Telling the Story with the DSLR

The sub-title should read…”or with any camera for that matter”.  For those of you not new to this blog, you know that my mantra is “it’s not about the tool”.  And my other mantra is “embrace collaboration”.

But back to the thought behind this blog entry and that is “telling the story”.  I recently read a great book that a dear friend had given me about screenwriting called “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. Snyder’s book is geared more toward writing a fictional screenplay, as opposed to writing a narrative for a documentary, but I thought it would be helpful for me as far as learning more about the dynamics of story telling – and indeed it was.

Snyder talks about the different genres that most movies fall into.  The category that my documentary came closest to if I was writing a fictional piece was what he referred to as The Golden Fleece. Blake writes:

“The name comes from the myth of Jason and the Argonauts and yet it’s always about the same thing: A hero goes “on the road” in search of one thing and winds up discovering something else – himself.”

“Like the twists of any story, the milestones of The Golden Fleece are the people and incidents that our hero or heroes encounter along the way.  The theme of every Golden Fleece movie is internal growth, how the incidents affect the hero is, in fact, the plot.

“It’s not the mileage we’re racking up that makes a good Golden Fleece, it’s the way the hero changes as he goes”.

Wow, I thought as Snyder’s words resonated with me and how I “saw” the documentary that I was in the midst of editing.  In my case, I had many heroes who in setting out to make a positive difference in the world had also experienced intense and rewarding personal growth.  I too had changed and grown, along with my daughter who journeyed with me to tell our subjects’ stories.

As I read more of Snyder’s book, my vision of our film became much clearer in my head.  This week, I had a meeting with the editor who will be collaborating with me on this film.  I’m thankful that I was able to have a face to face meeting with him where we could both get a better feel for each other and more importantly  – the story.  We had a wonderful conversation about the story that I wanted to tell – the heroes – the conflicts – all those things that are part of a good story.  I knew we were on the same page when he said: “It’s not about the trip – it’s about the journey”.

Or as Snyder writes:
“It’s not the incidents encountered.  It’s what the hero(es) learn about himself from the incidents that make the story work.”

We’ll see if I can do my heroes justice in telling their stories, but I’m not alone in this task.  I’ll be collaborating with an editor who not only has an understanding of “the story” but the skills and ability to make it come to life. What joy.

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