouldering a large debt while doing exactly what you’re doing now, wanting to start a film.
Granted, for anywhere between $7,000 - $35,000 a year you could have a nice framed piece of paper that says you are capable of filmmaking, but that paper doesn’t mean much else at the end of the day; you have either started, stuck with, grown alongside and completed your film, or you haven’t.
School can open doors for you - putting yourself our there can also open those same doors for you, you can make efforts to drop by the occasional meet-up, you can create and put what you create online to share with others; in either case you get out what you put in, as cheesy as that may read, and that is not the same as “getting what you pay for”.
So, when I say you’re in a better position than you might realize, yes, filmmaking has a long learning curve, and perhaps film school could better prepare you for some of the business side troubles of filmmaking, but then again, so might a good $60 book off Amazon; what really matters, and I was given this advice over five years ago, “if you don’t *want* to do this every day, every single day, day after day after day, then it’s not for you”. And that’s it.
You can break that idea apart into little pieces and re-organize it into a 5 or 10 or 15 year plan with film-schools (oh, and before I forget to answer your question, no, I didn’t go to a film school) and internships and music videos and AP positions, etc, but all that really matters is filmmaking or storytelling is what you’re happy doing; it is what you miss when you’ve been away for a day, a week, a month, it is that thing that wakes you back up inside. It doesn’t have to be an exclusive driver either - I get very passionate / geeked out about a handful of things, sometimes those things fit together under one project and sometimes I have to balance out my time between each.
But, none of this rambling nonsense is very direct - so here’s three things I thought of when reading your question:
- Commit to your project in the open. Create a place for your project, whether that’s a full-blown site, a simple blog, a twitter account, a facebook page, or even all of the above; create a place where you can clearly announce your intentions and your goals. Don’t just create a teaser-page or a splash-page either, make sure it’s something that collects dust quickly - a site that requires, by design, regular updates is a great watermark for progress.
- Commit to more than you’re sure you can deliver on. This rule falls in line with the idea that kids who do awful in school are often just extremely bored. Start a project that you can grow with.
- Never worry about an original premise, just focus on your voice; your voice will always be original. You’ll run yourself in circles trying to come up something “original”, everything is a remix, everything is an idea grown from another idea stolen from real life. Take something that’s interesting to you - it can be another film, it can be a genre, it can be a mood, it can be a photograph you saw in a library last year, it doesn’t matter if you start with a story arc or an unrelated visual; personally, I often build a story around a visual or a sound than the other way around, but for every person it’s unique.
As for what keeps me going - despite setbacks - fear, fear keeps me going more than anything. The love of storytelling and the way it makes me feel when I’ve put something out there that someone connects with is what keeps me focused - but fear is what pushes me, maybe that will change in the future as I grow older, but right now, being young and inexperienced, fear is a powerful and useful motivator.
via Zadi Diaz
Battlestar Galactica - Series Bible. 53 typewritten pages by Ronald D. Moore.
High on my reading-list is Moore’s outline for Battlestar Galactica - building a long-arc story is one thing, that process can be unique for each person; but if you want to see how to piece together an ambitious series outline, these 53 pages are invaluable.
I might get a few strange looks for this… but when I was young, I was fascinated with the film Alive, a film about a group of real-life teenage rugby players who crash and survive in the Andes mountains for 72 days. I watched it dozens of times during middle and high school.
The recent documentary, Stranded - I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains ( DVD ), is a collection of first-hand accounts with the actual survivors of that crash. Aside from it being one of the most visually engaging and crafted documentaries I’ve ever seen, it’s also one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever heard.
It’s been one of the clearest examples of people’s inner strength… of our ability to, in the most nightmarish of situations, not only simply survive, but to tap into a part of ourselves that is buried… that is often unnecessary in our routines.
via briefly noted:
I’d like to expand my dashboard with more content creators. I’ve scoured the directory, but I wanted to ask my followers - who are your favorite video / photography artists on Tumblr?
- This short twitter conversation has been on my mind the last few days and I thought I would copy & paste the following to keep the conversation going. I love the idea of taking all the pieces of storytelling apart and putting them together in a different way, but I know it's not something done easily; I am hoping the longer the conversation continues, the closer we'll come to a unique approach to web series. →
- Barrett: Is anyone in development (not even yet to pre-pro) on a series that is shot/created completely differently from TV or film?
- Me: I'm curious :) how do you mean completely differently? Logistically? Technically? Structurally?
- Barrett: yes.
- Me: ha, such a tease :) That is something to think about - has anyone put out any ideas on how to go about everything so differently?
- Barrett: I don't know of many. Start with the most basic of assumptions and then throw them away. Then go even further back. How much of the expected way of doing things can you break down to rebuild as something new? Let's take apart ALL the lego pieces and see what we can do with them.
- Me: I do love playing with legos *nods* probably much more so than I should for someone my age :P
- Barrett: Nah, it's our inner child's creativity that's gonna allow for some serious trend bucking. And that's where things get interesting.
- Me: the difficulty is in not creating a structure that is limited and applicable to only one show... as a random example: a series built around a large number of locked / security-like cameras that users control at any given time... that could work great for a specific series - but could it be adopted as a wider approach of storytelling and not feel dated?
via FToM film:
For all of social media’s inefficiencies - for every minute that was spent updating the production blog instead of applying for finishing grants, or responding to comments and building relationships instead of editing - the film would have died out long ago without that connection.
I cannot stress this enough or too many times, the decision to be open about our process was made to build an audience, but, in retrospect, what it actually built was a support structure that has pulled both myself and the project forward when it needed it most. For every three months that went by with little feedback from the outside world, at moments where I felt lost and inert from depression and exhaustion and frustration, one person would write an email to me and say they just spent the last six hours on our website watching episodes and teasers, and it would fill me with hope and excitement and drive.
It makes no difference whether you’re piecing together a film or any other project personal or professional, it is human nature to self-doubt and second-guess - share everything you possibly can online; going it alone only ensures no one will call you out when you’re dragging your feet, or let you know they care when you’re convinced no one possibly could.