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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:14 AM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Boulder, CO USA
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Some thoughts on my decision making process

Some thoughts on my decision making process:

Hi everyone,

I just thought I would give you a little insight into my decision making process for judging your films.

My background has no doubt influenced my decision, so let me briefly shed some light on the situation. I studied biology as an undergraduate and went on to get a degree in natural history filmmaking, where they pounded the importance of storytelling into our heads. I went on to work in various aspects of wildlife filmmaking for several series on Animal Planet. Most recently I worked as a story producer and writer on the series Orangutan Island.

Because of all this, I hold a high importance on story structure. I think that a strong story will grab the viewer and hold their attention regardless of the quality of the footage. A strong story will develop characters and then make these characters face obstacles. The film should tease the outcome without giving it away. If this is done well, the audience will be dying to see how the characters react to the obstacles. Will they overcome them with success? Or will the obstacles get the better of them in failure? Typically, as a filmmaker you want to start with something really strong…introducing an obstacle up front to grab the viewer right away. Then the film should move to the climax…the moment of truth…that will determine the fate of the character. After this, the story should resolve fairly quickly. Of course there are no strict rules about this and any number of structures can work, but this is a tried and true method to keep in mind.

All that being said, of course I appreciate stunning imagery as well. Also, as a natural history filmmaker myself, I understand the difficulty of sitting and waiting patiently for a wild creature to do what you want it to do. So I tried to pay attention to these aspects as well.

As I watched each film I tried to take into consideration these qualities to determine who executed ALL of them the best.
Brant Backlund is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 1st, 2008, 11:59 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Menasha, WI
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This is a wonderful follow-up to the UWOL #9 challenge Brant. Thank you so much. I will be saving a copy of what you wrote in order to use it as a guide/tool in future projects I work on. Your comments, as well as feedback given by others, clearly indicate the importance of these things (story line and story structure). Things such as this are definitely one of the many "gifts" I received by entering this contest.

Thanks again for everything,
Andrew Kufahl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 1st, 2008, 01:36 PM   #3
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Location: Woodridge Illinois
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Thank you Brant. This is very much appreciated and I will also save a copy of your thoughts and insight into story structure. This was my second participation in the UWOL challenge and I am amazed as to the varied technics I have seen just from the last UWOL challenge to this one. I think it is absolutely fantastic the wealth of information that is shared here. Thanks again.


Oliver Pahlow
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Old July 1st, 2008, 06:51 PM   #4
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I'm taping this to the handle on my tripod
Eric Gulbransen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 2nd, 2008, 07:33 AM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Boulder, CO
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We have had many judges say that they like a strong story, but this is the best extrapolation of how to structure said story.

One thing to add, that came out of some of my chats with Brant and that is especially germane to the nature genre, is that adding some suspense can sustain the viewers' interest....will they mate? or won't they? (classic to both animals and humans! and the source of suspense in Mat's piece...) will they eat? or be eaten? (the central theme of Planet Earth, in my estimation...

I think considering the addition of suspense in the form of an unanswered question which then resolves itself is a good way to consider dramatizing what otherwise might just be great footage. Brant suggests it as a central problem or conflict, but I'm just adding to that (based on other conversations with him...) this idea of how suspense is what creates the sustainability of that conflict....and suggesting a few forms or structures that can take. There are certainly others that don't have to be classically Darwinian....
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