Understanding Conflict in Storytelling
Jeff Medford, Ross Hockrow
Understanding Conflict in Storytelling
Jeff Medford, Ross Hockrow
6. Understanding Conflict in Storytelling
Class Introduction17:55 2
Shot Sequencing30:35 3
Storytelling Theory35:22 4
The Structure of a Story25:00 5
Storytelling Techniques51:08 6
Understanding Conflict in Storytelling59:35 7
Camera Gear20:50 9
Lighting Tools38:56 10
Micro Budget Filmmaking33:42 11
Audio Gear29:03 12
Camera Movement20:45 13
Gear Q&A10:44 14
Shoot Preparation1:02:25 15
Shoot with Kevin Kubota1:12:45 16
Shoot with Kevin Kubota Continued1:16:55 17
Introduction and Script Formatting17:45 18
Adobe Premiere 1011:03:28 19
Building the Film1:19:36 20
Building the Film Continued1:23:15 21
Finalizing the Film54:59
Understanding Conflict in Storytelling
We built upon the concept of out of order. One thing I always like to tell people, especially when they're editing, you got to be a good listener. So, what we were doing in the intro to the film, when we were trying to figure out what's all the information here? Good observer, good listener, you've got to see the information as it's happening. Let's show you the nine shots. Remember we did at the beginning of this program, we put nine shots in the screen and said what's happening here? Well, you saw the film before that. This one you haven't seen. These are numbered one through nine. What order do you think they go in? If you have a piece of paper, write down the order that you think that they go in. And the internet can also participate in this. What order do you think they go in? The purpose of this is to, A, just like the nine shots that were originally on the screen when we were showing the CreativeLive trailer, is the information's all there. The story is there, the question i...
s what order do you have to assemble these shots in to sort of tell the story we're trying to tell? There is a specific order that we want them put in. What is that and why? If anybody's ready to go out here, we can go. Go for it. I've got seven, two, four, eight, five, six, three, one, nine, no, nine, one, no, one, nine. (laughing) Start again, seven? Seven, two, four, eight, five, six. Five, six. Three-- Nine, one? Three. And then, I couldn't decide. I think one, nine. Nah, nine, one. What's the first clip you have? Seven. Does anyone have something different? You do? I do. Yeah, what it is? I say, four, eight, seven, six, two, and then three, one, nine-ish. That's interesting. This is interesting. That's really interesting. Because at the end of the day, the story is still gonna be the same. But the question, how we perceive it is gonna be completely different. Now I'm sure we have some people on the internet who have different orders here. But here's, do we want to have? Read some people from the internet? What kind of orders they have? I only got one right here from Vforce was the first one to write in who said, seven, four, eight, six, three, two, nine, one, that's pretty similar. If not the same. It's very interesting. I see how people are connecting uh, Santa and the kids. Even though in the film, there is no connection. That's pretty interesting. Yeah, so it's actually very cool exercise, to see that people see the information and interpret it and order it differently. This kind of goes to show you that this is gonna happen while people are watching your film in real time. A good exercise to do, to try to help you story tell, is to do this as an editor, take 10, 15 screen shots of a moment and put 'em out of order and maybe ask somebody, hey, put these in order for me. What order you think they go in? That's gonna give you a very good idea of where the viewer's minds gonna go and how they are gonna piece the information together. The more idea you have of that, the better you can lead them in the direction you want them to go. Or if you've filmed something live, like wedding, birth announcement, or whatever, take a screenshot of each major piece of your film and use it and arrange it like that and see how the story changes and seems to make sense or not make sense or is stronger or is not stronger, based on that. Here's the order. I wonder if we might be slightly biased just because we saw the footage of the kids unwrapping the bottle in your trailer. And so I wonder if maybe we're associating it with them sitting under the Christmas tree, unwrapping the bottle. It's possible. It is possible, you could be biased. Number two is the first shot. So I didn't hear any number two's going first, which is very interesting. Seven is actually the third shot and like Jeff mentioned, a lot of people innately wanted to connect the kids and Santa Claus together when they really have absolutely no connection whatsoever. You as a filmmaker, you have to know what a viewer's gonna react that way. They're gonna try to do that so you have to, in the film, make sure you make sort of what I call a punchline, to make sure you know that the connection is not really there, if that makes sense. Let's watch the film so you can see how the shots play out. Actually, before we watch that film, Lance, I'm gonna put you on the spot. What happens? What's the story? Kids come downstairs, they see packages, they start to make their way down, they open the packages and Santa Claus comes. Santa Claus comes where? Out of the box, next to the tree. And what does he have? Has a bottle of peanuts. Swing Juice. Yeah. Swing Juice, yeah. Okay. Okay. Let's see if he's right. (Christmas music) (crinkling and thudding) (gasping) Yay! Ah, you actually bought it! It's a Swing Juice! It's a Swing Juice! This is the best thing I ever had! (box top thudding) (tree ornaments tinkling) Happy holidays, from Swing Juice. I'm in a box. ♪ This Christmas our wishes come true ♪ (laughing) That guy is so funny. Okay, that's our good friends, our Cina Stories, New England division made that commercial. Swing Juice is their people. There's actually a whole series of Swing Juice commercials. They do one a month for them. They're hilarious. But you see how, again, the storyboard I should say, that the shots, they directly relate to what's happened in the story and even the order in the film was a little different. Again, it's all about where shots are placed next to each other to create context of a moment. And then you see that the Santa Claus and the children have no connection. It's really the product that has the connection. Again, back to the commercial thing, we were saying, with the on one commercial we were selling time. You know, what are they doing here? Well, it's an energy drink essentially, right? But the kids reaction to the energy drink is really what you're selling. You're selling sort of cuteness, I should say. It's kind of the idea there. Here's the really interesting thing. Notice we were talking about different storytelling techniques and teaser and things like that. Notice how you see the kids on the stairs, and then you see the presents. If you were telling us linearly, they would come all the way down the stairs, then they would see the presents, but you already start to build anticipation, by revealing presents before they've even, in the