Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Emotional Journies

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Have you been keeping up with all the new films. I have NOT, but will try over the next few weeks.   Here are some some holiday catch-up notes that may be of interest....on three topics:

"Emotional Journeys"

Emotional Journeys
Creating an emotional roller coaster for your story is important because it is what your audience experiences every day in nearly every aspect of their lives.

Not only should a writer "write what he/she knows" but "write what his/her audiences knows."

As I continue to work on my own screenplays and help others with theirs, this important value was reinforced this morning when I came across this interesting image depicting "The Emotional Journey of Creating Anything Great. "

Then I came across the following emotional journey maps.

They all look pretty similar to this, don't they? 

They all looked very similar to slides from my on-line Storycraft Training module 5A and 5B on "The Evolution of Story Structure," where we explain how to create story with a great emotional roller coaster.

The point is, write what both YOU and YOUR AUDIENCE knows. 


In a fit of weakness I sat down with Pam and Netflix to watch ABC Family's 2011 TV Movie, 12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS. It's about, Kate (Amy Smart), a young woman on the rebound who, in a homage to Groundhog Day, relives a blind date on Christmas Eve 12 times before she learn to be less self-centered, turn her attention to the needs of others, and lands Miles (Mark-Paul Gosselaar).  The main plot is predictable, but the sub-plots are wonderfully creative...to say nothing of the elaborate and festive art and prop direction. What makes this movie worth a second and third look, however, is the sub-plotting of secondary characters, their goals and a number of props that have their own three beat motifs. Every time Kate relives her Christmas Eve date, she not only makes progress in her transformational arc (which gives us opportunity to see how the writer's developed it), but she meets new people, and encounters new obstructions...all of which have their own arcs and get resolved by the end. It's really an amazing piece of holiday writing...and a movie to be dissected and studied. Highly recommended.

PASSENGERS - Metaphors, Love, and Jennifer Lawrence

Pam and I also risked a very busy night at the local multiplex (Emagine Entertainment in Novi, MI) to see PASSENGERS. The parking lot was jammed, but the staff at Emagine had done a great job staggering show times, and staffing the ticket booths. Even though we were in a large 80% capacity theater, there were no long lines.

The critics that pan PASSENGERS are stupidity wrong. PASSENGERS is noteworthy on several points. But, first, in summary, it's the story of a spacecraft ferrying 5,200 or so humans to a new planet some 100 light years from earth. With all those people on board, it's fascinating that only 3 of those humans are awake and have speaking parts...Okay, 4 if you count Arthur (Michael Sheen) the robot bartender. For Moral Premise followers here are things to appreciate:

A. The big physical premise (a for profit company populating planets far from earth) is totally over the top, stupid, unbelievable, and preposterous...although the filmmakers make it seem all plausible and beautiful. We are drawn to the awe of the universe and this hi-tech spaceship on auto-pilot as its cargo hibernates for a couple hundred years, and the ship navigates on its own through asteroid fields and whips past stars for gravity assists.

B. BUT, as in many GREAT stories, THAT IS NOT WHAT THE MOVIE IS REALLY ABOUT. It IS about how love can grow and develop between a man and a woman in any situation. And THAT is the connection this story has with audiences.  Yes, the visual digital effects are stunning, the art direction and sets really amazing.  (The list of digital artists is almost longer than the movie...I challenge anyone to count them as they go by in the credits.) But PASSENGERS is a love story that suggests we are all passengers, on a sometimes lonely journey where we have a choice to make the best of our life, regardless of the odds we're handed.

C. What kept me deeply intrigued, however, was the rich metaphors about love between a man and a woman. The kernel of the idea seemed to come from the Garden of Eden and Adam longing for a mate. Eve comes along and together the two encounter great tragedies but manage to create a life together...and alone.

D. And then there is Jennifer Lawrence. She makes any film worth going to. One of the few real actresses today.

But so see it for the metaphors and to understand a bit more about what love is really all about.

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