Ken Burns On Story

The common story is 1 + 1 = 2,  the real genuine stories is the 1 + 1 = 3 … where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” – Ken Burns

Ken Burns is one of those giants I mentioned before. What a great filmmaker and storyteller.  After reading Brian McDonald’s article, Yes, Documentaries Also Use Story Structure, I took a real hard look at myself and said, “Hey, this is another option to make films. To  tell real stories. To speak truth.” Since then, I’ve been exploring the field.

Jean Luc Goddard said cinema is truth 24 times a second. Maybe. It’s lying 24 times a second too, all the time, all story is manipulation. Is there acceptable manipulation? You bet. People say oh boy, I was so moved to tears in your film. That’s a good thing? That was, I manipulated that. That’s part of storytelling. I didn’t do it dis-genuinely, I did it sincerely, I am moved by that too, that’s manipulation. Truth is we hope a byproduct of the best of our stories and yet there are many, many different kinds of truths and an emotional truth is something that you have to build.

This is what excites me: that a documentary can carry deep emotion. Larger and with more depth than fiction.  Yes, we the storyteller have the power to manipulate. But I wouldn’t like to call it manipulation. I prefer direction. Then let the viewer or reader decide.

Ok, maybe yes, there is a tiny bit of manipulation.

What ever the case is, I’m in search of a story – for that 3.  Where is it?  Where are you?

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