For years, my friends in Hollywood and I have had one main gripe at every meeting, lunch, dinner and party: Hollywood-based storytelling is broken, irrevocably broken, and the whole system needs to be rethought or the incidences of good movies at the theaters will continue to be more and more rare.
The remote problem is that with the general loss of philosophy and, so ethics, in the society, we have also lost the sense of the artist/storyteller’s true nature in the heart of the human society. Aristotle’s plea that peaceful and productive societies need a certain kind of storytelling has faded almost completely in the professional storytelling arena. The proximate problem is that the people making movies are mainly thinking about minimizing financial risk, and not thinking at all about serving the heart of their story. You could probably only find a handful of folks who labor in the film industry who have even read The Poetics or understood any of essential aspects of transformational story and character relatability. Things are very bad when the journey of a story is not dictated by the psychology of character, but rather by the production company’s bottom line.
We need a new generation of writers and producers to craft a new brand of story that will let the formulaic post-Sexual Revolution blockbuster finally die along with the Boomers who shoved it down all our throats all these years. It’s time to get back to crafting beautiful, powerful stories that will be experienced by the audience, not just watched. That is, a great story becomes an experience for a viewer, something they learn from the way they learn from the experience of their own choices. Knowing how to get a movie from being something you watch to something you journey is a matter of reclaiming craft.
I founded Catharsis: The Story Lab to foment a Renaissance in screen storytelling. As our first official event, we’re putting together a weekend conference for serious writers who want to brood over the nature of truly transformational stories and how they should be crafted. This isn’t a beginning screenwriting weekend; it’s going to narrow in on the elements that make a movie really work in the imagination and heart of viewers. We’re going to talk Aristotle, and Flannery O’Connor, and celebrate Up, and explain why Lincoln failed with the general audience. We will be recording the whole event for people who can’t make it, but if you care about these things at all, and enjoy the company of like-minded writers, you should try to attend if you can. It’s really affordable (on purpose) and in a beautiful resort (even if it is MN in coldish March).
Click here for more.
You know you want to be there.