Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Importance of Storytelling

By Laura P. Valtorta
Stories are like cinnamon buns. They unfold into sweetness.

As I continue filming my third film (a documentary about water service) and planning my fourth (a dance film), the need for storytelling becomes clearer.

Before filming begins, the director needs to write a storyboard. A storyboard maps out the look and feel of the film so that shooting time is not wasted. A storyboard might include drawings of film angles, descriptions of dialogue, or notes about the action in a scene. Through storyboarding, the producer or director may be able to find the arc of the story – the beginning, middle, and end of the tale, or a progressive chain of events leading to a big climax!

As my musical colleague and I began brainstorming for our dance movie, we discovered the need for another story – a fable illustrated by the dance we want to create. What sort of message do we want our dancers to convey? Since I’m the writer in this mix, I decided to devise the story myself, based on what the music says to me and fables about our subject matter – an Australian bird.

The choreography will end up being the story within the story when our film is finished.

Some innovative filmmakers, such as Simon Tarr at the University of South Carolina, are able to make their films with no evident narrative. Tarr has a 2009 film called Giri Chit, recently shown at Tapp’s Art Gallery, that gives a clear picture of the look and feel of Tokyo in various locations around town, including a rooftop garden and colorfully-dressed teenagers. The film is the art form, and this 14-minute piece seems more like an abstract painting than a film. It features mysterious camera tricks. Tarr’s work is beautiful, but I don’t know how to manipulate the camera like that.

For now, my work must rely on storytelling.