Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Death of the Story?

We've often said that videojournalists have much to learn from Hollywood when it comes to storytelling and creating dramatic narrative arcs.

But now it seems that even Hollywood is beginning to lose its way, according to this New York Times report about a new MIT Media Lab project called The Center for Future Storytelling.

The center is envisioned as a “labette,” a little laboratory, that will examine whether the old way of telling stories — particularly those delivered to the millions on screen, with a beginning, a middle and an end — is in serious trouble.

Its mission is not small. “The idea, as we move forward with 21st-century storytelling, is to try to keep meaning alive,” said David Kirkpatrick, a founder of the new venture.

Once president of the Paramount Pictures motion picture group, Mr. Kirkpatrick and company are not alone in their belief that Hollywood’s ability to tell a meaningful story has been nibbled at by text messages, interrupted by cellphone calls and supplanted by everything from Twitter to Guitar Hero.

“I even saw a plasma screen above a urinal,” said Peter Guber, the longtime film producer and former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment who contends that traditional narrative — the kind with unexpected twists and satisfying conclusions — has been drowned out by noise and visual clutter.

What do you think? Is traditional storytelling structure dead?

1 comment:

David of www.viewmagazine.tv said...

Hello Professor Kobre,

Very topical post and link.

I wholeheartedly agree that video journalism has a huge amount to learn from cinema-making and not necessarily in structure per se, but in production drawing audiences to their films.

We’re seeing some of the best VJs grasp that, but video journalism is still new territory for many and therefore a sizeable number of practitioners appear more susceptible to exclusively use TV’s lingua franca.

I just happened to have posted about this yesterday on Journalism.co.uk - Video Journalism is not a one-size-fits-all medium.

Hollywood’s dominance in story telling has consistently been under threat from one wing or another. Take for instance film movements such as French New Wave and dogme.

It was only the grand plan, the emergence of the pop corn Blockbuster, mega movie merchandising and TV/DVD rights sales that saved Hollywood from disappearing.

And then there was digital which has yielded youtubing, torrenting and outfits such as Onedotzero, Filminute, and a new wave of independent digital film makers [remember 405] making their mark.

Microcinemas, outdoor screens, urinal video faces, XTPs and a whole glut of platforms have been the interesting developments in disrupting Hollywood’s film going process.

Here, a new brand of marketers have emerged believing anywhere people gather or pause for a minute [holograms on cereal boxes one day –Minority Report] is an opportunity to show your wares.

In 2001 we (colleagues and I) contributed towards the thinking and short films/ adverts that would go on London Undergrounds Cross Track Projection ( XTP). That’s short ads on the subways, which have only recently come on stream.

Then we played around with non narrative forms such as this The Family, which I have been redeveloping into a form that is video hyperlinking, which subverts the narrative - reported by The Economist.

At the UK’s film representative body, The Film Council, whilst hosting their event in digital opportunities one company talked about its video jump system called Avalon.

Narrative mania
My opinion, I think the narrative will always matter.

That’s what we do, tell stories, whether here in the UK or indeed Ghana and South Africa TV whereo I has the pleasure of working alongside on a unique video journalism co-production.

It’s how fast we can arc the story, play around with its form and get into the exposition in our contracted time span that’s exciting [see film minute] and it’s here where spatial films spoken at length by Lev Manovich leads to the sort of work we’re doing here at the Smart Lab.

That MIT is doing this should come as no surprise given their pioneering work, Negroponte et al did in paperback movies and spatial data systems brilliantly captured in Stewart Brand’s The Media Lab Inventing the Future at MIT

Thanks for triggering this.

blog: Vewmag.blogspot.com
site: www.viewmagazine.tv & MrDot.co.uk