What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

March 7, 2012

Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story (talk on TED) transcript

This is one of the best video I have heard about storytelling. The man talking in the video is of course Andrew Stanton.

Below is a transcript of the key points that he made on the video for personal use. 

- Don't fuck a goat. At least do not let people know..... because your other deeds will pale to it.

- Story telling is joke telling. Its knowing your punchline, your ending..... Knowing that everything you are saying from the 1st sentance to the last is leading to a SINGULAR GOAL.

And Ideally, confirming some truth that deepens our understanding of who we are as HUMAN BEINGS.

- Stories are from who we are. We all want affirmation that our lives have meaning. And nothing have greater affirmation then we connect through stories. It allows us to experience the similarity between ourselves and through others. (real and imagined)
The greatest thing about learning to write stories is, you realise that it really teaches you about life, your life your lovers life, everyone's life, the choices the conflicts the understanding.

- his greatest story commendment - "MAKE ME CARE". pls..emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically, JUST make me care.

- A good story should make a promise. A promise that this story will lead somewhere that is worth your time. And also can be precieved that a scene needs to be intriguing to lead you in, to tantalise you with the promise of something more to come.

- Having a narrator is a fantastic device. Its like a guy inviting you to a campfire. Its going to be worth your time. A well told promise is like a pebble on a slingshot that will push you through the end.

- Story telling without dialog is the purest form of cinematic story telling. The most inclusive approach you can take.

- It confirms his hunch that audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just do not want to know that they are doing that. Your job as a storyteller is hide the fact that you are making them work for their meal.

- We are born problem solvers. We are compelled to deduce, deduct.. Its this well organise ABSENCE of information that draws audience in.

 - Unifying Theory of 2+2. Make the audience put things together. Dun give them 4. but 2+2

- The elements you provide and the order you put them in is crucial to whether you succeed or fail to engage the audience. The invisible application that holds the attention of the story.

- Stories ain't science. Its not exact. They are inevitable if they are good but not predictable.

- Judith Weston believe that all well-drawn characters have a spine. And the idea is that the character have a "inner motor". A dominant unconcious goal that they are striving for. An itch that they can't scratch. example : Michael Corleone's spine was probably to please his father. That is what drove his choices. Even after his father's death.

This was a huge moment for Stanton,who took this on as a dominant theme for his own storytelling. Wall-E was to find beauty, Nemo's father was to prevent harm.
And these spine do not always drive you to make the best choices. Sometimes they lead you to make horrible choices.

He firmly believes that you are born with a temperament and wired a certain way and do not have a say in it. And there is no changing it. All you can do, is to learn to recognise it and own it. Some are born with positive, some with negative.. But a major treshold is passed when you mature enough to acknowledge what DRIVES you. And take the wheel and stir it.

We are all learning who we are all the time. Everyone. That is why change is fundamental in story. Hooked on storytelling, he read everything he could, and found the phrase by William Archer: “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.” 

- When you tell a story, have you constructed anticipation?

- Have you made me want to know what will happen next in the short term?

- More importantly, have you make me want to know how it will all conclude in the long term?

- Have you constructed honest conflicts with truth that create doubt in what the outcome might be?
This incredibly insightful definition helped him to understand how to fuse short-term and long-term tensions in narrative.

secret rules for their hunches..
1. no songs
2. no "I want moment" moment
3. no happy village
4. no love story.

“Thank goodness we were too young, rebellious and contrarian,”. It gave them determination that you can build a better story.

- Story telling have guidelines. Not hard fast rules.

- Another fundamental rule is liking your main character.  It was naive to have Woody go through a arc just for the sake of learning a lesson. i.e He has to be selfless at the end, so make him selfish 1st...
How do you make a a selfish character likable? You can make him kind, generous, funny, considerate as long as the one condition is met for him. i.e he stays the top toy.

-  That is what it really is....We all live life conditionally. we are all willing to play by the rules and follow things along... as long as certain conditions are met... after that..all bets are off...

- He truely understood that story have a theme. There is a grand design under the story? There was something more being said. Every shot, every scene every line enforces that? For Lawrence of Arabia, it was "Who are you?" There was a guideline, a roadmap. Everything he did in that movie was an attempt for him to figure out what his place was in the world. A strong theme is always running through a well told story.

- Can you evoke wonder? Its honest, completely innocent. It can't be artificially invoked. For him, there is no greater ability then the gift of another human being giving you that feeling.
 To hold them still, just for a brief moment in their day and have them surrender to wonder.

- The affirmation that you are alive reaches you to a cellular level. And when you do it to another artist, you feel compelled to pass it on.

When he was four, Stanton recalls asking his father about two scars on his ankle. He told him he’d been born prematurely. “The doctor took a look at this yellow kid with black teeth and told my mother I wouldn’t live. I lived in the hospital for months. And I did live, and that made me special.” As to whether he believes that, he doesn’t know, but he does know he wanted to strive at being worthy of the second chance he was given. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what ultimately led him to speak here at TED2012 today.

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