i’ve been working in film and tv for a long time, and am well versed in so-called “traditional” methods of storytelling. i know about story arcs, conflict, sympathetic and unsympathetic characters, and the concept of a character needing to go on a journey of some sorts in order to create an engaging narrative. the rules are pretty much the same in documentary as they are in fiction, which surprises a lot of people i’ve talked to about my old job — many of them seem to think that docs don’t need to follow those same guidelines, when in fact it might be even more crucial for a non-fiction creator to be aware of story and how important it is to create a meaningful one to keep your audience engaged.
my goal for collective storytelling, then, is to examine how people follow those guidelines in everyday life. more specifically, i’m really intrigued by the idea of user-generated content and how many different people from many different backgrounds can have similar “storylines” or “plot points” in their lives. i want to look at weaving the seemingly minute stories and details of individual experiences into an overarching narrative that could potentially have some kind of universal thematic relevance.
i’ve thought of a few ways i could potentially do this in the weeks leading up to class, but the most interesting thing to me is the idea of the confessional booth, as exemplified by the mtv show “the real world.” i’ve never been a real fan of the show, but have always been intrigued by the difference between what comes out of the confessional and what comes out of the professional, sit-down interviews included in the show as well. in contrast to the high production value of the rest of the show, the confessional booth’s footage is grainy, unmanned, and almost home-video like. it’s (supposedly) filmed by a constantly running camera in a small room, apart from the rest of the house, where the confessor doesn’t risk being heard as he/she pours his/her heart out.
it’s really interesting to me how people are so willing to confess to such personal things in such a public manner — through this kind of footage, or through diaries, blogs, or other content on the internet. i’m guilty of this myself; i used to write in a public livejournal (which has since been deleted), and wrote in a way in which i spun the daily minutiae of my life into big, epic stories that seemed like the most important things in the world. i often wonder if other people’s brains work in the same way — turning everyday events in their lives into narratives of giant proportions that influence how they behave, speak, and even think.
this started out as a joke, but i’d love to be able to put a confessional-style camera somewhere on the itp floor (the sound booth in room 20 has been suggested) for the semester, and track the universality of the population’s existence. who’s inclined to go in there and spill their guts? what do people talk about? do people feel the same things at the same point in the semester, and if not, what accounts for the difference? i think it would be fascinating to get footage of all of this, and knit it together chronologically to examine if the itp experience is the same for everyone, even though it feels so unique to every person enrolled or involved in this program.