As a film maker, are you telling a compelling story?
Today, film makers have an easy access to film making tools and an immense difficulty in telling a compelling story to appeal the audience. One of the most important factor that makes or breaks a film is its storytelling.
Without a compelling story the movie falls flat, no matter how great the film making is. This article is a crash-course for every new wave filmmaker. Just as no two journeys can ever be similar, no two movies can ever be exactly alike. In this article, as Ahmedabad’s leading mass media and communications institute, the LJ Institute of Media & Communications has listed down the challenges and opportunities for the new wave filmmaker in telling a compelling story.
Challenges faced by the new wave filmmaker in telling compelling story:
- How to depict the beliefs of real-life characters (in a documentary) – The biggest challenge while filming a documentary is to tell a compelling story in such a way that it does justice to every character. These characters are not perfect, its upto the filmmaker to bring out their imperfections, impatience, beauty and navigate through the story emotionally.
- Portraying a story where the audience hates the main character – Here the filmmaker has to set up a story with the audience hating the main character. The character is vulnerable, flawed (like us), capable of love and complicated. Even when people try to do the right thing, they end up doing it in a wrong way. No one can escape sufferings, but at the other end of the road there’s hope. Getting people compassionate about the main character is the toughest trick.
Opportunities in telling a compelling story for modern day filmmakers:
- Importance of the core question – Why should the core audience care about your story? Every story solves a question, this question is explored by the movie protagonist. Who is asking the question, you or other people? Every movie has a dominant character, to keep the story revolving around them is the task of the filmmaker. This question is the lifeline of every story, irrespective of the medium.
- Importance of conflict – To search for answers, the story requires the main characters to go out of their way and seek them. This results in conflict and hence bringing them closer to the answer. The audience care about the conflict and want to see it get resolved. Here they put themselves in place of the protagonist and gauge their own reaction. The opportunity lies in showing the conflict in multiple ways – positive, negative, empathy, personality trait or a happy surprise.
- Grabbing the attention of the audience – The audience has to quickly invest in the protagonist and story. In case of a short film the film maker has a few seconds and for feature film a few minutes to grab the audience’s attention.
The core question must resonate with the audience quickly – what does the main character care the most about?
Storytelling for a narrow audience is easy while for a broad audience the issue has to be universal or recognizable.
The storytelling opportunity here is to explore the questions concerning the protagonist and lead to a resolution either expected or unexpected.
Conclusion – Telling compelling story is challenging but with immense opportunities. The platform for every film is a strong story, it is up to the film make to bring it out in the best light.