The future is fast approaching

Caught up in an information culture.


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“No scene that doesn’t turn.  This is our ideal. We work to [shape] every scene from beginning to end by turning a [central issue of human experience] in a character’s life from the positive to the negative or the negative to the positive…  If exposition is a scene’s sole justification, a disciplined writer will trash it and weave its information into the film elsewhere.”

–Robert McKee, Story


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“[Don’t mistake] verisimilitude for truth.  [Some writers believe] that the more precise his observation of day-to-day facts, the more accurate his reportage of what actually happens, the more truth he tells.  But fact, no matter how minutely observed, is truth with a small ‘t’.  Big ‘T’ Truth is located behind, beyond, inside, below the surface of things, holding reality together or tearing it apart, and cannot be directly observed. [A writer who] sees only what is visible and factual [is] blind to the truth of life.”

–Robert McKee, Story

While he intends the warning for narrative projects, it’s also an interesting consideration for the documentary debate on objective versus interpreted reality.


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William Ulricchio on the role of the author in interactive documentary

William Ulricchio, Director of MIT's Comparative Media Studies Program

William Ulricchio, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program

Interactive storytelling, both narrative and documentary, is something I want to better understand – certainly it’s got a lot of potential for new storytelling forms and structures, and that’s pretty darned exciting, but I have some reservations.  I have difficulty with the concept of “author as collaborator with the audience”, in part because, as a consumer of stories, I chafe under the restrictions of a largely powerless collaboration – the communication is generally between audience and product, not between audience and creator, and that doesn’t result in a real co-creation experience.  That’s tremendously frustrating, a false empowerment of the viewer as storyteller.

But “author as curator”, discussed here by Ulricchio, is quite a different context for understanding interactive narrative, one I relate to better.  Pulling together the narrative strands of a curator is interaction, but not, to my mind, a form of co-creating the story – it’s an interpretive role.  (Interpretation certainly isn’t passive, or happening without the personality and thoughts of the interpreter – ask any actor – but it’s not the same process as collaborating on the story.) Continue reading