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Old October 16th, 2012, 01:01 AM   #1
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Telling a story without a central character

So here is the deal- I am embarking upon a documentary about the very nature of reality itself. I intend to interview a wide variety of experts including physicists, philosophers, futurists and others for the film.

Usually when I do a project I like to have a central character, or characters, that the audience can emotionally relate to. This way the audience can have an identifiable person to go on the journey with.

For this film though, I don't think I am going to have a strong central character. The film will touch on philosophy, history, religion, physics, computer science and popular culture.

So my question is this- How do I go about producing a compelling story when the central character is not a person, but the universe itself? How do I keep the audience interested? How do I add drama and make people care when I am lacking that element of a personal journey?
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Old October 16th, 2012, 02:26 AM   #2
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Re: Telling a story without a central character

Seems to me you do indeed already have a central character: yourself, or to put it bluntly: your self. How do you go about producing a compelling story? Follow your nose, fine tune in retrospect, change your mind with gay abandon. (And by the way we are told, this just the other day, that there may well be more than one universe. Seems reasonable to me!)

You are not lacking the element of a personal journey, might I suggest. It is YOUR personal journey, clearly. How do you keep the audience interested? Sex, (lots of sex), murder, plunder, rape and so on.

No, I would not try to keep the audience interested. Make it a work of art, and as Walter Benjamin, the German Jewish literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist said in his book ‘The Task of the Translator’ “Art itself also presupposes man's corporal and spiritual essence—but no work of art presupposes his attention. No poem is meant for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the audience.”

If you need help with the script by all means give me a shout. Of course I do not come cheap...

Cheers.
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Old October 16th, 2012, 11:50 AM   #3
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Re: Telling a story without a central character

The way I would try to do it is to have your central character be an average Joe or Sue, waking up in the morning and being flashed to during day in normal mundane living, contrasting daily life with the deep questions you are exploring, and maybe even using the daily activities as an introduction to the particular deep subject.
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Old October 16th, 2012, 10:16 PM   #4
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Re: Telling a story without a central character

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
... the very nature of reality ...

So my question is this- How do I go about producing a compelling story when the central character is not a person, but the universe itself? How do I keep the audience interested? How do I add drama and make people care when I am lacking that element of a personal journey?
What you are attempting has been tackled before. One extreme example that comes to mind is the hugely successful http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000068OCS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000068OCS&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 trilogy.

You can read 'A hero with a 1000 faces' to understand why human mythology must always center around human interests and anthropomorphical characters. Make the universe a person.

Ultimately nobody you interview will have the answer to the nature of reality, except maybe Morgan Freeman. So what is the story of this universe-man? Sometimes the answer will only come after you have shot all your footage.

On a practical note, keep your options open so you can go the more traditional route if it comes to that.
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