The other day I re-watched the TED video featuring J.J. Abrams. It's one that I find particularly inspiring. J.J. is a little all-over-the-place, but that's ok, he covers a lot of material and is engaging.
I was particularly re-watching this video for his talk about Jaws. In it he explains that the movie isn't about a shark, it's about a man, struggling with his life. J.J. shows a scene from the movie where Chief Brody is sitting at the table, deep in thought, while his son mimics him.
Eventually he says, "Give us a kiss."
"Because I need it."
It's amazingly touching and it says more about the character than anything else in the movie.
It reminded me of the Scottish Games this summer, I told the story: The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies. It's a good story, there're lots of opportunities for vocal sound effects and anachronistic humor: "The wedding cake had one of those novelty cake-toppers. You know, where the Prince is trying to run away and the Princess is grabbing his coat-tails." But, in the denouement: "He wrapped his arms around her waist and give her a kiss. The kind of kiss between two people who have been married for what seems like a lifetime and they love each other more and more everyday."
I delivered that story three times over the weekend, and for all the laughs and fun people had through out the entire twelve minutes, when it came to that part, suddenly the walls came down - in just a few seconds the whole audience, even the teen-aged boys, sighed.
That's the secret sauce, isn't it? Art is best when it is emotionally impactful. Whether it's laughter, fear, courage or love, it's the human factor that really hits 'em where they live. Heroes should have weaknesses, lovers should sacrifice and villians should be passionate about their motives. It's that thing that everyone talks about, that being "genuine". I think that's what makes a great artist, the ability to deliver genuine emotion.
This, more than anything, is my over-arching "what I'm working on".
There's a short-short story that's commonly attributed to Ernest Hemmingway, "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn."
Talk about pathos!