timeline of the film, made it into the room. So, while we're on the topic of Christmas, I know it's past but I can't get over the holidays. My Christmas tree is still up. I want to get back to our DNA, and talk about this guy Santa Claus here, because I love being able to say this. In my book, I have an entire chapter on Santa Claus. The reason why I have an entire chapter on Santa Claus, is because this guy has so much power. It's incredible if you really think about it. Here is the power of stories, okay? During Christmas time, about Thanksgiving is when I say the holidays start, Black Friday, okay? Christmas lights go up on the outside of our house, Christmas trees go up, presents go under the tree, stockings, people buy more food because they're cooking for a mass amounts of family. Parties. Parties, chocolates, stocking stuffers-- Cards. Cards. Travel. Travel goes up. Everything, the economy goes up when Christmas time happens. And really what is it? Santa Claus has reindeer, he flies around the world and drops presents under your chimney. You wake up Christmas morning and you come down, there's presents there. That, okay, is tradition. So, when we grow up as kids, when you're a five or six-year-old, you actually think Santa comes down your chimney and leaves you presents, right? We grow up and eventually we don't believe in Santa Claus anymore. Do we stop celebrating Christmas? No. We don't, it's in our DNA. We love it. So, Santa Claus has an entire nation, the entire world, marching to the beat of this idea of Christmas time. It's a holiday but really at the end of the day, it's just a story. It's one story that sparked all of this. What do people do? That's what a mall looks like during Christmas time. You ever go to the mall on Black Friday? Good luck, right? No. People are buying TVs, wheeling TVs out of Target, and things like that. I like to talk about the Easter Bunny because the Easter Bunny is so funny, 'cause personally, I don't get the story. I don't know where the bunny comes from, right? So there's a story somewhere, it's there, and again, Easter, everything's closed on Easter, we get Easter baskets, I don't even get the story, but yet, I participate, I'm part of it. Everybody, you know, Halloween, I have a friend from London who told me that people in London, the thing to do on Halloween is to go to New York City. People actually fly to New York City just to be in New York during Halloween. Why? For what purpose, right? Because it's all stories, that's how much we love stories. That's how ingrained into our DNA it actually is. So that's what you have to understand. When we grow up, we don't grow out of it, right? We just turn, you know, you're the kid, five-year-old kid, sitting on the bed asking your parents, tell me a story, and then you grow up and have kids and then you become the storyteller, instead of a story seeker. Yeah, you transform from the participant to the perpetrator. We all know this story, right? What's he talking about? The fish. The fish, there we go, and the fish. But we've all seen that story. We're all storytellers, we all have ways of telling a story. I caught a fish this big. Well show me and I'll believe it. We do it every night in bed, no pun intended. We tell stories to ourselves every night when we sleep. Jeff talked about this with dreams. We're programmed to tell stories to one another. When I used to work for Jeff, when I was an employee, I had a whole bunch of stories I would tell as to why I'd show up late to work, or why I wanted to work from home that day, and I'm a great storyteller, so, he believed every story I told, sorry. I, yeah, I did believe you. You did? I was naive. Yeah, and we can't forget a good story. That is a very important point because think about Christmas time, think about Santa Claus, think about that stuff. We don't forget it. Even when we know, see, when we're five years old, we know Santa Claus is real, we know it. And then one day we don't know it anymore but we don't do anything different. We don't let that go. It's part of us and if we understand that, then when we go and become storytellers, we can play upon that, upon that concept. Let's get into a more complex structure of a story. We saw this and this is philosophy. This is like ancient philosophy. I didn't invent this, I'm just delivering the message here. Beginning, middle, end. We saw that earlier in the last section, beginning, middle, climax, end. But it's more complex than that, okay? We add a rising action and a falling action. So basically what a rising action and a falling action is, is between the beginning, the middle, and the climax, between the middle and the climax, there's a rising action. So how I said that the key to a climax is building towards that climax, the rising action is the build to the climax. The falling action is the lead out to the climax. You can't have your film climax and then be done. You have to sort of wind down, give closure, wrap it up. Any good movie, you see this, when the climax happens, and the pinnacle of the movie happens, there's still good 20, 30 minutes left in the movie. 30 minutes might be stretching it, but 20 minutes is probably accurate. All that is falling action. We have to understand that and I like to modify the plot structure by using this slide here. This is very important so we know, beginning, middle, climax, end, but we put the rising and the falling action in that part so that we know where each part of the story actually goes. When we were building this program, Jeff and I had a very big discussion about conflict, what it means, how to use it, and this is everything we do and when we get through the section and we start to go into more detailed things of camera placement and things like that, you'll see that there is no coincidence in film. Every thing leads back to this right here, 'cause this, always exists, no matter what. Most times you don't have to create it, so to speak, unless you're writing it from scratch. But these always will exist and I'm gonna show you little films in between here to show you what each conflict means, how to use it, and then I'm gonna give you some homework assignments. You guys on the internet too. Watch these movies because these are where the conflicts are and you can see the conflict highlighted, so to speak. The relational conflict is human versus human. That's when you have a man opposing a man, human. Situational conflict is human versus their environment. When a human is challenged or trying to be influenced by their environment or trying to influence the environment, they're sort of oppose to the environment. Inner conflict is human versus self where you're introspective and you're battling yourself. It's like human versus yourself. Paranormal conflict is human vs technology. This is a lot more common nowadays. It wasn't as common back in the day, so this is becoming more and more popular where we have to, we have all this technology around us, see how we do that in a second. Cosmic conflict is human versus destiny or fate. You're sort of racing or battling against the fate and your destiny, maybe trying to change it. And then social