OUR APPROACH TO STORYTELLING
At their best, films, like all great art, tap directly into our subconscious. They do this best when they are created out of the subconscious of another. This is why so many films made by committee are often so dissatisfying, so infinitely forgettable. In our deepest recesses, we are natural storytellers. And we receive stories with equal ease. Storytelling has been with us since the dawn of mankind. It is in our DNA.
Take, for example, the fact that every conscious being dreams. As humans, our dreams play the role of working out our fears and concerns, our doubts, questions, joys and desires. But they are never direct. Dreams have their own logic, their own vocabulary, their own essence. They are oftentimes abstract, surreal. They ask to be interpreted. When we don’t understand our dreams, when we can’t remember every moment, every detail, we can still “feel” them; they linger in our guts for days, weeks, years, lifetimes. And there is no single interpretation of any one dream. Yet these dreams are not delivered to us from some outside force attempting to confuse us, alienate us, dissatisfy us. No, they come from within, from our own subconscious, when we sleep, when we are most vulnerable and least-likely to resist. The movie-watching experience is very similar. In a theater, we go so far as to share in a kind of “group-dream.” At home alone, if we give ourselves over to the film, we can be transported from our couches to experience places, people and emotional stimuli as if it were as real to us in that moment as our dreams are when we are dreaming. And each person’s experience and interpretation of that story and its characters is filtered through each participant’s own personal set of experiences, needs, desires, etc. Our subconscious plays a part even when stories come from without. We take them in, internalize them, add them to our collective dream experiences.
If we embrace this notion that there are truths within our dreams, that our minds and bodies turn naturally and organically toward storytelling, regardless of conscious intent, then we can begin to see why great works of art exist, why film is such a massively popular art form, and why our most cherished works touch us in ways that words often cannot. Music is a perfect example. Often abstract, poetic, sometimes improvisational, almost always, in its best form, deriving more from a feeling than being an intellectual exercise. Why is Salieri so profoundly moved by the works of his contemporary, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? It is not the mere mathematical perfection of the notes, but his deep sense and understanding –his feeling– that the music derives from someplace far more penetrating, more enigmatic, more organic. For Salieri, Amadeus is, quite simply, channeling his definition of god. And what Salieri felt lo those many years ago, is still being felt today by millions the world over each and every time they allow themselves to embrace and be embraced by Mozart’s works.
So it is with film.
Film can effect us on a level beyond logic. A person must have a need to share an experience with others before forming the language with which to tell it. The emotion, the desire, comes first, before articulation. Any good actor knows this.
From an early age, we seek out storytelling experiences, ask our parents to read us stories, to tell us far-off tales. We yearn for these. We do so because they effect us, they tap into us. Children’s stories are often quite abstract and rich in metaphor. L. Frank Baum’s book THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ has captured the hearts and imaginations of children –and adults– for generations. It does this long before any desire to break it down, to take apart its pieces and study its meaning and power over us, comes into play. The film version of THE WIZARD OF OZ works on the same level. What is it about that film that keeps children and adults coming back? It is rich with metaphor, it finds us through our subconscious and taps into something deeper than words alone could convey. It is, in so many ways, dreamlike.
As adults, our subconscious has no less need for such storytelling, yet we find ourselves searching for the kinds of stories that reflect our lives now, our adult fears and longings. And yet, too many films today are not willing to engage the adult subconscious from an adult perspective.
At Off Leash Films, success comes from eliciting a response as a result of stirring the subconscious –before the conscious mind steps in and enacts its need to decipher, to find an articulated meaning. We see our job as the former. And we see the audience’s job as the latter. Quite simply put, as artists, any film we make or script we write must be in the service of that experience.