Sunday, October 02, 2011

Why we tell stories

Little Lukas is gorgeous. I took this this  morning.

His first reaction entering the house is to dart after George, the cat,  making those exemplary scary attack sounds, which all cats the world over fear from human beings around a foot in height and not quite ready to say "C'mon here cat, who loves youuuuu. Cueeey".

I'm in Bray, a coastal town in Dublin on a one week retreat with PhD colleagues - all nearing their write up stage. That culmination of five, six years work now to be delineated into a comprehensible and comprehensive argument.

PhD colleagues at the SMARTlab, UCD
The environment is one any writer craves. No television, radio, few worldly distractions. Instead space, the sea on your doorstep, and the kindness of colleagues and PhD staff who can help you reify your thoughts, build up that all important knowledge tablet.

1. Through the window - shot taken working on desk
2. Then 15 paces outside the house - the sea
Remarkably I seem to have got more done in the last three days; the thought of just coming here, being an added spur, than I have in a long while. From a morass of words I believe I have constructed something in the spirit of dialectics that builds on a pervasive and acceptable model within film and aesthetics.

Of course that it what I believe, yet it may well not be the case for you, when it's published. Doctorates, our Dean tells us are meant to break eggs, and in the process you may well upset a few people.

Why we tell stories
Over breakfast, I find myself talking with friends about transitions and space, and the essence of factual films, and fiction for that matter.

Why are we drawn to stories, why do we like telling them? The Epic of Gilgamesh is a starting point. Yet there exist a host of reasons. Some film makers like seeing themselves, others showing their friends what they do. Some film makers pursue more personal quests other than to entertain.

My reasons involve change. Stories that involve the interstices of one's life where uncertainty momentarily rules. But where the conviction of the subject, their mental strength within this change signals - what ever it is they want, will be fought for.

Subjects from Tahrir Memento - film trailer screened at the Sheffield Doc festival

These stories exist all around us, but the state I'm interested in exploring is more Deleuzian than physical. Though yes, the physicality of the subjects must be shown as well. That's what Tahrir Memento tried to capture: young people witnessing personal change. That change became allegorical for the country as a whole. Hence many people might identify with it.

And therein is the cause-effect of my idyll for stories. That by way of pleasing myself - for I am the maker and audience's barometer [ dangerous and full of pitfalls if you're an inexperienced video journalist] I make something that I hope inspires others.

It's not an altruistic pursuit, for what attracts me, may not necessarily attract others. However I'm quietly confident that through out the years of working in various broadcast and public institutions you become attuned to what may have universal attributes.

A story was recounted this morning. A football player whose career is coming to an end. Injuries have got the better of him. This individual has now put his mind to coaching others at a local level. Therein is change. How might the footballer do?

We can't tell, but I do know that fighting spirit that made him a formidable player at a high level will be evident for others.

There will be doubts, there always is, but there will likely be a magical ingredient that we all will be mesmerized by. It is one we wish we could bottle to help our own lives - that's what my camera wishes to capture.

And that,  if anything is factual film making - one of a couple of reasons why we tell stories. The writing continues...