Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Make It Interesting !

I really wanted to put an update or two on Colorburst last weekend. However, the yard and twelve or fifteen other things took priority and Colorburst fell to the bottom of the queue. But as I bagged the yard-junk from winter, I was thinking about the movie short titled "405" (See further details below).

Why is this short interesting to me? Looking at it structurally, it is a totally fabricated story of an implausible situation, incredible luck (for both main characters) and exciting special effects absolutely essential to the story. But the story was fun to watch and the technology was within reach of most people reading ColorBurst.

How do we take our home movies and make it interesting?

I haven't yet figured out how to translate the style and ideas of "405" to something already shot like "Jon's Violin Recital" or "Jimmy's Sixth Birthday" or "Linda at Scout Camp." That story kinda goes "Linda packed for Scout Camp; Linda rode to Scout Camp; Linda lived in a tent for a week; etc." Not necessarily a lot of character-development, conflict, tension, resolution, and/or interesting story-telling.

The few 'story' videos that I have done were based on fabricated stories around actual happenings - like "Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt" (which had trolls and quiz show games) - OR narrated stories of actual happenings - like "Band Video" (which followed the entire marching band season.) In both cases, the storytelling was hammered home by ME as the 'omniscent narrator,' -- not the world's most creative style! In any case, those videos required a LOT of effort to piece together a story from already-shot video.

Suppose we wanted to do an interesting video of something that we know will happen in the near future; "Mother's Day Picnic in the Park 2006". How do we build an interesting story, then shoot and eventually edit the video, all without turning the day into nothing but a major video production effort? After all, I'd like to be a participant as well as the video guy!

Here's one idea courtesy of oldest son:

OK, It might be considered a bit staged, and we'd have to have a bit of participant cooperation. Imagine a scene where all the players are sitting at the park bench after their meal is finished. The used plates and napkins ruffle lightly in the breeze to sad, somber music -- think Bataan Death March. Empty plastic soda bottle blows off the table. Maybe the day is cloudy, gray and overcast. As the camera moves in close to the picnic people's faces, they look unhappy and bored. Tapping fingernails, yawns and general slow fidgeting and sighs of boredom are evident. As the camera focuses briefly on young Olivia, she lightly slaps her hand over her eyes and forehead in boredom and sighs pitiably. Reese juts out her jaw and rolls her head from side to side. And so on .... 30 seconds or so...

Suddenly one of the moms literally jumps onto the scene from nowhere and runs right up to the picnic table with an excited grin on her face. "Hey everybody, don't look so bored!" she exclaims. "I've got an idea to rescue you from your doldrums!"

The family exchanges confused looks... What could this newcomer have brought them? They perk up and look back at the her expectantly. "What?"

"Water Balloons!" she cries jovially, pulling two engorged and dripping orbs from behind her back.

"YEEEEEAAAAHHH!!!" shout the family, as they jump up and begin handing out water balloons. The sun comes out...

[Cue fun driving light oldies rock music]

Everyone takes one or more balloons gently and they leave the picnic shelter in a single file line. At first they walk then more quickly, then jog and then cradling their handheld missiles closely, they begin to skip jovially. They go from place to place around the park, hugging their water balloons closely but gently. They smile huge comical smiles and wink knowingly at each other, or just stare lovingly at their little balloons. They hold them and stare at them or through them at each other (their faces showing in vibrant color) or at the clouds in the sky. They love their little water balloons and carry them everywhere for a time, going down the slide, swiinging on the swing, etc., etc.,...

Suddenly the music stops with a scratch and one of the other Mom's shout "STOP!" and the family gathers in a semi-circle, puzzled looks on their faces.

"What?" they ask.

"Well, I'm not sure, but I don't think we are doing this right."

"Huh? So?" the family asks her.

"Well, this isn't really all that fun. And I think people are staring at us." The family looks around and then looks back confused at their balloons. They scratch their head and think. They sit in silence and ponder this new mystery.

That is when, quite suddenly breaking the silence, the six-year-old drops her water balloon on her Dad's head!


The family turns, stunned. They exchange looks, clearly shocked and puzzled. Huh? What? But their puzzlement slowly and deliberately melts away to be replaced by smug grins.... as the music starts again, this time with a drum roll and ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

[Cue heavy metal]

WATER FIGHT! {this last scene writes itself and can be improvised}

Total "PRODUCTION TIME": 15-minutes.

In addition to better/more fun video, the production "gives us an excuse" to play and have a good time. Maybe that's the key.... just "give us an excuse" to play and have a good time. In 5, 10 or x-teen years, we'll have videos of us interacting and having fun and also images of what we were like at the time, how we dressed, what we did, etc.

It could be water balloons, bubbles, whatever. If the family is really adventurous, maybe a food fight. (Then again, maybe with your family you wouldn't have to stage a food-fight!) Just build a 'situation' with a trifle bit of drama/tension/whatever, then a resolution with us having a good time.

...basic storytelling 101... I should have thought of this... ;-)

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