Breaking mediums in storytelling

Issue 67: How starting with the story allows creative exploration in how you tell it

Throughout the creative process, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at the picture. We’re often creating solutions that seek an actual problem. This holds true to storytelling. The medium in which the story is told is held like a dogma in what it is, and what it is not. In recent years, movies made by Disney’s Marvel Studios gets a lot of criticism as not being cinema. Acclaimed directors such as Martin Scorsese, Denis Villeneuve, and Ridley Scott have all taken shots, making critiques that it’s not cinema, copy/paste stories, or simply rubbish.

My opinion of Marvel films is they are stories that exist in a medium that’s subverted. What if we looked at Marvel movies in the same way we do roller coaster rides? They’re family-friendly, entertaining, and optimized for simple thrills. If you look at the movies through that lens, they’re excellent. This is one example of taking a conventional medium (film) and creating a new experience around it (entertainment). Creating starting with the medium is too solution-oriented. It begins with the story you want to tell.

  • Story: The narrative is the most important and memorable. This is the foundation of what comes after it

  • Experience: How someone feels and perceives the story and in which they interact with it

  • Interaction: The communication or direct involvement with the medium

  • Medium: The substance in which a human interacts with, and how they experience the story

Breaking the conventional medium you’re used to allows different ways to tell stories. Anfernee Grant created a story for his daughter called The Big Bed that he built in Webflow. If Grant started with the conventional method, it likely would have been a printed book. By starting with the story, space was allowed to explore different mediums in which the user can experience and interact with it.

In 1984, legendary musician Prince released a movie called Purple Rain. However, it really wasn’t a movie, but a music video or album that took the form of a movie. Hideo Kojima, creator of the infamous Metal Gear Solid video games grew up wanting to be a filmmaker, and it shows when he created the game on Playstation. The game was loaded with so many cutscenes that for the end-user it felt like watching a movie that you had to press buttons from time to time. The infusion of video games and film changed how someone can interact with a movie.

I’ve contemplated the idea of writing a book as a personal goal. What I’ve realized in the past few years is writing a book is not the goal, but instead, it’s telling stories. In many ways, this newsletter is a way to tell stories. Perhaps building an interactive web experience is another way to tell stories and doesn’t have to be bound in a book.

Apps can be art. NFTs can be a form of patronage. Code is poetry. The story supersedes the medium.


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