conflict is human versus group, either the human is trying to convince the group to do something or the group is trying to convince the human to do something. So, let's-- With all of these, there is always some opposition to overcome. It's that emotion of overcoming opposition and triumphing or failing and then trying again. It is part of that unique human experience that we all share that causes the same reactions in all of us. Yeah, and you know, there's only one instance where there is no conflict and there's still a story, but without the conflict, there's no conflict resolution, which means there's no purpose. You take this for granted because it's not pointed out to you often but it's almost always there. Think about the birth announcement, for example. On a face value, how do you create conflict in a birth announcement? Well, you don't create it, first of all. You take advantage of what's there, and in that case, you saw the conflict of a mother who had tried for years to find a way to come to terms with having a baby, and that fulfillment of that moment for her, you could see how overcome she was with emotion. It was that conflict right there that we were able to take advantage of to then draw emotion out from the audience, too. The fact that the mother was proud of her daughter and expressing that whole thing, that's a conflict. And there's an opposition there and she has overcome the opposition to the conflict which then allows the viewer to receive a heightened emotional experience in watching this. So let's get into the specific conflicts. Now, what I'm gonna do is we have a film about being addicted to Facebook. It's a comedy film. For those of you on the Internet, you can watch the film in full after we go through the demonstration, and the film has every single conflict in it, and I created it for the purpose of showing you how all the conflicts work. And the film just happens to have every single one in. But what I did here is I took little pieces from each part of the film to highlight these specific conflicts to show you how they work. And basically the whole concept of the film is to, this guy on the left here is addicted to Facebook, and the tagline of the film was "Can you delete yourself?" Can you delete your Facebook account. And his friends are very worried about him, so it all, this intervention, and it's like he's addicted to drugs, but really it's just Facebook. So, let's let me show you a little excerpt of this film, a little part of this film here, and see what relational conflict looks like. Are you guys kidding me? (slamming) Come on, let's go. No way, man. We have time now. We're eating here. And we're gonna talk about why your addiction to Facebook has me missing my egg and cheese for the third morning this week, because your upstairs playing what? Farm City? It's Farmville. He ain't addicted. It's a cry for help. I've seen this before, man. Shut up, Justin. You don't even talk to people in person anymore. You just stalk them on Facebook by sending them creepy messages and liking everything they post. Do you even know who half of your friends are? I'm not addicted, man. I'm just having fun with it. Yo, dude. You got problems. Shut up, Justin. I'm just worried about you, that's all. Okay, but now you're making us late. Cry for help? Idiot. What? (shuffling) Okay, so relational conflict. Human versus human. You can see the main character on the left and the guy all the way on the right, a guy named David, they're essentially having the conversation. And Justin, the funny, supposedly the comic relief of the scene, he's sort of like a extra in the scene. He's just color commentary. He's not centrally leading the charge of this. So it's those two opposed to each other, and one's saying you're addicted to Facebook and the other one's not, and they're sort of battling each other. Now, here's a couple of movies I want you to watch. There's three movies. I'm gonna give you three movies for every conflict that you should watch. There's a movie called The Prestige. It's a Christopher Nolan movie, and it's Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, and it's about magicians. And this is one of the best human versus human conflict I've ever seen in a film because it is truly them oppose to each other, and if you watch this film, you will really get the full gist of what a relational conflict actually feels like. The Dark Knight is another Christopher Nolan movie. No coincidence. The Joker and Batman, most of us have seen that. And I like to make the point that, when we get to the other conflicts, I'll show you that Batman Begins is the prequel to that. That's not a relational conflict because he is essentially trying to save his city of Gotham. This is really, the Dark Knight is more about Batman versus the Joker, and that's essential to the tone of the film, and you can really see that in the scene where they have him in the interrogation room and he says I don't want to kill you. I enjoy you. You need me, I need you. It's this everlasting battle between Batman and Joker. And then The Social Network. I don't know, we've all seen that. David Fincher is my favorite filmmaker. The whole thing is just relational conflicts. He's being sued by everybody who can afford a lawyer, essentially. So it's him versus this person individually, these people individually, this person individually. There are several relational conflicts there. And another thing you're gonna see is that you're gonna see movies repeated to other conflicts because movies have several types of conflict, and that's a really informative thing because most movies will have multiple conflict, so you're gonna need to understand that. Situational conflict. This is human versus your environment. We're gonna watch another piece of the Facebook thing. But here, when you're talking about a situational conflict, you're being tempted by your environment. And that's essentially the meaning of the conflict is there is the environment around you and you are trying to over come that. So let's take a look at what a situational conflict looks like. And two nights ago, you chose to play Words With Friends instead of having sex with me. (intense slow guitar music) Seriously? I had a huge word. What? It's affecting our sex life. None of you have been there before. But if you have, that would be a situational conflict. I'm sure a lot of people play Words with Friends and can be tempted by the seven letter, 50 point bonus. I don't know. It's like Scrabble, essentially, right? I don't play it. But it's like Scrabble, I'm told. But basically what happened there, as you can see, it's he's being tempted by his computer, the environment. And so she is not the conflict. The computer is the conflict, if that makes sense. So it's not them opposed to each other. It's him opposed the environment around him. That makes sense. So, in a situational conflict, Requiem for a Dream, because have you see all seen that movie? Obviously that is a very emotionally, it's a great movie. You got to see it. Okay. Good movie. Good movie. So, that's one of my favorite situational conflicts because he's really being tempted by his