Telling Stories Without Getting Hung Up in Technology

16 06 2010

2 Reel Guys - a videocast from Larry Jordan and Norman Hollyn

The biggest thing that attracted me to teach at USC full time, when I started there eight years ago, was the fact that the Dean told me that our mission was not to teach better toys (though we certainly have to teach technology) but to teach better storytelling.

I don’t know a single filmmaker who thinks that their job is to play with technology. Ask any cinematographer, editor, sound designer, production designer, actor, producer, director, etc. what they do for a living — and they’ll tell you that they’re storytellers.

So, it’s been a great disappointment that there is about fifty times more web content about what buttons you’d push then why you’d push those buttons. Sure, I learn a lot from video tutorials — I watch them all the time. I learn a ton from casts like Film Riot and Avid Screencast, as well as videos from Larry Jordan, Ripple Training, Lynda and more. But it pained me that there is so little out there about why you’d use a certain lens to tell a story, what costume designers do to help a script, how silence and sound work to push the meaning of a script, and more.

About a year ago, Larry Jordan (FCP guru, trainer and co-host of the necessary-to-listen-t0 show The Digital Production Buzz) and I were talking about working together, and it occurred to me that, together, we could create just such a videocast. Now, Larry is way more comfortable in front of a camera than I am, but I’ve been doing teaching and speaking for years, and had developed a number of very teachable concepts about story construction that I’d written about in my book THE LEAN FORWARD MOMENT. Surely, we could pool our overlapping talents and come up with something that could help fill that gap.

Well, thanks to the support of Avid Technology, we’ve been able to do just that. We’ve already shot, and are finishing, 20 episodes of a new videocast called 2 Reel Guys in which we talk about the concepts of the Lean Forward Moment in storytelling. Each episode deals with a different aspect of how to use the initial storytelling concepts that we talk about in the first two episodes. Some of the concepts that we deal with (in 6-10 minutes each) include: how to work with actors, how sound design and camera techniques can help enforce the story that you want to tell. We’ll talk about editing, costume design, collaboration and much much more over the run of the series (which will hopefully go beyond these first 20). Starting yesterday, we’ve released the first two episodes of 2 Reel Guys, and we’ll unleash a new episode every two weeks — on the first and the fifteenth of each month. It’s the start of something which is quite exciting to me — bringing the concepts that we’ve been working with and teaching for years — to you; all for the low low cost of nothing.

That’s right. You can leave your wallets at the door (or on your night table, whichever is safer).

Give it a try and leave comments on our website.



8 responses to “Telling Stories Without Getting Hung Up in Technology”

16 06 2010
Sex Mahoney (08:14:06) :

This is pretty fantastic. I look forward to future installments of this series. Thank you much.

17 06 2010
Eliot (06:25:49) :

I couldn’t agree more about the lack of discussion on editing theory on the internet. And so I am eagerly anticipating your new videocast. Thanks in advance.

17 06 2010
Norman (15:44:18) :

Now that two of them are up, I hope you enjoy them and find them useful. Let me know what you think.

19 06 2010
JR (02:29:27) :

Thanks for this reminder. It’s really hard NOT to talk about that what in the current “what-heavy” climate. Going to be keeping this in mind for future posts!

19 06 2010
Zak (14:30:20) :

Wonderful, wonderful idea! An RSS feed would be nice, though.

21 06 2010
Norman (16:16:23) :

The RSS feed should be coming soon.

21 06 2010
RobShaver (16:21:56) :

This is, indeed, good news. I’m about half way through reading “The Lean Forward Moment” and it’s really crystallized my thinking about focusing everything that goes into a scene on those critical moments.

As an engineer I’ve been enamored with the technology of film making, but I’ve known that I had to steep myself in the other aspects as well. That’s why I took acting lessons … not because I want to be an actor, but because I want to establish some background to better connect with actors when I’m directing.

I look forward to watching your episodes when I get home tonight.



21 06 2010
Norman (17:16:37) :

I also found that taking acting classes was very helpful to my editing. I also took directing classes, but I chose to learn theater directing. It really opened my eyes to story.

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