The Holy Trinity of Storytelling
The Holy of holy trinities for filmmakers and storytellers of every kind is the concepts of Story, Character and Context and how they work together in your narrative to create a story that captivates and entertains an audience or sees them playing MST3K the home edition, talking mad shit about your shit.
The first, last and most important thing anyone in film needs to understand is the relationship between context and character as it applies to the story. Producers, Directors, Writers, Actors, Costume Designers, Set Designers, Special Effects Creators and everyone else needs to understand these concepts for a film to become something that marvels audiences for decades. To even have a chance at creating something that reaches in and takes the emotional investment that audience feels is an art form.
The films we associate with greatness are the ones that get that emotional investment from us in some way, form or fashion that makes it unforgettable and leaves a lasting imprint on our very soul. It could be a great Comedy or a great Horror or a great Scifi film that left us emotionally connected to the experience caught forever in time by the magic of movies.
Storytelling is an art form not a business model. This is why right now one of my favorite known directors is Christopher Nolan. All his work has an artistry to it that shows a mastery of context and character and how to create stories I can’t forget.
As for one of my all time favorite directors, you have probably never heard of.
I met Dom Portalla over 8 years ago when I had first started using the name The Movie Whore and one of his actors approached me. Dom had finished his first feature length film, DUALITY. Ken, the actor who played dual roles in the film as twin brothers asked me for some notes on the film. I didn’t write a critics review. I wrote a critique on technique and art. I watched the movie two or thee times to make sure I had everything that would be beneficial to the filmmaker while noting the stuff done well. In this case I had discovered a man with an eye behind the camera like few others in history, a true artist with a true gift for visual storytelling.
We’ve lost touch over the years however I know Dom is out there somewhere right now either shooting something or working on shooting something. It’s in his blood and who he is and he could never find happiness in life doing anything else. That’s what it takes to become a great filmmaker.
You make movies because you can’t imagine doing anything else and being happy. It’s why I edit scripts and take on other Creative Producer work as it comes. A Creative Producer is your Quality assurance person who protects the quality and integrity of the art while being able to translate it to a financially viable result.
Too often too much of the art is lost in favor of the business and the formula that is the reason why I stopped watching and have seen very little that Hollywood has offered up over the last several years.
OK asshole what in the blue holy fuck is all this story and context shit?
Take a moment and look at your life as a movie right now as you are reading this. Your character is reading some blog piece, why?
What is it about you that it makes sense that you are sitting here reading this right now?
How did your character get to this point in your story?
Character and identity are one in the same as it applies to storytelling. Somewhere in your life along the way you made an emotional connection to something and that became part of how you explain who you are to people through the things in life you love. These are the things that define who we think we are and who create our character to be while God, The Universe, whatever helps you sleep better at night fills in the rest so our character can have an ongoing story.
If you love Rock ‘N’ Roll it’s not likely you are going to meet very many people who don’t and be able to connect with them and their story that is their life.
That is context.
What makes sense for this character based on who this character is. It makes little sense for someone who is afraid of ever doing anything on their own to ever find the opportunity to do it without being afraid. The idea in their own mind will always produce the same option until the fear is overridden and resolved so now it makes sense for the character to do things on their own. They no longer fear it.
A film is often a showing of character refining or revealing moments in the characters life. There is someone deep within all of us that is who is revealed to us through experience. Our character is always in a state of evolution as we make choices to either keep our character similar because we like the story/life we are living or we make the choice to make changes in us to change our story/life.
My life dedicated to film has revealed more for me in understanding the character I am by looking at the characters I love. Here’s why.
Rocky Balboa was a guy who didn’t even think he was that good but went for it and took it seriously when given the opportunity and then was given a second shot and became the champ. He had a little old man in his corner to bring it out of him when he didn’t see it in himself.
Andy Dufresne was a man thrown in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and he never let it break him. He found a way to win his freedom and even set it up to meet up with his best friend at the end.
Jon Critchon was shot to other side of the universe and hunted for the knowledge in his head that could create the ultimate weapon. Jon always did exactly what he felt was the right thing in the moment for what was going on around him. He agonized over decisions with a humanness that made him a hero.
Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan said “Be excellent to each other.” What a great way to live.
What does it mean, really, to be excellent to each other?
What does excellence from you look like when you step outside yourself?
Lloyd Dobler was into something new he felt was the future in kick boxing. He was tirelessly dedicated to it. He also had the balls to stand outside with that boom box.
Blake Gardner had and audience he talked to and he referred to people in his life as “Sidekick” “Love interest” and “Nefarious Character.” As a Medium I have a sense of the other-side that is very much aware of us and watches us. If you ever feel like some unseen audience is laughing, it probably is. God is the ultimate stalker and ever present, everywhere and sees every little thing we ever do and there is no way to hide.
What God saw us do is between us and God to work out.
James T Kirk is a fictional character. William Shatner is an actor who plays James Kirk.
However my favorite totally ridiculous thought when it comes to Star Trek and William Shatner is this.
What if he really is James Tiberius Kirk traveled back in time and he secretly worked with Gene to create Star Trek to plant the seed of a brighter future for our world or all would be lost?
There are Star Trek fans out there who will read that and think that narrative has possibility.
Kirk did one thing really well, he listened to the people he trusted first and then made a decision. He acknowledged the weight that rested on his shoulders and let it be what chilled him out and focused him to find the best of all possible solutions.
What you allow to be sown within you is what you and the rest of us will reap from you.
Choose your films carefully as you do as the door mouse said and feed your head. Thank you to Jefferson Airplane for a lyric that reminds everything we take in, is what we feed our head.
Feed yourself well and it will come out in your projection of self and the way you define who your character is in this movie we call life. The reflections of yourself you see in others is what will tell you if you like yourself or not. To change any story you must first make changes in the character who is living that story or it’s nothing more than an out of context fantasy.
Originally published here back in September. https://themoviewhoreresurrected.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/story-character-and-context/