environment. Batman Begins, like I was saying before. His environment has tempted him. He goes on that seven year, he leaves for seven years, because of what's happening in Gotham. His parents were murdered. I'm not trying to ruin the movie for anybody, but go watch it and you can see the situation conflict is there. The Perfect Storm. We've all seen that, right? That's about the big nor'easter with George Clooney. You can't battle your environment any more than you can in Perfect Storm, so you see that it's not any one particular person that he's opposed, it's the environment around him that he's opposed. And then Batman Begins, the same thing. He's opposed the city of Gotham. The idea of evil, not one person. Whereas in the Dark Knight, it's the Joker. Inner conflict. This is human versus self. This is supposed to be introspective. This is when you need to do self-reflection to overcome something. So you are the conflict and you are the resolution, and these are the hardest things to make because you have to be able to be a very good visual storyteller 'cause it's not every day you can get a scene or a moment where someone's talking to themself and trying to resolve the conflict because with every conflict comes a resolution. So, you're not gonna necessarily have the standard conflict resolution in an inner conflict because it's happening within. So you have to be good with, you can see you sitting in front of the fire, his head is in his hand. You can see, he's doing self-reflection. So let's see what it looks like when Mario is trying to quit Facebook. Fine. I'll do it. But I have to do it alone. (slow guitar music) (exhaling) Well, that just happened. ♪ I'm aching ♪ ♪ My blood is on fire and I am pacing ♪ ♪ My body is so tired ♪ ♪ And I'm waiting ♪ ♪ For this feeling to subside ♪ ♪ And I'm bracing ♪ ♪ For the rest of the night ♪ ♪ I, I ♪ ♪ I, I ♪ ♪ I gave everything I had to you ♪ ♪ And I never got anything back from you ♪ ♪ Now I ♪ ♪ Oh ♪ Okay, so. (laughing) It actually does say your friends will miss you if you delete your account. It's actually very funny. They don't want you to delete it. One thing I want to point out before I talk about that, do you notice how the shots played out when he was in the shower? I show a shot of his feet and the water hits it and you see all skin, and then I show the water coming out of the, and you think, oh, we're going to see him in the shower. And then you see him with his clothes on. See, every sequence has a climax, not just every story, not just every scene, but every sequence has little mini climaxes that all feed into the main climax. It's four shots and on the four shot, you see his shirts on and then it's like oh, that's the punchline. Then it's funny. Then it's funny as opposed to are we going to see this guy in the shower. If you had shown that first, then the feet would have no real meaning, the shower head would have no real meaning. It's the fact that it shown last that makes all those other things have meaning. Which plays into the whole gift with the Shawn and Ruthie when we were watching the different stories and how it was saying the inter-cutting, it makes those, the wrapping of the present and the unwrapping of the present actually mean something to have emotional impact. It's just the order in which they're placed that give them that meaning. And notice with inner conflict how I said he's not gonna have dialogue with himself. He declared I have to do this alone. They said you have to delete your account, and then he says I have to do it alone, and then no one said anything after that. It was just shots of him thinking. And you have to be a good visual storyteller, the music matters, and all those things matter to create this conflict, and it is one of the hardest ones to do. Fight Club, my favorite movie of all time. 'Cause, well, if you haven't seen Fight Club, I'm just gonna-- First of all, first of all, I had not seen Fight Club when I met Ross. And he told me it was the greatest movie of all time. He said it so many times that I was like you know what? Okay, I'll watch it. So I ordered it from Netflix, I'm in my bed, my wife's here, and my two-year-old, redheaded, beautiful daughter is right here, because, and I look at her and I'm like we're about to watch the greatest movie of all time because I didn't look at the rating 'cause it was the greatest movie of all time, so certainly, certainly it's nothing controversial. Why would you think that? I don't know if you know how the scene opens, but it's like a gun in somebody's mouth and I'm like oh. Then it went off and I never watched it after that. Anyway. Not the greatest movie of all time. Anyway, that's just blasphemy. That's blasphemy. Hold on. We need a moment to get over that. (laughing) So, Fight Club is, in my opinion, the greatest movie of all time. And it really highlights inner conflict and sort of, kinda cheats a little bit, because he does talk to himself the entire movie. It's another character played by somebody else, but it actually is him. When the crescendo of that is revealed, you're blown away. And all you want to do, and it plays back on the question we were asked before, if they have to watch it again, is that bad? No, because everybody, most normal people, were thinking that, and me and you have conflict now because you don't like Fight Club. For sure. Everyone's thinking once they realize they were the same person, it's like oh, my god, I've got to go back and watch that, and you don't see the things like before Brad Pitt's character is introduced, he's flashed on the screen in single frame 16 times before his character's introduce, which ties into his night job of being a projection is where he slides single frames of you know into family films for funny reactions to things like that. So the way everything connects is nothing short of genius. The Aviator is one of my all time favorite movies, as well. And there's a lot of conflict in this. But really, the main conflict for me, what I related to the most is his OCD. And you see why I love this movie so much and why I think it's Leonardo DiCaprio's best acting performances because the progression of that OCD starts from nothing and goes to the most extreme it could possibly be throughout the whole film, and you see it grow, and you see moments where they highlight it. So, it moves in and out of different conflicts. And then of course, The Matrix, which is just-- We can agree on this. We can agree on The Matrix. The Matrix has several conflicts, and one of the big ones is Neo, Keanu Reeves. He has to believe himself that he is the one, that he is the savior. And he goes through all these ups and downs, and is challenge by Morpheus in all these ways to overcome the inner conflict. But the thing with inner conflict is it all has to be done within. And that's the theme you'll see with all of these movies and with the Facebook thing we showed. He has to make the decision. Yes. So what made you pick then Batman Begins as the environment conflict instead of self conflict? 