This important theme has been on my mind the past couple of weeks. Today, I am compelled to share with you the highlights, insights and gifts of wisdom dropped in my lap over past 14 days. Dropped by some sort of storytelling god who has been sitting on my shoulder for a fortnight now – my angel? my albatross?….reminding me that deep artistic (not to mention life) satisfaction …ALWAYS BLOOMS OUT OF THE MINUTIAE. It’s been a good 14 days, dear readers. Get ready for some nuggets of wisdom from the Minutiae Heroes I’ve run into recently – nuggets intended to explode-open your own personal genius.
Five Invaluable (Free!) Reminders that will Multiply Your Greatness:
1. From Tariq Tapa: Moviemaker to watch, outstanding storyteller: “Be the expert of your film.”
I had the chance to meet with Tariq about a week ago. What a lucky wack in the head. Tariq took me back to my theatre school days, where I was first exposed to the great importance of storytelling research. Tariq reminded me of the utter importance of script-breakdown/break-a-part, with a sweet tutorial on How To Prep Like A Maniac. Prep until the cows come home. Prep like no one’s prepped before. Prep in the way that only the True Leader of a movie must be prepped. He wasn’t just talking about location, dialect and wardrobe of the period. No way. Tariq reminded me of the immense importance of knowing the specific role in a screenplay, of every character, every scene, every beat, every line, in relationship to the overall arc of your tale. Every character/scene/beat/line uniquely serves your story in its own specific way. And how do each of these elements evolve, moment to moment. The minutiae of storytelling. This kind of in-depth prep requires time & focus. And always pays off. Worth the work.
Tariq is about to go into production on his next film. For each page in his script, Tariq has spent hours and weeks answering specific questions for himself, in order to field any and all questions posed to him before, during or after shooting. He will be able to explain & defend every part of the process, in terms of how it will serve his story. You should see his director’s book. This is one stupendously-prepped director. Tariq: “Be the expert of your film. How? Prep prep prep prep prep prep. Know your movie inside and out, backwards and forwards.” Tariq’s ZERO BRIDGE is a multiple award winner; Tariq himself is a nominee for both the Film Independent’s Spirit Awards’ “Someone To Watch Award” and the “John Cassavetes Award”.
This I heard recently in an interview with the enthusiastically thorough Zackham on the podcast The Q and A with Jeff Goldsmith. If you haven’t yet discovered this podcast dear reader, please run-don’t-walk to your laptop and lend an ear to this puppy. Jeff Goldsmith is yet another Minutiae Hero of mine. His interviews are impeccable. In summation again: Every tiny, tedious, irritating, painstaking bit of logistical work you do – everything from multiple readings of your script to endless, laborious location scouts – the absolute meticulousness of this work will show up in your end product. Will set it apart. Uncompromising prep = agonizing minutiae = timeless, lasting, world class cinema. Absolutely worth the work.
3. From Luke Fedoroff, on his debut feature film screening: “The World Premiere of Hunt The Maguffin is now a Hospital Benefit Screening.”
Holy heck the planning this guy is doing. Never mind the producing of his charming, esoteric first film Hunt The Maguffin (which he also did), Luke Fedoroff is now producing his world premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. And donating the the evening’s entire proceeds to the promotion of healing through mediation. What a grand event this is going to be. All are welcome: come and be inspired here in Los Angeles, August 2013. – So it was when I joined Fedoroff for a ‘walk-through’ at the theatre where we discussed ticket sales, guest check-in, security, table & chair load-in, granola bars, lavatories and linens, that I considered again the nobility of the minutiae. I am in awe of the amount of work that Fedoroff is putting into his debut film. He is tireless when it comes to the details. And all for a tremendously important cause. This fastidious, heartfelt prep work creates a kind of resonance. A kind of Grace. Commitment to the Minutiae invites Transcendence.
4. From the esteemed, accomplished & tireless L.A. film collective WeMakeMovies Board Members: “Thank you for volunteering.”
Holy hamburgers these cats are the Mighty Warriors of the Minutiae. Ever run a film collective? The organization behind the easy affable front of a “workshop night” is like the buzzing inside of a raging beehive on an outwardly serene, sunny day. Currently in the works: the inaugural WeMakeMovies/Duly Noted/Equal Writes Screenplay Competition – Finalist Announcement Night. On the team blotter: The ticket sales, the volunteers, the box office, the greeters, the t-shirts, the step-and-repeat, the cameras, the run-thru. All of this spearheaded by one extraordinary Elan O’Connor. Yes, today I am singling you out, Elan O’Connor: Accomplished Actress & Writer – also an extraordinary professional chef, also Head of Casting and the ADMINISTRATIVE GODDESS of WeMakeMovies.org. Master of the WMM minutiae, Elan is a force to be reckoned with. Meet her this coming June 30, where she will be running the show. The rest of us will be taking orders.
5) ….And from Sam Zvibleman, writer, director and all around do-what-needs-to-be-done filmmaker: “Aim for the highest possible standards.”
Zvibleman is also smitten with The Minutiae. Unable to love any less. This high standard is the curse of an auteur. The ball-and-chain of a filmmaker you’ll be hearing more and more about, and soon. I name Zvibleman here, good reader, as a final inspiration to you to explore your story details to their fullest. To think your project through with the utmost reverence & care. This is Zvibleman’s M.O. When Sam asked me to be a sounding board for a short screenplay of his, we met not once or twice, but monthly, for a year. We spent a year in coffee shops elucidating the specifics of his plot & the exact stakes of his characters. Check out this gentleman’s work, dear hungry storyteller, and let your imagination receive a hearty butt-kicking. Good medicine for all of us. Sam co-wrote & co-produced the indie feature film The Sound & The Shadow due out 2014. He is also a sought-after script editor / script doctor. Among his spec scripts are Imagine The Moon, a family dramedy about a boy who wants to take his dream girl to the Moon, and a hush-hush provocative and controversial satire feature film he is set to direct. Meet him – and see his short film The Rwanda Blend here in Los Angeles, June 1st.
Long story short, dear fellow filmmaker: Delve, delve into the fine points. Dig and dig to unearth the particulars. Work and work to uncover the luminous minutiae of your own inventions. If The Minutiae Be The Food Of Love, Plan On.
Tara Samuel is a script consultant and editor on fire about sharpening your screenplay. She is your Script Kicker. In close collaboration with you the client, Samuel zeroes in on the specificity of your characters, hones your story rhythm and maximizes your audience engagement helping you to create a perfect story-ride www.scriptkicker.