MTD1Notes11 15 06

esse quam videri
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Comment on paper writing:

The readings should be more important – even central – to the subject written about in the paper. For example, in writing about media and violence, one could refer to the formulaic nature of news stories (a la Propp, Radway) or their value as catharsis (a la Aristotle).

The papers are not simply a forum for you to express an opinion, but are meant to challenge you to demonstrate that you have thought about the phenomenon you’re discussing in relationship to the readings. You should construct a relationship between your opinion (which may even be changed by the reading ) and your study of a media object). It should be your INFORMED opinion.

For the next project, think about these things: -Try to create an unconventional narrative -Think about certain images in a sequence and how they can bring up new ideas. -We viewed “As American as Apple Pie” in class. This piece shows how depending on the sequence of images or events you get a different story. The story can be optimistic or pessimistic depending on the sequence.


Narrative Structure

"Indeed, it has been argued that the nature of reality itself as experienced by humans and human cultures is an emergent effect of narrative interactions.” Jerome Bruner We structure the world in terms of stories or sequence of images.

Jerome Bruner - one of the founders of cognitive psychology it is in the constructing of stories and myths, and listening to those of others, that we deal with experience and create a deal of our reality. Plots that have a beginning, middle and end provide us with frameworks that contextualise the information we are processing.

This lecture is biased towards stories for the screen as opposed to novels or short stories.

Aristotle - Poetics Storytelling is imitation/representation (mimesis) Requires: Medium (means of imitation) language (theater, poetry, novel) visual art (painting/drawing/sculpture) film, animation Object of imitation (character, situation) Mode - how imitated - through narration: the strategy of storytelling diegetic - telling in his own person (dear reader) in the third person - speaking as a character mimetic- showing : “present all characters as living and moving before us” -things happen without them having to be explained in words

Storytelling is not literally mimesis - representing everything exactly as it happens would be boring. It is interpretation of life filtered through imagination.

Each medium has its own vocabulary Theatrical presentation involves sets and established scenic space In film, presentation involves construction of the sensation of a coherent space and time through camera shots and angles, and editing Shots are also part of STYLE, which give us a perspective on the story MODE - strategy for telling

Greeks had 3 broad classifications:

Poetic or lyric -- narrator speaks in first person

Epic or narrative - narrator speaks in his own voice but allows characters to speak in theirs

Drama - characters do all the talking

WHO IS SPEAKING, WHO ARE THEY SPEAKING AS, WHO ARE THEY SPEAKING TO? Frequently these are interwoven in drama/film. 1. Michael Moore in Farenheit 9/11; Morgan Spurlock, Supersize Me 2. Wm. Wordsworth: I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd A host of golden daffodils. 2. Henry Fonda as Clarence Darrow (famous Chgo. criminal lawyer) - speaking as “I” but the “I” is a character; Woody Allen - speaks in “direct address” in the middle of a film (presumably not just the I of the character, but of the writer/director as well) Annie Hall, waiting in line for a film scene; Shawshank Redemption - narration by one of the characters 3.Most films and plays respect the 4th wall - maintain the illusion of reality, unlike Bertolt Brecht who broke with dramatic tradition and purposely called attention to the artifice of the drama.

Narrative (story)

Sequence of events told from a point of view • Narrator (person whose point of view is used) :actual narrator or main character • Story (sequence of events that happened) • Plot (sequence in which the events are given) • Characters w/goals, relationships, etc. Conflicts

Show “The Prisoner” intro  :2:20 exposition through images (we come to learn about the situation), then contextualization (where are we, what is the situation), resolution (he’s overcome by fumes of drug)

-Whose POV is the sequence from the only character available - What is the story? (an extremely cool man - how do we know he is cool? - resigns from his position ) - What is the plot? (how do you get the story information) - Who are the characters? (cool guy and his boss at desk and boss’ representative in black car, frock coat & top hat) - What are their goals? Relationship? Conflicts? What is the symbolic importance of the storm that we see and hear?