'Cause isn't there that whole beginning part where he has to decide that he's actually gonna do this and become Batman? This conflict definitely applies. Okay, so just for that beginning part then? It applies to the whole film, but I was trying to highlight the idea of the environment around him, how bad Gotham is, and then he goes to the League of Shadows, is trained by them, and then finds out their mission is to destroy Gotham and he wants to save it. So he's battling his environment as opposed to one single person, and also he is battling a group, which we'll get to in a second. Paranormal conflict. Human versus technology. This is very, is becoming more and more common as I mentioned before. Technology, obviously as it becomes more technologically advanced, we have to sort of combat it. Jeff and I, one of our favorite things of social justice is the group Anonymous. If you were to make a film about them, that would be human versus technology, and they'd better like it or else they'll probably do something to you that you can't control. (laughing) Let's see what paranormal conflict looks like in the Facebook film. I'm not gonna let Facebook take over my life anymore. I'm done. Thank you, friends. And that you, conscience. (laughing) I'm free! (intense guitar music) I'm so proud of you, babe. So, did he do it? Deleted. Good job, buddy. Thanks. You doing okay? Yeah, totally fine. All right. I'm glad that's over with. Hey, what are you doing over there? You ever heard of Twitter? (quirky music) So you see, technology tempts him all around. He's gotten over this entire process. He went through his inner conflict, am I gonna delete it? He finally deletes his account, and then he's got a cell phone in his hand, and then he discovers that Twitter exists, and then it'll be Tumblr, and then it'll be My Space, part two, or whatever they're doing with that. But you see the point is that technology's always going to tempt him, so when I make the sequel about Twitter, it'll be all about him. I don't know. I'll find something funny to do with Twitter. But you see the point, yes. Do think there's a meaningful distinction between environment and technology? Technology is an entity in and of itself, but in the modern world it's kind of pervasive. Yes. Yes, okay. Good question. They can bleed together because environment can be something not technology, as well. Like Perfect Storm, for example. That's-- Obviously the water. Environment is specific, so to speak. But yeah. And like I say, paranormal-- But like a situational environment, 'cause you were using Batman Begins as like a situational environment, not so much a force of nature. Right. I'm just wondering how you're defining, if you define some conflicts with technology as... Or where that distinction becomes important in terms of how you're utilizing it? Apart from the definition of environment and technology. In terms of what has to be overcome? Yeah. Okay. What is the opposition that has to be overcome? For example, like for these movies, The Matrix, of course, is overcoming technology, right? Because you're in a futuristic world. You're trying to overcome essentially a computer system. Not necessarily a natural disaster, or the aura of an environment, or you're in the lost. You're trying to overcome the island, so to speak. The Matrix is specific to technology in that sense that it's the computer system itself. Does that sort of clarify? Yeah, it totally makes sense. I'm just wondering what... Because technology can be environmental, is something, filmicly-wise that seems important about distinguishing technology? It seems like things like The Matrix obviously are based on this conception of what technology could be in this kind of futurism. But things like Twitter are very modern. Is this idea of technology as having some sort of specific oppositional presence and almost oppositional in a way that it is in and of itself having a concerted thought process in opposition to you. Right. That would be technology that 100 years ago or 200 years ago wouldn't have even been the plot of a story. So, like I said, it's a new, sort of a new conflict that we highlight on-- So, it's kinda tied with either modern or futurism-- You ever seen I, Robot? Yeah. Yeah, so like, that would be situational and paranormal because he's battling his environment around him, but really it's-- But the environment is technology. It's technology, yeah. It's about technology as a form of a thinking, decision-making personality that is opposed to whatever the character is. And a great thing is Inception. Yeah, so like what they're doing is they're on a 10 hour flight and they have 10 hours in real time but as they go deeper into the dream, time slows down and they have that little machine the hooks them all together. But they're essentially racing against a thought. If you really, really break that down, and how of the things they used to create that, it's essentially technology, so to speak. And then of course, the environment comes into play. Right. Kay. So cosmic conflict will be human versus destiny or fate. You see this a lot in movies where your destiny is this and you have to change your destiny a lot, like Inception. They get on that plane, and when he lands, if he doesn't complete the task, he's going to jail for the rest of his life. So he has a clock to race against to change his fate. Let's see what cosmic conflict looks like in the Facebook movie. (guitar music) No more status updates. No more poking. No more tagging photos, no more friends. No more existence. Come on, Mario. You're better than this. It's just Facebook. Yo, don't listen to him. Facebook is who you are now. Think back years ago, Mario! You were fine before it existed. Okay, first of all, you delete yourself, people will forget who you are! And second of all, ass over there, it's Ma-rio. What? No, no, no, it's definitely Mar-io. Learn how to read, idiot. He even says it. It's-a me, Mar-io! What's it's-a? Oh, that's it! So you see there, that is two conflicts, right? Inner conflict, because that's actually happening in his head, but really the idea in his head that he's trying to overcome is if I delete my account, people will forget who I am. That's fate. That's destiny. How do I overcome that? How do I alter destiny? The whole film, obviously, has all of the conflicts in them so they all bleed over. The characters on his shoulders are his inner thoughts, just we put a face to it. So the whole idea of that is that if he deletes his account, people are gonna forget his existence. And here are the cosmic conflicts that I think are good. 50/50, Jeff's favorite movie of all time. He hates it, but you guys seen 50/50? Oh, good. Nobody's, oh, did you like it? It was okay. It was okay. All right, see. It's not the worst movie ever. It's the worst movie ever. So, what's happening is he gets diagnosed with cancer and what's your fate there? He has to overcome his fate. He has to change and alter destiny. Looper, which I just saw. Did you guys see Looper? Okay, Looper is really, really, really cool movie. Basically, it's about time travel. They invent time travel in the future and they send people back to dispose of, mobsters to dispose of bodies. So they send someone back to run all these, I guess, assassins, and when they want to get rid of a body, they send him back in time, and then they dispose of the body in the past. When the person who is actually doing the killing, when their time is up, they close the loop, as they call it. They kill them, so, the main character is trying to overcome that destiny. His destiny of death, so to speak. And then Inception. Again, like I was mentioning to you, when they land that plane, Leonardo DiCaprio's character's going to jail unless they overcome the conflict. Unless they actually plant the idea in that guy's head. Well, also, just the implantation could be a cosmic conflict-- Absolutely. 