Saturday, November 22, 2014

Character-based screen stories are always subject to – and not uncommonly subverted by – the needs and fears of those whose job it is to tell them, namely, screenwriters, directors, producers, and others, and whose extra-narrative agendas often unconsciously work to confound or distort the story and story-finding process in ways that trivialise the emotional energies that might otherwise encourage, motivate and empower the characters. There are no handy methods or sure-fire techniques for dealing with of neutralising these destructive fears and anxieties. Indeed, the application of method can become an insidious strategy for disguising and maintaining the fear, and if allowed to operate unchecked and uncriticised will constantly stand between the storyteller and the story that is seeking to get itself told.


To operate as a medium for character and story is not so much a matter of what the storyteller does as what the storyteller doesn't do. It is akin to the Chinese idea of wu-wei (non-action), a concept that denotes effortlessness, spontaneity, or what Chuang Tzu refers to as “flowing”. Every well-told story flows. Every event, every action, moves the story forward, naturally, in a kind of karmic dance. The art of flowing, as applied to drama, requires that the writer get out of the way. One becomes “empty”, unobtrusive, so that the characters can become whatever the characters are, so that that which is yet-to-be can come into being, allowed to birth itself through the agency of the storyteller-made-medium. Indeed, one might say that unless a story is birthed in this manner it can have no lasting raison d’ĂȘtre, and as such, cannot endure.


Film school - where you spend your days questioning your intelligence and your nights rethinking your mental health.


The time in which we are now living is wanting the stories and storytellers that can penetrate the cynicism, the despair, that can explode them, and present alternatives to how we might live, how we might build the courage necessary to heal our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies. The stories we tell now will determine whether we live or die - dramatic stories always tread that boundary-line one way or another. We need stories that help us imagine the practicality of hope and the necessity of acting out of love for one another. We need writers that remember freedom – poets, visionaries, realists of a larger reality.
Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of Art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible story-telling and story-finding. Build courage, or die.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Beliefs are abbreviations of meaning - matrices of boiled down facts, desires, anxieties & scraps of evidence upon which we are prepared to ACT. In the case of dramatic stories and screenplays, the situations of the characters also reflect their beliefs and the actions they’ve taken as a result of these beliefs, even when the actions are purely ironic or deceitful. As such, whatever meaning we - as audience - derive from a story-experience depends largely upon whether or not we are able to make the connection between what a character DOES and what a character BELIEVES and vice versa. What are the beliefs that inform the actions of your characters? What do they believe about themselves? What do they believe about their world? And what does the world think of them? Your story may be bold and unexpected or trite and formulistic, but unless the characters ACT - and unless we can grasp the connection between what they do and what they believe - the story may struggle to create any meaning at all. Having said this, and assuming that you have indeed made those connections, you have to ask is the meaning significant or trivial? The answer to this question isn’t so much about whether you’ve made those connections between thought and action, but more about whether the characters are engaged in actions that thoroughly challenge and provoke your own habits of thought (beliefs).