Plot: requires transformation Initial situation Change involving reversal Resolution

Mere sequence of events not sufficient -we need more to keep us engaged -life is a sequence of events but it needs to be synthesized to create art

Must have ending that relates back to beginning -most stories begin with a question which is answered in the end Advice from screenwriters: Begin with an event; in the middle of something Tell story in terms of action (rather than description)

3 Act Structure

1. Beginning Situation is introduced

2. Middle Complications/ Conflict

3. End Conclusion, resolution, epilogue Each act (full length screenplay) comes to point of highest tension, relents somewhat, begins to build again, etc.

How does it apply to Run Lola Run?

Example of structure “Check, Please” Phil Dornfeld

• Introduction to situation • Introduction to main character(s) • Character’s motivation • Development (surprise) • Reversal (s) • Obstacles, complications • Progress • Turning point • Resolution • Series of Questions/Answers

Show “Check Please”, Phil Dornfeld • Introduction to situation -- shot of kitchen, waitress coming out, dolly back to show busy restaurant, customers • Introduction to main character(s) - finally come to shot of protag, only one so far w/ his own shot; she is introduced later with slo mo • Character’s motivation - shots of him looking at happy couples; “satisfaction” on menu • Development (surprise) -- she gives him her phone # • Reversal (s) -- he can’t bring himself to talk to her, he throws away but recovers her phone # • Obstacles, complications -- his negative fantasies • Progress -- positive fantasy, he goes to her apt. • Turning point -- she’s not there, he leaves (or maybe it’s the pos. fantasy that is the real turning point) • Resolution -- final surprise, positive outcome, they dance

• Who is the antagonist? (his own fear)

• Questions/Answers: • Will he ever get up the nerve to talk to her • Is she really a nice person

Character driven low concept, horizontal

Plot driven high concept, vertical

Character driven: Driving Miss Daisy; Shawshank Redemption; Forrest Gump; Dog Day Afternoon

Plot driven: Jurassic Park (although Dr. Grant does undergo transformation); Indiana Jones; Sin City


Hero/protagonist needs a goal, a motivation, even an obsession

Villain/antagonist also needs motivation (greed or power are good, revenge, too)

Qualifications for both are pretty similar Sometimes someone is both (Charles Foster Kane) What was the main character in Memento (hero or villain)? What about Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill? Sin City - delineates heroes and villains pretty clearly

Genre - set of conventions

What kind of story is told, how, and by whom

Detective Western Melodrama Action/Adventure Fantasy Romantic Comedy Drama

Detective/Mystery (Sin City)

Film Noir - high contrast lighting Nighttime scenes; gritty, urban Stereotypical characters strong/smart man sexy woman uninflected antagonist “Who done it” plot lots of violence puzzles to solve good guy usually wins, or at least the bad guy loses

Time: Story time and screen time

Screen time (feature): 90-120 min. typically

Story time: varies Rope: unfolds in real time Story time = screen time (running time) Also High Noon Memento:  ???? Years? Months? Citizen Kane: Weeks? But including flash backs, a lifetime (telescoped time) Rashomon: (gate {trial [forest events] } ) Where do you get your ideas?

Rabiger: Dream journal News file Writer’s journal w/ notes on: Character Locations Objects Situations Actions Themes

Lew Hunter: Library Magazines Newspapers Biographies Classics Conversations (yours and overheard) Experience Arena (the world of …) Issues History Fantasies Fears What if Love Stories Revenge Stories Concepts (capital punishment)

Instant story Divide into groups of 4 (one may have 5) Elect a secretary to take notes and report back to the class Need a volunteer to pick cards, please 1 location, 1 object, 2 characters You have 10 minutes to improvise collaboratively a story/scene that brings together these elements. Secretaries take notes and describe the scenes that their group made up when the class reconvenes

1. In which stories did the given characters particularly come alive, and why? 2. In which stories was there some kind of conflict, something for a main character to push against? 3. Which stories came to a satisfactory conclusion, or resolution? 4. Which stories or parts of stories were fresh and managed to avoid stereotypes? 5. Which story most left you wondering “what happens next?”

--Choose one of the images given (Brueghel the elder)

--think about what story it tells

--think about how you want to tell that story

--excerpt a series of 5-10 “shots” from the larger image

--sequence these in a way that tells your story