'Cause they're trying to change his whole process of thought from how it was to something different. Definitely. And yeah, I mean that movie is so brilliant and so deep that probably you could find every single conflict in there in some way shape or form. Social conflict, which is human versus group. Either the human is trying to convince an entire group to do something, or vice versa. The group is trying to convince a single human to do something. Let's take look at what it looks like in the Facebook movie. (typing) (slow music) (mumbling) I think so. (mumbling) Guys, I think there's a serious problem with Mario. He's addicted to Facebook. That is good. He's going in late to work, letting it effect his social life, staying up all night. Last week he checked in at his grandmother's funeral. It's completely taken over his life. That's why I called this meeting. It would be wrong and downright inhumane to allow this to continue into the Timeline era. We need to help him. Yeah, but isn't that dangerous for us to do on our own? Actually, Tim, it's very dangerous, but if we proceed with caution, we should be able to avoid emotional scarring. Now, according to Google research, there are a series of steps we have to take, and it won't be easy. The first, is to have an intervention. Now our sources tell us that he'll be back here at any moment. He left work today. Sick. But really he just went to the party and got on Facebook all day long. That is so sad. He's walking in, he's walking in, come on. (sighing) What are you guys doing here? Mario, sit down. Okay. The reason we're all sitting around in a circle in your living room, Mario, is because this thing's gotten outta hand. What is this? Felt like we needed to host an intervention. An intervention? An intervention for what? For your addiction to Facebook. I already told you, I'm not addicted. So you see, that continues for quite some time and then they go into all the ways in which he is addicted. But you see, the group, there's nothing more cliche for a social conflict than an intervention. A group is trying to convince one person that you are addicted to Facebook, or whatever it is you're addicted to. And of course, there's always opposition. And then you can see, beginning, middle, climax, end. That's one scene, and the beginning, you see him, David all the way on the right, give the premise. We're here, we've called the intervention. We think Mario's addicted to Facebook. We've all gathered here to fix this problem. Mario walks in and then the opposition is there. So it's I'm not, immediately, I'm not addicted to Facebook. And then the scene has a beginning, middle, climax, end, because you saw the ending before, where it's like okay, I'll do it, but I have to do it on my own. So each scene is like its own mini story, and each shot sequence is like its own little mini scene. Does that makes sense? So each part gets bigger and bigger, and then you feed them into each other. Social Conflict movies. The Aviator. If you've seen The Aviator you know that, Leonardo DiCaprio's character Howard Hughes, he's trying to convince the whole world that whatever he says is the way of the future. That's essentially one of the other tones of the film. Any Given Sunday, one of my all-time favorites. We all know the famous locker room speech. You guys seen Any Given Sunday, the movie? Yeah. Al Pacino is try to bring a team together. A group. One person trying to convince a whole group to do something. And then Remember the Titans, of course. Again, same idea. Football movie. You're trying to bring an entire team of people together for one common goal, to overcome the conflict. And every story has conflict, like I was saying before. Even weddings, birth announcements. It doesn't matter. If there is no conflict, there is no story. There is one exception to that rule. What we want to show you is a birth announcement, actually, that we did to show you where conflict is, and then we want to see if you can actually pick out what the conflict is in the story. Which one of those six it falls into. So, let's take a look at this and find out which conflict we can pick out from it. (upbeat acoustic music) ♪ What a beautiful world ♪ ♪ Everywhere that I look on down the road ♪ ♪ You stir my soul ♪ ♪ Such a beautiful day ♪ ♪ Life is smiling and pushing me the right way ♪ ♪ And now I'm awake ♪ ♪ Yesterday when I was older ♪ ♪ I was wise but such a fool ♪ ♪ Every page a new beginning ♪ ♪ And now I'm spinning in the sun ♪ ♪ What a beautiful world ♪ ♪ Everywhere that I look on down the road ♪ ♪ You stir my soul ♪ ♪ Such a beautiful day ♪ ♪ Life is smiling and pushing me the right way ♪ ♪ And now I'm awake ♪ ♪ In the sun, when I was colder ♪ ♪ Words were ringing in the air ♪ ♪ I couldn't see around the corner ♪ ♪ It was warmer ♪ ♪ In the sun ♪ (whistling) ♪ I'm upside down ♪ ♪ I'm turned around ♪ ♪ I'm finally found ♪ ♪ And what a beautiful world ♪ ♪ Everywhere that I look on down the road ♪ ♪ You stir my soul ♪ ♪ Such a beautiful day ♪ ♪ Life is smiling and pushing me the right way ♪ ♪ And now I'm awake ♪ ♪ In the sun when I was colder ♪ ♪ Words were ringing in the air ♪ ♪ I couldn't see around the corner ♪ ♪ It was warmer ♪ If they keep this up we won't have to pay for college. (hands clapping) (whistling) All right. What's the conflict? Which one would it fall under? Mm. Maybe cosmic. I see two main ones. I see human versus human in terms of who the baby looks like in different respects, that they are kind of arguing about that between themselves. But then I also see human versus, it might be environment or maybe destiny or fate, as far as saving up for college. Yes, okay, so I would say you were right about the relational conflict. Human versus human would be probably the main-- That's the main. What's making the story happen is that. Yes, exactly. Which would be sort of the central conflict. And then, I'm sure we could find sub-story conflicts there. What happened? What was the story? Someone give me the plot line. They were betting against who got what, and whenever they lost, someone had to do something. Well, I think he had to dishes 'cause he lost, didn't he? That was one time. And they put all the money from the betting in the piggy bank. And what were they betting on? Body parts. (laughing) Which one the baby looked like, right? Right. The name of that film's called Genetics, and that s has a dollar sign, by the way. Yes. You're right. How do you know all this information? From the visual juxtaposition of the people pointing out