A Note About Storytelling

26 Apr

Yesterday I applied for Project:Involve, Film Independent’s “signature diversity program, dedicated to increasing diversity in the film industry by cultivating the careers of under-represented filmmakers.”

In my letter of intent, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the role of story in narrative filmmaking.  It differentiates me from most filmmakers, hence, something that must be taken into consideration in my application.

Here is what I wrote:

A note about storytelling: I do not believe cinema is primarily a vehicle to tell stories.  Story is simply a formalistic choice the film artist may or may not utilize.  Though I consider myself a “narrative filmmaker,” my passion is not to tell stories per se.  In fact, I rarely begin with a story idea then contrive characters and conflict accordingly.  Rather, I prefer to explore social, spiritual and personal issues first.  At times, couching such issues within a complex story works best, and at other times, it may not.  Whereas every narrative film invariably has a plot, there may not be much of a story to tell.  Again, the difference lies in the artist’s object.  I feel American cinema has been stifled by storytelling as default.  Most filmmakers call themselves storytellers without realizing they have pigeonholed themselves within one of infinite forms.  In fact, many narrative filmmakers cannot articulate the difference between story and plot.  It is my hope that Project:Involve embraces all forms of cinema within the narrative film tradition.


4 Responses to “A Note About Storytelling”

  1. Sajib April 26, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    I understand the post, but I totally missed what you meant in the first paragraph (probably because I’m blind when it comes to film-making and everything related to it). Could you explain?

    • Christopher April 27, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      Hey, Sajib. Project:Involve is a program to help filmmakers and to be accepted into the program, one must apply with an application. The quote in my post, is a portion of my application where I discuss my thoughts on story!

      Thanks for asking :)


      • zxcvb May 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

        Amen, Chris. It’s silly how most film people — whether they’re in the industry or running festivals — conflate filmmaking and storytelling. To them, a film is only successful if it “tells a story.” They just don’t understand the specifics of the medium — to paraphrase Bresson, it’s “a writing with images in movement and with sound.”

        Good luck with your film, Chris. As a like-minded guy (from what I can tell) who failed to crack the festival circuit with his narrative-in-name-only film, I hope you fare better with your project!

      • Christopher May 11, 2011 at 11:01 am #

        Thank you for the comment and encouragement. My current project, Girlfriend 19, actually has a pretty good dose of story, though very little comparatively, so I may have a chance with fests.

        And I love your Bresson quote – he’s one of my greatest inspirations!

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