Week 1 - Storytelling
January 6 - Introduction
🔒January 7 - Why we like stories
🔒January 8 - Why we tell stories
🔒January 9 - Your perspective
🔒January 10 - Worlds/Characters
🔒January 11 - Responsibilities
🔒 Week 2
🔒 Week 4
🔒 Week 5
🔒 Week 6
🔒 Week 7
🔒 Week 8
🔒 Week 9
🔒 Week 10
🔒 Week 11
🔒 Week 12
Hour 1-48 | Meet and Greet
Don't worry. We aren't diving into the deep end yet. You will have all weekend to let it sink in and to mull over it. Hopefully by then you will have come to grips with the fact that this isn't a dream, you definitely did sign yourself up to make a series. But don't worry, it will be fun. Now let's get started! Slowly...
To start off I have a real treat for you. Back when I was at art school I had to make a "résumé" (it's a demo reel). It's old...and hard for me to watch without laughing, but I thought it be a nice ice-breaker. Once you watch it you'll see that I'm defiantly still learning things as I go.
Today we will take things slow and just get to know each other a little bit. After all, we are in this together now.
So, who am I? Great question. I'm a son, by birth and re-birth. I am a creator, by virtue that I create stuff . And I am a storyteller.
MY STORY -
I grew up in the "best of places" as I like to say, a small town in Tennessee. Even though I was born in Mississippi and that is where most of my family still lives, I have always considered Tennessee my home.
I first began working with storytelling as a child of 9 when my siblings and I turned our treehouse into an imaginary TV station. That same year I received a super 8 video camera for Christmas (I know, I'm old), for me, unwrapping that camera was the beginning of what the world knows now has 'Storytellers'. For the next 3 years I shot short films with my siblings and then would show them to my family and start shooting another film. Those 3 years are a time that I recall as "the prologue of life's story". However, as all prologues should, mine came to an end, and that is where the real story began.
2009: I am shooting another film with my siblings when, to put it in my words "that moment of truth hit". I realized that filmmaking was fun, but storytelling was what I loved. This is when I approached my family about making a feature-length film.
I wanted to make something longer with a larger story than that of the 5 minute films we had been making. I wanted a film with a long enough run time that it could give my storytelling a good exercise. It doesn't take a great storyteller to keep an audience interested for 2 minutes. YouTube has proven that. 95 minutes though, well, that's a completely different story.
I spent a year at age 12 developing the story and script for what would soon become my first feature film, Beyond Under. For another year I worked on the production and post-production for Beyond Under, and in May of 2011 it premiered to a modest crowd of around 100 people. That was the first day members of the open public were able to see a piece for 'The Master's Story', although no one knew it...not even I did.
It wasn't until that summer (the summer of 2011) that the idea of a connected story line first occurred to me. I was in a youth church van with my best friend, Riley, when suddenly we passed by a road entitled 'Knighthood LN'. Without hesitation Riley and I decided that Knighthood was the title for a Beyond Under sequels. By the time we got off that church van the entire 4 part Knighthood story had been outlined.
That church van ride was the moment of truth for me, for by the end of that summer I had taken the idea of a sequel and ran so far with it that I ended up creating the first 2 chapters of what would soon be known as 'The Master's Story', which is now one of the world's largest transmedia series.
Over the years I have worked on many projects (including books, films, audio, live theater, etc.) but if we are being honest, I still have no idea what I am doing. I live life flying by the seat of my pants. Just rolling with the punches. And taking each adventure God calls me to one day at a time.
Now that we know each other a little bit, I think we are ready for next week when we can jump in and do this thing.
Remember, the goal of this next week is to get you thinking of yourself as a storyteller, not to create your story. As you'll discover, telling stories can be challenging, so let's not burn out in the first week. Also, how about a bit of advice and encouragement before we part ways for the weekend?
Now, I can't take credit for this... but, my art teacher pointed out something to me in my drawings once. She pointed out specifically that I could see all these marks that I left when I was sketching that were not part of the final drawing. These were the errors. They were the lines where I was searching for the right mark and then when I found the right line to draw (that looked perfect) I made it darker...but you could still see the test lines (where I was experimenting). See I didn't have to erase the test lines, they were part of the search. And that's okay, it's actually part of the process. Your eraser should be used to draw, not to get rid of something, because if you're messing up, then at least you're sure that you're actually making progress to something that can be better than what you started with.
It's okay that your idea isn't perfect right out of the gate. Playing with ideas is just about identifying, is there something here emotionally that is drawing you to it and if there is, then there's something there for you to just keep working on. But always remember what was that initial feeling that drew you to that idea.
Ideas, when you first come up with them, are kind of more like notions. It's kinda like "what if 'fill in the blank'?" And then, the way you get to a solid actionable idea is by stitting down and just keep working on it and every time you do a version of it, every time you do a pass on it, you get closer to the idea.
It's a lot of hard work and it takes trial and error to get that story right, because one thing that may affect you, is not necessarily going to speak to somebody else and that's where figuring out the best way to get an audience out of their head (where they are intellectualizing the "what if's" you're giving them) to a place of feeling it and getting in touch with their emotions so that they're invested in what's happening to the characters.
The good news is that if you love it, if you like telling stories, if you like communicating, you won't wanna stop, that's the great part. And even if it feels like you're not making progress, if you keep trying you'll start to see a stack of papers that have your words on them and that's going to feel really impressive, because you're making progress. So you gotta keep practicing, it's as simple as that. There's no easy way out.
This weekend spend some time processing what it means to be a storyteller. Because it's a big responsibility. And next week we are going to start looking at why.
Oh yeah, feel free to say "hi" and introduce yourself in the comments.