a body part, and then showing the baby's body part. What's the quote? The quote? What's the concept? Anybody in the Internet know? Show it don't tell it. Show don't tell. There we go. Don't tell. Show don't tell. That's not my normal style, because I like to have a narrative, but the story was there. Kudos to Jeff on the story. That was his brother, and he came up with the idea of pointing to body parts. It was actually gonna be his birth announcement. I came up with that idea for my son. But we were on the road in the middle of getting motion and didn't have time to film it. But you could see, you could put together story visually and the people who spoke the line at the end, what's their relationship to the couple? Parents. Grandparents. Boom, right there. So you see, the information is very, it's sort of simple to deliver to a viewer if you put everything in the right context. Did you notice how there was so much inter-cutting there? She's making the poster, which continuously, the process of making that poster was put throughout the entire film. It's not like she sits down and makes the poster and you have to watch that. You're constantly going back and forth between her making the poster, the betting happened, her taking care of the baby, the husband and wife being together with the baby, and all of that inner cutting keeps the story moving along and keeps it interesting. If you'd a done that in some sort of linear fashion it would have been so ultra boring. So, it's really the inner cutting that turns that into a really, really fun to watch film. And there was conflict resolution. And does anybody know what shot was sort of signature to the conflict resolution? The hand holding? The hands. Yeah, the hand holding. The hand holding, boom. It's not a coincidence that you know that, I promise Internet, I did not tell her to say this during lunchtime, that is completely random. So, it just proves the point that the information that I wanted you to perceive, you got it, and every single step along the way you got the information. And then you cut from the reconciliation between the parents and the hand holding to the baby holding the finger of the mother. Those kind of visual storytelling cues, where you lead from one thought to another throughout it, that's really what makes your film strong. I wanted to make the point, also, 'cause a lot of people ask me, for weddings and birth announcements, things like that, conflict doesn't have to be evil or a struggle. It can be friendly. All it does is have to be conflict. And the purpose of conflict is to give the viewer a character to project themselves onto, or someone to root against. So there's always a protagonist and an antagonist in every film. And you root for one or the other, depending on who you are. When you're watching The Dark Knight, you're, well most people are rooting for Batman, and most people are rooting against the Joker, and what's so genius about that film is that every person who watches that film, all they can think of is man, Joker's so awesome, and they hate themselves for liking him. And that's really the power of stories. They can get you to sort of feel guilty about the way you feel. And that's when they really start messing with your head. And conflict always exists and it's up to you, the filmmaker, to draw out the emotion from the conflict. And we're going to move into camera placement in a second. Just a second. Before, yeah, we want to take some questions. I'm sure the Internet has some questions about conflict. So let's hear some. We do. Thank you. We do, thank you Internet for asking. We have Juan underscore UQ. Jason from Flint Michigan. Any suggestions on how to depict conflict and maintain the integrity of the overall message? I think it can be easy to overdo the emphasis of conflict depending on the genre. This is a very good question. And in a second we're going to make a very big point about conflict is usually, most of the time, already there for you. You don't have to create it, unless you're creating a short film from scratch, and you have to write it. Conflict will usually exist and it's really up to you as a filmmaker to draw all the emotions out from the conflict by camera placement, camera movement, shot sequencing, linear storytelling, non-linear storytelling. It's those things that enhance the emotion of the conflict. Yeah, we're about to get into that. But you don't necessarily, like Ross can talk about my hair and I can be like whatever you're a punk. There's conflict. And I could punch him for saying that, and then he could punch me back. I could take you. (laughing) We could heighten the conflict. But that's not necessary if you're filmmaking because you can choose different shots and through shot sequencing, wide, medium and close, and put them together in such a way that the lower-level conflict becomes felt in an intense way without it having to become an outright, kind of physical conflict. Right. Payback. Another question from the Internet, from Marilyn is, "Could you give an example of conflict for a wedding?" Yeah. Yeah. First of all, 'cause I asked Ross this question, when he first started developing this I'm like, dude, where's our conflict in wedding? And as we were discussing this, think about this, what is it that we all crave and why is it when we watch a good wedding film we start getting emotional? Because we all crave to be loved and accepted by somebody, unconditionally. And the idea of a wedding is that somebody has done that for you. You're overcoming this conflict in life where you're alone or where you're not accepted. And so, in a sense, every wedding film is the triumph of this conflict, I would call it a cosmic conflict. Fate or destiny. The fate or destiny of not being connected with somebody else in love. And so, a wedding is the triumph of that conflict. So, that's one of the ways in which you can heighten it. Yeah, and even a relational conflict. They're not married until the film ends. So, all the preparation and all the things that go into it, a lot of wedding films will show the bride getting the makeup on, or then building what's happening out there. All of that sort of feeds into the story and at the end of the day, you have a bride and groom standing opposite each other, and at the end of that film, they're going to be together. Just like the birth announcement. They weren't against each other, so to speak. It was a friendly, lovey-dovey sort of conflict there. The word conflict we like to take with a grain of salt because that's the definition, but don't think of it in a negative way all the time. Yeah, and what is the opposition that has been overcome? In the case of the wedding, it's the opposition of life to having that fulfillment in a relationship that we all want. So, you've overcome that opposition, you have that relationship, bam. It's right there built into the equation. I know that you referred to Batman and how it includes two conflicts but you were highlighting one. So we have had a few questions about intentionally including two conflicts. Do you kind of approach it, can you fuse two together on purpose or-- You can fuse more than two. More than two, okay. Oh, yeah. If you watch the Facebook thing, it has them all. And most great movies have three or four conflicts in them, different types of conflicts. Some more apparent than the others. And it's not necessarily, the writer is creating the conflict, but filmmakers are just highlighting and enhancing parts of the conflict that are, they already exists, which we're about to get into in a second. It's there for you. