the heart of man

 

I don’t have a movie review at the ready, but I think something I wrote in my review of Inside Out would be relevant here:

Our lives are constantly marked by the reality of being in statu viae — “on the way”… In this life, we are never at home in the sense of a place of final rest. Our lives are shaped continually by hellos and goodbyes of various kinds — with other people, with places, and with places within.

While this is true of all people without exception, we sometimes feel isolated, believing that, while we can celebrate the hellos together, we cannot grieve the losses together (even with those we love and who love us). Yet sadness expressed can be isolation overcome. Paradoxically, grief shared can become sadness transformed and touched by joy, because our greatest need as humans is not to experience unqualified and perpetual joy, but to experience life in communion with others.

20th anniversary of Act One: Writing for Hollywood

Today (January 25, 2019) marks the 20th anniversary of the Act One program.

Below, I’m linking to a fascinating interview with Barbara Nicolosi Harrington about the origins of Act One, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of its founding.

Act One became an important part of my own story when I participated in the 30-day Chicago Act One writing program in the summer of 2002. I’m so grateful to Barbara and everyone else who made it possible for the program to exist, and for me to attend. (For example, my boss at the time not only gave me 30 days off to attend the program, but also covered my tuition). I’m also grateful for all of the extraordinary friends I made via the program and the subsequent move to Hollywood.

It seems fitting that Act One was launched on January 25, the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. It also falls during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. As Barbara describes in the interview, Act One has become a beautiful example of inter-denominational cooperation and common mission.

Also, I know that Saint Paul is one of Barbara’s patron saints. She was a member of the Daughters of Saint Paul for nine years. As a result, there’s certainly a bit of the ardor of Saint Paul in her. Check out this prayer she once wrote: Christians and Media: A Prayer for Forgiveness.

Please consider making a donation to Act One by clicking here.

 

epiphanies and propaganda

I’ve just uploaded a talk from Act One’s October 2008 Story Symposium:

“Story as Epiphany” by Chris Riley

After Chris spends about 20 minutes unpacking the notion of epiphanies in movie storytelling, and asking questions about the difference between epiphanies and moments of propaganda, he opened the discussion to the panel.

As a teaser, here’s what panelist Dr. Peter Kreeft had to offer to the conversation:

In an epiphany, you see something new. You don’t just get soothed by something you’ve known before, and you don’t just get argued into something which grates on you. In an epiphany, you see something new and yet it’s old. You always knew it, but you didn’t know that you knew it until this moment, so it’s coming from inside you…. If you’re inside your art, instead of manipulating it from outside, however gently, you can appeal to that inner force in the audience: deep calls unto deep. Because in some mysterious way, your heart and the audience’s heart are much closer than anything else in you to the audience, including the mind.

You can listen to the entire presentation below.

the big idea in cinema storytelling

In October of 2008, Act One: Training for Hollywood held a two-day symposium on storytelling.

The format — a presentation followed by a roundtable discussion with a group of panelists — was a great way to percolate and explore ideas. The panelists and presenters included:

  • Dean Batali, Executive Producer, That 70’s Show, writer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Bobette Buster, Creative Executive and International Story Consultant
  • Karen Hall, writer on several shows, including M*A*S*H, Judging Amy, Hill Street Blues, and Moonlighting
  • Dr. Peter Kreeft, renowned philosopher and author of over 50 titles, including Socrates Meets Jesus
  • Bill Marsilii, Screenwriter, Deja Vu
  • David Mc Fadezean, Executive Producer, Home Improvement, What Women Want
  • Barbara Nicolosi, Act One Founder, Screenwriter, VP Development, Origin Entertainment
  • Chris Riley, Screenwriter and Author, The Hollywood Standard
  • Chuck Slocum, Assistant Executive Director, Writer’s Guild of America

I helped to audio record the entire event. The first podcast is now available; it’s a presentation by Bobette Buster on “The Big Idea.” (Note: The slides that accompanied the presentation may be viewed here).