Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thoughts on Film: Plot and Meaning

As a filmmaker and a storycrafter, it's extremely important to know the heart of what your story is about.

Plot and Meaning: Which should serve which?

Most filmmakers, when asked what their film is about, will start to explain the plot. They may say "My film is about a man who discovers an intricate conspiracy to overthrow..." or "My story is about a young college dropout who goes on a road trip and meets..."

But both of these are wrong - 

These explanations are not what these films are about. These are explanations of what happens in the film -  The plot.

Let me give you an example:

Christopher Nolan's 'Inception' is about the nature of reality, the value of knowing the truth. What happens in the film is different than what the film is about.

In my film 'The Strong One', a young boy imagines riding a dinosaur through Durham. That's what happens in the film. The film is about dealing with the struggles of growing up, and overcoming disappointment and divorce.

This is important to distinguish and to know, because what happens in your film (the plot) should always serve what your film is about (the meaning). 

So, when you watch a film - ask yourself these questions: 

What is this film about? 

Can you distinguish between what this film is about (The meaning), and what happens in the film (The plot)?

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