Why do you have to be a great storyteller, no matter what level of artistic skill you show? I’ve written an article about how you want to tell stories that aren’t about plot and where you don’t need to spend the most money. It’s called “Get over your “Storytelling Is About Plot” Problem,” and it’s in the latest issue of In Focus magazine, so read it. And then read my interview on it, too.
A couple of days after I posted the article, I got an email from Pauline Kael, editor and senior vice president of The A.V. Club, asking if I wanted to talk.
Kael is a very kind lady, and I like her the very much. She’s smart and very funny. And it turned out to be a fantastic interview!
The A.V. Club: I have a question I want to ask you, and it’s about the notion of narrative filmmaking.
Hickman: Yeah, thanks, Pauline!
AVC: You just mentioned some of your past writing as background, and the article you just wrote about story is part of that history. Could you talk about telling the story? What is the difference, ultimately, between narrative filmmaking and other things like screenwriting or photography or something else?
Hickman: Well, story is more often used to describe the visual of the act—the moment you see, and the moment you tell. And for a storyteller, that visual moment is usually the starting point for the story. But what that visual moment is, as you said, also depends upon whether or not you have some other story you want to tell. So, it could be something like an epilogue, an epigraph, a flashback, something that says, “Here is an epilogue.” It depends upon what other story you want to tell, too.
The difference between a storyteller and a filmmaker is that a storyteller is the person who sees a visual moment, and a filmmaker is the person who tells the story using that visual moment. So, you’re telling a piece of narrative story using a visual thing as the starting point, but also knowing that the story will require more visual elements after that, so that you can expand your story around the elements that you’ve already established. The difference, then, between a storyteller with no visual memory of what you’ve already told him
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