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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Screenwriting Inspirations


Since the art of telling stories is so essential for the articulation of almost anything that is communicated, I find continued inspiration for new creative combinations -  from the field of screenwriting. What fascinates me about screenwriting is how it is the art of selecting what is relevant to a story that "drives" the plot line forward - and of course, what is left out as extraneous. For this reason, I'm always curious to look at movies that are inspired by much longer and more detailed books to bring forward this selection process, scene by scene. 


One point that's not obviously revealed by merely watching movies is how movie viewers have been educated over the years to figure out what is happening in a story. Viewers are shown what has been determined by producers to be relevant to the story in the scene action of the actors, set and events. Of course this also includes indications of time frames, foreshadowing of later events, suspense, drama, character building, etc. Movie watchers are, to a great extent, completely unaware of how much work they are doing to construct the plot, events and characters as a story unfolds - and good storytelling never disturbs the illusion of how a viewer must continue to be tracking these elements to make sense of the illusion that is being created as an experience.

But how to put an ability to observe and analyze into becoming a new invention? Comparing to reveal differences is my favorite means. Then the differences can be used as a model or form, plugging in the different content from an unrelated area that then becomes related.

Recipes are an obvious example of this. You can take the form of a casserole, for instance - which is some sort of grain or starch in a container that is baked, containing some sort of vegetable or meat and a type of topping. Now you can take a genre of food, such as Lasagna which is a baked dish - and switch the contents to another country's food style - and you can make a Mexican food casserole instead of an Italian one and have an original combination that wasn't obviously apparent.

To apply this idea to music and screenwriting, there's a fascinating parallel that imagines a piece of music as if it were a story. This suggested to me how musicians could be playing roles in carrying out what this story will become using their ability to improvise. If you'd like to see the result of this invention that was inspired by this parallel thinking of marrying the genre of screenwriting to musical performance, check out the unique advantages of playing with the arrangement and instrumentation of a musical piece as if it were a story. 

http://www.franis.org/out4improv/

Any invention takes a bit of investment to wrap your mind around, and this one is no different. It's unpredictable what happens when you take one genre and use it to inspire unique characteristics in another arena. It often creates a synergy type combination, that is often useful for more functions than could be originally expected. Using and playing with a unique combination of genres will make these characteristics apparent. Projects need to be "born" and brought to maturity by figuring out what they are good for. Any baby is lots of trouble and not really good for much of anything until it grows up into a person who can do stuff - ideas are similar.

In this case, what started out as a convenient way to combine the differing abilities and involvement level of a large group of performers turned out to have other uses. As I used this newly invented system to describe existing characteristics of musical styles that already existed to see if it was relevant to them, I realized it could be used as a way to invent a completely new musical style that could be infinitely varied. It can also be used for one person to compose arrangements of a performance piece...as a way for a music teacher to have all of their students to improvise together, as a way to discuss musical arrangement in general...how to give form to generalized "jamming" among musicians who do not know each others songs. Possibly it could be crafted into a composer's game with some programming - but I would think that the experience of making music together with other people would be it's most interesting and fun application. Of course, that means you would need a "troupe" of people who played music on instruments or performed and were interested in playing together with each other, which may be a unique situation to find in this day of virtual reality.

For instance, a business application of such descriptive function in common with the A-Game I invented is apparent in the "music genome" of Pandora.com. Musicians working with Pandora listen to music and describe the characteristics of common factors such as instrumentation, style, use of harmony and rhythm and these descriptions are correlated to other "similar" songs. These commonalities are now organized into a database, so now any user of the site can specify a type of music they like and a whole radio station is generated from these descriptions, containing songs that the user would not normally become exposed to knowing about.

Functionally Creative

A picture from that era I am remembering...

One of the most creatively sustained, productive times of my whole life came at a time when I was highly happy, very busy and superbly functional. I did have this feeling that at the time that I had a tiger by the tail. I did feel obligated to take the good times I was having for the ride they deserved. When it ended, (as I knew it must,) for quite some time afterwards, I was almost drunk from the high of having been able to experience and accomplish so much in such a relatively short period of time. (16 months)

Later, I did some experiments to prove to myself that mood (pleasant or unpleasant) doesn't seem to have much effect on my ability to have a creative idea or an inspiring, meaningful zing. I proved that to myself by keeping track of how I felt and rating my relative performance for a whole month. Encouraged by my results, I then went on to debunk many other of my own assumptions such as "I don't have the money to..." and "I can't do this because I'll starve..."

My assumption that got debunked was when I felt "bad," my performance suffered. But that wasn't true - I produced and functioned, without feeling up to snuff at all, even when physically sick. (Although my functioning was marginal at times because when I felt bad, because I purposefully cut out many options. But I did the "necessary" ones and still got to experience surprising encouragements anyway, despite having lousy days and often being in a bad mood.) It was surprising how my original assumption of, "I must feel happy-healthy-comfortable in order to be creative" was only a depressive mood playing tricks on me! 

It appears that this assumption works in the opposite direction for you. You are assuming that people merely become creative when they are feeling melancholy. That's not true  - for me. It's not true for other people so commonly that Barbara Sher has outlined that same discovery as an exercise in multiple books - I think it was first in her book: "Live the Life You Love."

However, I did read somewhere in brain research that when we feel emotionally affected in a bad way, the body exudes some mitigating coping precursor in the brain that causes us to think about what is happening to us. This causes us to carefully reconsider the effect of our previous actions so we can make what will hopefully be a productive improvement in our circumstances. I'll see if I can find that link, which I saved in some remote corner of my many-opened tabbed bookmarks...