Betsy Loves, Writing

Once upon a time at the Oscars

Hi guys. Sorry for the lack of posts – I blame the new job entirely, which, incidentally, is awesome! Anyway, hopefully I won’t disappear again any time soon.

Now, I appreciate this is a little late, but I thought I’d share this piece for the website of my new company all about the Oscars and storytelling. Here’s a link – scarlettabbott- The Oscars – and it also got picked up by an industry newsletter so I’m pretty chuffed by that! And just for kicks, I’ve pasted the full copy below as well. Hope you like it.

The Oscars

The Oscars are on our radar this week at scarlettabbott. Why? Well, we’d be lying if we said the retrospective in-depth critique of the night’s sartorial choices isn’t part of the reason. But mostly we love the glitziest ceremony in the celebrity calendar for the stories at their core. And no, we don’t mean who insulted whom or which clumsy starlet fell off the stage. We mean the stories of the films themselves: the big juicy tales that set previously placid pulses racing, brought tears to the eyes of the most stiff-lipped viewer, turned typically reserved titters to belly-aching guffaws, and drew the most reluctant of us deep into the lives of others.

A great story is so much more than the sum of its parts; more than just the holy trinity of characters, plot and narrative. Creating a compelling and nuanced cast of three-dimensional characters is a start. Add to that a rollercoaster ride of a plot for an even better start. But, more than anything else, it’s a narrative that takes those characters and that plot, and breathes life into both. The narrative is the ‘who’ and the ‘how’; the narrative is the heart of the story – it’s the storytelling.

It comes as no surprise that seven out of the eight films nominated for Best Picture have also been nominated for either Best Original or Adapted Screenplay as well. Sure, there is a lot of A-list casting – Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Emma Stone for starters, who all know their way around a character they can sink their teeth into. There are several cracking plots – the life of legendary physicist Stephen Hawking for one, but it’s the way the stories are told that makes them great.

Take Boyhood. The six-time Oscar nominated film depicts the coming of age of Mason Evans – a young boy in Texas growing up with divorced parents. An unknown actor and an arguably mundane plot are not necessarily the stuff of little gold statuette dreams but then there’s the narrative. Because when you see Mason grow up, you actually do – there’s no clever make-up and no adolescent actor taking over, just a real-life young boy filmed over the course of 12 years – and that’s ground breaking. As viewers, we grow up with Mason – progress, develop – and most important of all, we come to care. And when a story makes you care, when you’re emotionally engaged, great things happen- in the cinema, on the awards stage, or in your business.

While we might not all be winning Oscars just yet, a great IC team has a nose for a great story, and more importantly, knows how to make your story great, and how to make people care. Are you sitting comfortably?

Then let’s begin…