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Ep3:

This one lesson will improve every shot you ever take - if you learn and practice with The Rule Of Thirds. And once you master this rule, you can break for creative effect.

 

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Ep2: Here's an easy fix for one of the most common problems in amateur video. An essential tip if your shots will edited later by a friend or colleague.

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This is a trick I learned accidentally – my mother was a therapist and had lots of books with interesting tests in them.

Assigning your character something like a Myers Briggs type can suggest personality dimensions you might not have considered.

 
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Projects live or die based on the talent that they attract - and a great story is a prime attraction. And you can build your story with great opportunities for others to contribute creatively. Leave room for others to come and play. 

 
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Always tinker with different starting and end points to a scene.

I’ve had edits where a producer walks in and says ‘I’d cut that scene in half’ and they’ve been right.

Keep your audience on their toes, and leave them wanting more.

 
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What people WANT and what they NEED are rarely the same thing – that tension drives storytelling.

Michael Corleone (The Godfather) wants power - but he needs family.

Emmett (Lego Movie) wants to build a double-decker couch - but he needs self-belief to become a master builder. And so on.

 
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"To make art is to push the boundaries of your cultural moment, but in a way that is grounded in the kind of deeper truth that has a chance of connecting with members of your audience, even if it alienates others." - Stanley Kubrick⠀

This quote is by far one of the few litmus tests that I use on almost every project.

Another formulation of this idea is Raymond Loewy’s famous MAYA (most advanced yet acceptable) design approach.

 
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It’s a balancing act to propel your story but also give characters the agency to surprise you (and your audience).

You may know where your story is going, but your characters can’t just skate to the conclusion.

That puzzle should stump you sometimes.⠀

The great Raymond Chandler used to write himself into corners that he couldn’t get out of... so he just kept the plot twisting so much that no one would notice.

Director John Huston had to call Chandler while making The Big Sleep to ask who killed the Chauffer.

Chandler didn’t even know - and he wrote the story!

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Writing a great ending without having written the rest of the story is easy. Writing a great ending that is the natural and yet surprising culmination and synthesis of everything that has come before it - that's hard.⠀

The trick of a truly satisfying ending is that when it arrives it seems both surprising and inevitable.⠀

Here’s an example. If out of nowhere a character jumps on a hand-grenade at the end of your story and dies... it's a shock, but might not resolve the drama. If however, that character has been dreaming for his entire life about the moment of his death, knows it will somehow involve a hand grenade... and then when that critical moment arrives he recognizes it, and accepts his fate in order to protect a group of children from the explosion, and then dies secure in the knowledge that he had lived his entire life as an instrument of divine power.... that is a better ending.(Spoiler: see, A Prayer For Owen Meany)

 
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