Monday, May 16, 2011

It's not about the violence

I talk a lot about action, violence and suspense, loud bangs and giant  monsters, but there's more, much more more to it than that.
There's a reason behind the violence, keeping the audience jumping out of their seat, wearing them down to the point of exhaustion, it's about stress - if you inflate a ballon, increasing the pressure, higher and higher, the skin gets thinner and thinner, until even the dullest of pricks will cause it to pop.

All of that action, excitement, explosions, loud noises, harrowing drama and violent scariness, when done right will literally wear an audience out, their adrenalin kept on a high for so long, that they're ready to pop.
And you have to do it, you can't just run that train at top speed without a big payoff.

Good jump stories are a perfect example of this, building suspense for the big pow.
When you do it right, the result is amazing. You have worn your audience out, their defenses are down, a jump is the easy solution, you can do better than that.

If you do it right, a jokes are great, if your audience is raw, even a bad joke gets a laugh.

When I worked the ghost tour, I would spend an hour telling ghost stories and corny jokes, but I always ended at the back of the Whaley House, where I saw the ghost of Anna Whaley. I start with the ghost story of Violet Whaley, the poor girl, abandoned by her husband, shot herslef in the heart - scary, heartbreaking, then I tell the scary story of how I saw Anna Whaley, which ends in humorous twist. By the time I get to the end, they're all on pins and needles, I could say "Buy my CD" and they would, but the ending is great, and gets a good laugh - and lots of tips.

Even better than humor, if you batter the audience until they're wide open, you can reach right in and touch their hearts.
The last scene of King Kong is all rattling airplanes, machine guns, explosions and blood, but it ends with Kong breathing his last breath, staring into the eyes of Ann Darrow as his bloody hand slips from the roof-top of the Empire State Building. And after ninety minutes of dinosaurs and gas bombs, airplanes and car crashes, the death of a giant ape, so far from his home, only wishing to save his beauty, literally brings the audience to tears.

And that's what it's all about, it's not violence for violence's sake, it's about openening your audience up, dropping their gaurd and giving them the goods when they least expect it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to fire a machine gun

One of the things I've been wanting to do for some time is create some videos in which I talk about storytelling, techniques, insights, feelings, opinions etc...
The first of these videos, one that I've been mulling over for a while is how to fire a maching gun...