Saturday, January 22, 2011

Quotation Motivation: It's All About The Audience

Writing is communication, not self-expression. Nobody in this world wants to read your diary except your mother. 
-Richard Peck

As artists, it's easy to get wrapped up in ourselves. We ARE our work. That book or script came out of our head, dammit! From our lives. From our experiences. However, feeling emotion is not the same as communicating emotion. We must remember that if we are concerned with the experience of our audiences, we must choose words and images that communicate that emotion. We've all seen those indie movies where the director makes us look at a drop of rain for two minutes, totally out of context. When I see this kind of thing, I always think: this dude/chick either really likes this shot and wants us to see how great it is for as long as possible. Or this means something to her/him and he/she doesn't care that it means nothing to me. And at that point they've lost me and probably most people watching.

We must feel to write, direct and act, but  it's also important to not be so wrapped up in our world that we forget to think about what we are communicating. We think about that time that dude pushed us down on the playground and screamed something hurtful. It was a crushing moment. Life changing! Chock-full of emotion and it really happened! You're determined to put that moment in your script! First ask yourself, does this serve the story? Is this TRULY compelling enough for an audience, that does not know the context of this moment in your life, to relate to? It probably isn't.

BUT, you may ask, isn't art about catharsis? Yes, about our audience's catharsis. Hopefully we get our own as well, but ultimately theirs is more important. So if you want to express raw emotion, reach for your journal not your script. As Mr. Peck put it, our business is communication and not expression. What do you think? Is this an oversimplification?

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