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. You just have to know how to play on the emotions that you're supposed to feel in certain parts. I always say this about a film. You wanted to be like a roller coaster. Not a smooth sailboat ride through the river. If you're on a smooth sailboat ride through the river, you're gonna feel one way all the time, as opposed to a roller coaster. You're gonna be going up, you're gonna be going down. You're gonna have moments where you don't feel anything and then all of a sudden it goes fast again and there's a 50 foot drop and it just pulls you in every single possible direction you can. And the the horror genre of film, I have a love/hate relationship for it. I don't watch horror films at all, but you have to, you respect it because it plays on real fears of people. That's what the idea of it is. I think that's cheap, personally, but it works really, really, really well, which is why it such a popular and cult genre. There's only usually one conflict there, and they're basically hitting you with the wow factor. They're going to make you feel. It's better just to feel something, instead of nothing. So they're playing on the cheap emotion, fear. Think about it this way, when you show a scene with a video camera on a tripod, you get a certain level of interestingness, and then you start to shot sequence it and you get a much higher level. And then you start adding shot sequencing done with inter-cutting stories. One story, now two stories, now three stories. There's all these layers that you can use to build and create your film in such a way that it becomes more intriguing and more effective. It's the same way with conflict. You can start with one conflict. It'll have a certain level of intrigue, then you can add another then you can add another. There's always an additional layer that you can add, whether it's visual, whether it's through the sense of conflict, whether it's for the way in which the story's being told, or how many stories are being told simultaneously to make the film more interesting. Do we have maybe one or two more questions before we go on? We do. We have two good ones. Yeah, go on. So one is from Richard Ebby. Is suspense the same as conflict? No. Suspense is, suspense is drawing out of the conflict and the conflict resolution. Suspense is sort of-- The act of wondering whether the conflict will be resolved. Exactly. Or how. Yeah, well put, yes. 'Cause we pretty much always know it will. Yeah, exactly. We know that every film will come to some sort of conclusion at some point and we just want to find out how and why and how it makes sense. Just like fear in a horror genre, it's an emotion we can play on relatively easily. And it sort of goes back to the gift, with the gift thing. In the backwards version, the footage of buying the gift, it was useless. But when we intercut them together, the suspense of what's inside the gift is now drawn out, not because of what happened, but because of where I put the footage and what order I placed it in that created that suspense. Conflict usually exists. It's a filmmaker's job to create and draw the suspense.
Ratings and Reviews
a Creativelive Student
Great 3-day workshop! I work for a college, teaching students to communicate via the video medium, as well as producing video for promo and events. This video is super useful to me... The most basic info was review, but it's great to see another team's approach to explaining and teaching the concepts. Some of the more advanced materials is on level or a reach for what I'm doing, so it's teaching me to move forward with my abilities. Just a note to the Creative Live folks, I love the idea of viewing for free and buy if you like to see again. I was able to catch a half hour here and there, which was enough to convince me to buy the whole thing. I wouldn't have been likely to plunk down $99 for a video when there really is so much out there for free. The difference, and reason it is worth it, is because this is so well organized and complete, and discusses a broad range of budgets as well as info for a range of skill levels. This live for free then pay to download model is great.
a Creativelive Student
TERRIFIC workshop! Extremely helpful/educational ... and rather entertaining, too. (Bear in mind, I'm new to the cinematography end of things.) I'm pretty sure, no matter where you may be on the experience scale, you'll get enough ideas from this program to make it well worth your watching. I love the way they prioritize equipment needs & wants, and help us sift through the PILE of options out there. And their "$750 starter set-up" was definitely an eye-opener. (Um ... that's AFTER your camera and lenses, guys.) It's critical (and difficult) to maintain audience interest over a 3-day course ... otherwise, even the best material will go right over our heads. But Jeff and Ross were perfect together -- playing off, and feeding, each other continuously. Sometimes their banter is used for clarifying potentially confusing concepts ... and other times just for chuckles. All-in-all, I would recommend this to any but (perhaps) the REALLY advanced cinematographers out there. (Scorsese ... keep your wallet in your pocket.) For anyone considering purchasing the videos, consider this: Most of us who've already bought them ... did so AFTER watching a considerable amount of the workshop for free. That should tell you something of the quality of this material. Thanks, Jeff and Ross, and Creative Live!
I am thankful that I found CreativeLive and signed up for this class. For a couple of years I have been looking for a comprehensive course to teach me about filmmaking for the independent artist. I have sought the professional guidance of "people in the business" but they were more interested in taking your money than helping. And they were very condescending and arrogant. At CreativeLive I have found people who are like me and willing to share their knowledge with me. This particular course gave me the foundation to know what to purchase and where to start in my first efforts of filmmaking. This course, though very informative, I would wish if was a bit more technically than theoretical. Ross is great at what he does but I felt spent too much time on too many theoretical aspects of filmmaking and not enough fundamentals. Jeff was better at explaining the technical aspects of filmmaking but did not speak as much as Ross. Overall, I find that Jeff and Ross were wonderful teachers and I learned so much from them. I am looking forward to enrolling in additional classes at CreativeLive and hopefully if Jeff and Ross teach more courses, I will sign up. Thank you so very much Jeff, Ross and the CreativeLive team!