Thursday, 11 February 2016

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

22 Story Lessons... from Pixar

Emma Coats is an animator who works for Pixar. Although she is a relatively low-level employee, she listens when the serious story-people talk. And when she hears something good, she writes it down. 

Early last year, she tweeted a series of “story basics”—guidelines she learned from her more senior colleagueson how to create appealing stories. In May 2011, the Pixar blog (The Pixar Touch) published a story about Emma's lessons

Some of the Pixar crew, hard at work
For those who missed them first time around, here are Emma's twenty-two Lessons.  
(Note:  I was interested to see Brian McDonald's story outline method included on the list.)
  • You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  • You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
  • Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  • Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  • Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  • What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  • Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  • Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  • When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  • Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  • Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  • Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  • Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  • Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  • If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  • What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  • No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on—it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  • You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  • Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  • Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  • You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  • What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

To finish, here's The Beauty of Pixar.

First posted:  15 June 2012

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

How to Structure a Video Essay

Another offering from Tony Zhou, this time a layered explanation of how to structure a video esay, with help from Orson Welles and others.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Pixar’s Tribute to Cinema

Jorge Luengo Ruiz shows that the super-successful Pixar studio draws on cinema for some of its ideas. Interesting video, one you'll need to watch a few times to keep up.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

SuperBowl 2016 - Commercials

The Super Bowl. Yeah, it's really all about the commercials. Here's a few to sample.

Then the universal principle of unintended side effects kicks in...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Illusionist - Martin Scorsese - A Personal Journey Through American Movies

This is Part 7 of Martin Scorsese's Personal Journey Through American Movies.

Movie clips included in this video are as follows:
The Cameraman (1928) - Buster Keaton
The Birth of a Nation (1915) - D.W. Griffith
Death's Marathon (1913) - D.W. Griffith
Cabiria (1914) - Giovanni Pastrone
Intolerance (1916) - D.W. Griffith
The Ten Commandments (1923) - Cecil B. DeMille
Samson and Delilah (1949) - Cecil B. DeMille
The Ten Commandments (1956) - Cecil B. DeMille
Sunrise (1927) - F.W. Murnau
Seventh Heaven (1927) - Frank Borzage
Anna Christie (1930) - Clarence Brown
Her Man (1930) - Tony Garnett
The Big House (1930) - George Hill
Scarface (1932) - Howard Hawks
The Public Enemy (1931) - William Wellman
Leave Her to Heaven (1945) - John Stahl

Movie clips included in this video are as follows:
Johnny Guitar (1954) - Nicholas Ray
The Robe (1953) - Henry Koster - First movie in Widescreen
East of Eden (1955) - Elia Kazan
Some Came Running (1958) - Vincente Minnelli
Land of the Pharaohs (1955) - Howard Hawks
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) - Anthony Mann
Young Indian Jones Chronicles (1993) - George Lucas, Producer
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Stanley Kubric - Birth of Special Effects
Cat People (1942) - Jacques Tourneur

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Batusi

1966. Note the year. Pulp Fiction (1994) wouldn't come along for almost thirty more years. (With thanks to Brian McDonald.)