Lessons I've learned as a storyteller and leader of creative teams. if someone says it better than me, you'll find that here as well.
Recently, I discovered Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan on Netflix. We lost Harryhausen this year. If you are not familiar with his work, be sure to watch the tribute above from Film School Rejects.
I have long been a Harryhausen fan and have seen many shorts that touch on his work, but Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is different. The story moves between Harryhausen discussing the evolution of his career and modern filmmakers discussing his influence on their own work; including Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Stephen Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Nick Park, Dennis Murren and Phil Tippet among others.
Woven into this homage is a very interesting look into Harryhausen’s creative process. He and his father built all of the armatures and models in his home studio. And, his in-camera compositing techniques broke new ground in the field and served as a model for software like Adobe After Effects.
Whether a photographer or filmmaker, you owe it to yourself to find and watch this film. It has given me an idea for one cool photo project. Maybe it will do the same for you.
PS: The Harryhausen family is raising funds to preserve his work, including many of his original models. Find out more about The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation.
This event really showcases Google Hangouts and how they are changing the way celebrities and their fans interact. There are lots of fun bits for fans. The hangout is also a great example of interactive promotion of a film or other media project, but that is a topic for another day.
Posted above, the entire video is worth watching. But, I’d like to draw your attention to two specific segments which I think should prove valuable to storytellers of every stripe.
First, Peter Jackson discusses the value of framing combat sequences, particularly long ones, so they hold the viewer’s attention by advancing the stories of the central characters. I take this as in important all-around lesson in scripting, storyboarding and blocking action sequences.
Jump to this segment here.
The second piece of interested is cued up below. In this bit, Jackson and Armitage discuss the development of Thorin Oakenshield for the screen. Not an easy character to like or understand in Tolkien’s novel, Armitage’s process for developing a relatable, accessible Thorin is interesting.
Jump to this segment here.
Today, I relaunch my website with a new focus. I am a storyteller. It has taken a while for me to really own that title. Lots of twists, turns and blind alleys, but I am finally there. Have I arrived? Am I finished?
No. Far from it.
My training … in school, in martial arts, in business and in media production … has taught me that no person of skill is every really finished. They are always looking for ways to do things better, which generally means simpler, with less steps and more refinement. It means saying “no” to distractions and saying “yes” to real opportunities. It means embracing craft, and not just work.
The speech above, Steve Jobs addressing the 2005 graduates of Stanford, speaks to all of this and so much more. Like many storytellers, Jobs was an inspiration to me and remains so. Don’t think of him as a storyteller? Watch any of his Apple keynotes. He is telling stories.
For now, my website primarily contains my blog, which is full of stories. Some stories are by others, mostly in the form of curated reviews, how-tos and best practices for both those behind and in front of the camera. Over time, more and more of the stories will be mine, as I begin producing original content for this site and others.
Eventually, the blog will move from the home page; replaced by my photo portfolio, video reel and bibliography. As the “story” of my craft, each is undergoing a thorough review/update. I plan to have them up in early 2014.
The blog will remain, as will the stories. And, with perseverance, the craft.