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Documentary Storytelling, 4th Edition by Sheila Curran Bernard

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Chapter 4 Story Structure

A good way to gauge the status of a film in progress is to ask the filmmaker to tell you the story of the film in a brief, one- or two-paragraph pitch. If he or she immediately launches into a lengthy description of the opening shot or an amazing scene, the film might be in trouble. Visuals serve a story; they are not the story. Along the same lines, if the filmmaker starts to talk about the subject in broad terms—the film is about a soccer team, or World War II, or a famous author—there may also be a problem. To really get to the heart of the story, you need to have a sharper focus: What about World War II or that author or team? Given that subject, what story are you telling and how are you telling it?

This is where ...

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