Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Are "stories" still important?
Here’s the problem with that theory (besides the fact that it’s incredibly lazy) – two minute webisodes are like pieces of candy. There’s no real nourishment, nothing really satisfying or long lasting about them. You watch, you maybe chuckle, and you move on. It’s a little novelty. You never get really invested in the characters.
And that’s the key. Once you care about a character the interest level goes way up. And you need time to create that connection between the character and the viewer.
There have been myriads of entertainment forms down through the ages – from live theater to literature to filmed works of various lengths designed for various screens. But the principle of good drama remains the same. People want to be engrossed, surprised, delighted, taken to new worlds, scared shitless, aroused, and involved. They want the subject matter to resonate, they want to maybe learn a thing or two along the way, and they want a certain amount of complexity. You can’t live on a diet of mini-Snickers bars (although I am this week directing INSTANT MOM) .
And two-minute programs may happily exist on websites, but networks, movie studios, and premium streaming delivery systems have way more time than two-minute blips to fill.
We live in a world where audiences watch two-minute shows and binge-watch others for six hours at a time. People binge-watch because they want to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. That's the result of story.
Like I ranted about yesterday in my MAN FROM UNCLE pan, good drama is storytelling and the foundation of storytelling has not changed in thousands of years. Like I said, it’s a bitch to break stories. You hit roadblocks, you wrestle with logic, you fight the temptation to do something familiar or clichéd, you search for ways to hide exposition, you constantly question whether the stakes are high enough, the turns are surprising enough, and whether you’ve chosen the correct length to tell the story. And if it’s a comedy, how to do all that and still have the show be funny. Yes, it’s a tall order.
But it’s worth it.
Webisodes are the new thing, yet there’s still room for classic dramatic structure – or, as the ancient Greeks used to call it – old school.