Film Courage: Can we go back to the graph
for a moment and see the intensity? Dr. Ken Atchity, Author/Producer: Sure [holds
up the graph] this shows you what you’re doing. You’re writing little short sentences and
you’re putting hyphens and then you’re putting a line connecting them all. But then when you put it on the side you can
see the shape of your story and you can see where it needs some attention. There are all these peaks here but no real
valleys but it would be much more dramatic if you removed some of the intensity or you
removed or you added less intense scenes in here so that the rises would be greater. And it could be that everything is just fine
when you do this and it looks really perfect but most of the time you’ll discover that
it’s not a roller coaster ride which you want your reader to go on. You want them to be screaming all the time
basically. Film Courage: And then toward the end you
see the highest peak and then it levels down. Ken: Yes, it levels down and in today’s
storytelling world maybe this is not the right way to end a story. It might be better to end on a higher peak. Film Courage: That is JAWS? Ken: No this is just a made up story that
we use as an example. That’s just like Clyde Millie outlined the
GRAPES OF WRATH, you sit down with a movie like JAWS or THE MEG that’s coming out in
August from Warner Brothers and chart it and you’ll see how conscious the story is of
these ups and downs. People, they know what they’re doing. Directors are known for their ability to do
that. If you want a crazy all out screaming ride,
go see LAURA CROFT or one of the JAMES BOND movies and you’ll see that this is what
they try and deliver to you. And if you want a more tempered ride where
you can get deeper into the story because you have a moment to rest between peaks, then
you’ll see another kind of story. Film Courage: You were saying that today’s
peaks might end a little higher? Would that be because there might be a possibility
of a sequel or… Ken: Yes, usually it’s that and it’s also
because ever since them moments that STAR WARS hit the screens, I’ll never forget
that moment because when I watched that movie I thought “This is a watershed in the history
of movies. We will never look at movies the same way
again,” because the scenes were the shortest scenes I’ve ever seen. Scenes before that probably averaged two to
three minutes but in STAR WARS the scenes seemed like they lasted 6 seconds. For 10 seconds and you could not see everything
in the seen which made you instantly fall in love with the movie because you wouldn’t
believe in the world because it was so chocked full of stuff you couldn’t see it all, you
just have to see it again. And I thought “This is brilliant.” And it was a foreshadowing of the attention
span that we are now fully living with. We weren’t quite there yet when it came
out. It was a little bit ahead of its time. But it totally predicted the world we live
in now where our attention span is just minute because we’re being bombarded by so many
pieces of information from so many directions. We are distracted all the time and…the text
is ringing…the phone is ringing…the email is ringing…are head is ringing…our eyes
are buzzing. Somebody said Americans look at 52,000 commercials
every day in a normal day and I think that’s true. I mean assuming you commute to work and you’re
looking at everything out there, busses going by, billboards, etc. So I think there is another example of a filmmaker
who understood the audience psychology and who directly addressed it, who directly addressed
that that is what he’s all about grabbing your psychology and playing with it and you
love it because nobody has done that to you before. Nobody was making movies that you had to immediately
go see again because you had to see what that little Gizmo was in the far corner that you
didn’t happen to focus on and now the scene is over and you’re on to another scene and
you missed that, so you’ve got to go back to train your eye to watch for that corner
and…you know how that is you’re always thinking “Next time I watch it I’m going
to watch this corner or this corner because I know I don’t have the chance to see it
all.” And that is really screwing with the psychology
of the audience…love that.