The old writing desk around midnight … (a decent bottle of red with the Dark Horse wine)
We are in a new age of SmartFilms made on smartphones with powerful new filmmaking apps. Just as the history of movies changed from silent to sound, the current world is ripe for a new type of filmmaker. It is as ready for a new type of filmmaker as it is ready for a new type of President. The establishment has been in control for so long. Certainly one way they maintain their control is control over technology. And control over standard scripts that come into the system.
Movies today are increasingly viewed on sites like YouTube or Vimeo on the web, apart from the video postings to social sites. All who have the increasingly more powerful smartphones hold in their hands a command of technology that Hollywood studios in the early years could only dream of. And, there are increasingly smart apps for this growing market with apps like the incredible FilmiC. For a ten-dollar charge, one can carry around a virtual film studio on their smartphone.
I’m not talking about the best short films in the world out there right now. Or, at least the ones we reward with Oscars each year. The best shorts for the year. I watched all of them recently. All nominations for the 2016 Oscars and thought them all interesting in that they were telling stories about moments in lives rather sequences of lives, as Hollywood features do. I thought they were all interested, except for the animated ones. These films usually bore me.
All were from foreigners. All about strange, unknown lands. War zones around the world. Strange moments of encounter.
I feel that revealing moments of lives rather than telling about sequences in lives is a new type of storytelling that threatens to replace the current storytelling in terms of a period of time rather than a moment in time (like the new short films I am suggesting should attempt to reveal). The models for these new types of films I don’t think are within those the Academy has nominated for Best Shorts but rather the shorts of future directors posted on sites like Vimeo.
I’m thinking about the Director of the recent film 10 Cloverfield Lane, Dan Trachtenberg, a filmmaker and video podcast host. Trachtenberg was one of three hosts of The Totally Rad Show and a former co-host of Geekdrome. Both programs were hosted at Revision3. Trachtenberg is the director of the 2011 short film Portal: No Escape and the director of various television commercials and public service announcements. The Portal is a brilliant short film that really suggests the type of new film story I am talking about here. Maybe to discover a new art one has to look at the first works of the great directors today when they were forced to make short statements to raise money for their larger visions.
The desk is getting cluttered …
It seems like the time to combine my ideas on symbolism with that current discipline called variously cinematographer, set designer, art director, the background medium (rather than the messages of communication) in our culture. And centering on my long-term research into symbolism. My ideas of symbolism were first expressed in Symbolism of Place written in 1993 evidencing an influence of both Carl Jung and Marshall McLuhan on my thinking. The four hundred page manuscripts received three fantastic letters, all “no thank yous but please stay in contact with us” letters. A wonderful letter from the head of the old publishing firm of FS & G on my manuscript. After a few more letters, I decided simply to post it up on my symbolism website (www.symbolism.org) like I have done with most of my other early writings on symbolism. It seemed like the best thing to do. I have been onto other projects since then. Many, I might suggest, experiments of the ideas first developed in the manuscript The Symbolism of Place.
For some reason, I pulled off my big bookshelf of film writing books, a book I had bought maybe four years ago, always intending to look at, but never having done so in four years. It sat at the bottom of a book box in a larger box inside my storage pod out in Palm Desert, California. Along with all my film and music equipment. I opened it up to a section and started reading. I then went to another section of the book. And then another. It seemed apparent that I had discovered the same book I had written so long ago. In a slightly different genre one might say. Yet as I read The Visual Story by Bruce Block (now the Eisenstein Chair Professor in the USC Film School). Perhaps one of the leading academic, yet technical practitioners who has ever attempted to put the rules of cinematography in a book.
My major reaction to this incredible book is to outline it and then (attempt to) consolidate with a book I ordered on Amazon today (since the Columbus Metropolitan Library had never heard of it) called Cinematography, 2nd by Blain Brown, the definitive guide to cinematography today. With these books, I’m also reading The Filmmakers Eye by Gustavo Mercado.
Finally, I need to mix all of this together into a new type of story form with my ideas on symbolism expressed in my Symbolism of Place (and further works such as Battle of Symbols, published by Daemon Verlag, Zurich, 2003) called forth in our new age of social media and the Internet. No longer the old form of a screenplay. And perhaps importantly but not stated so much, perhaps “No longer the continued control over script size by the old establishment of Hollywood.” Perhaps the statement of many screenwriters out there. Why do we have to create to your standard of 120 page stories that take place within movie theaters? Yet, many writers today can’t buy into this particular story length in the age of Twitter and Instagram. It’s a new era of storytelling. New in many ways yet new in length, perhaps one of the biggest. No longer can Hollywood hold hostage the rights to the content of 120-minute feature film format today. Accepted in locks step by the Academy it seems to me.
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How different is the Hollywood establishment to the establishment in Washington, one has to ask. There doesn’t seem to be much difference it seems to me. I wonder if this is true in the world of the content of length of narratives. Does Hollywood have a “lock hold” on a particular length of film? Not genre of the film for there would always be battles between film messages for segments of the populace. No, rather the particular length of this media called modern films. And of course its relationship to story structure and the time things have to run today. Across the screen of a shartphone when someone is on the bus home. Illegally watching a smartphone video while stuck in LA traffic.
A new form of story. A new length for stories. And stories appear on the Internet created with smart apps on the smartphones. The smartphones that almost everyone carries today. Might there be a new script and length for stories told on the Internet with is yet to be controlled by the establishment of Hollywood.
So I continue to slowly tread through The Visual Story, this brilliant thesis and textbook on cinematography today. With a particular awe yet a realization that it confirms so much that I wrote with my book Symbolism of Place. Confirms it in a new way. I wait to read the book Cinematography, second edition, I ordered.
The old hope is to combine all of this into a type of modern Smart Script to go with Smart Films. There will be a great need for this type of script in the near future, it seems to me. We’ll post our progress on this in future posts.