Watch: Three Extremely Human Tactics Taika Waititi Uses to Make His Stories Relatable

The ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ director revels in humanity.

Sometimes the only road to true realism goes right through the imagination. Take, for instance, the work of Taika Waititi. His films show like slice-of-life dramas someone wrote in an unconscious state, dropping elements and storytelling techniques into them that could only be found in dreams. In so doing, Waititi has made himself one of the world’s most popular directors. How you get from the dark, dark humor of Things We Do in the Shadows, which he co-directed, to Thor: Ragnarok, his latest, a blockbuster, is probably best left his secret. And yet there are a few elements we can observe that help tell the story, and this video from YouTube channel We Need to Talk About Film helps sort them out elegantly and gracefully.

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Documentarians – look to family stories for inspiration

The holidays are quickly approaching; for many of us, this means reconnecting with loved ones over hearty meals and meaningful conversation. This year as you sit around the dinner table, consider the stories that are shared and how they may find a life on film. Your next documentary project may be closer than you think. 

Strong trust leads to good access

In nonfiction storytelling, the term “access” refers to a character’s level of comfort with being featured in a story. When a character is supplying factual information – such as scientific evidence – strong access isn’t essential. However, when the character is putting themselves in an emotionally vulnerable situation – perhaps they are recounting a story about how they dealt with a difficult time in their life – strong access becomes an essential element of producing a compelling film in an ethical manner.

Unlike journalistic access, which typically only requires a one-time interview commitment, documentary access is not fostered overnight; instead, it is nurtured over months and often years of shoots and interviews. With time, the character becomes increasingly comfortable in the presence of the video camera, tending to open up and let the filmmaker deeper into their story. As the filmmaker becomes increasingly unobtrusive, the character lets their guard down.

In a healthy documentarian-subject relationship, interviewees must trust that their interviewer is going to represent them in an accurate and non-exploitative manner. However, when interviewing close friends or family with whom you have long-established relationships, this level of trust is often already present. This may allow you to bypass the length of time it takes to gain access, thus allowing you to focus your energy on telling the story effectively.

Access to home videos

Think of all the old VHS tapes collecting dusk in your parents’ attic. Or the bins of old photographs in your grandparents’ basement. Maybe you’ve forgotten about the photos and videos waiting to be uncovered on the camera rolls of your old phones and laptops.

Obtaining the rights to images and videos that don’t belong to you can be an expensive and time-consuming procedure; it is much easier to obtain permission to use videos that belong to people you already know.

Home videos can be powerful because they bring the past to life; when juxtaposed with present-day footage, the use of found footage can be a powerful method of showing your characters’ evolution over a period of time.

Family stories are exclusive

Filmmakers often dream of having the exclusive rights to a story, a phenomenon that occurs when a filmmaker has sole access to individuals with a compelling story. Having the exclusive rights to a story is a good bargaining chip when conferring with potential investors. You will need to be able to communicate why you – and only you – should be the one to tell the story. Without exclusive access, you will be unable to distinguish yourself from other filmmakers who desire to tell the same story.

Thankfully, unless your friends or family are famous or otherwise high-profile, you will likely be unrivaled for exclusive access.

An example:

In Memories of a Penitent Heart, Puerto Rican filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo communicates her catholic family’s struggle to accept her gay uncle Miguel, who died of AIDS in the 1980s. Through photographs, audio recordings, letters, and interviews with family, Aldarondo reconstructs Miguel’s life, the conditions surrounding his death, and the disconnect between his legacy and reality.

Aldarondo is the only person who could have told her uncle’s story. She had the exclusive access to interviewing family members and rifling through old home movies. She had already built trust with her interview subjects, so she could instead focus her efforts on telling the strongest possible story.

Getting started

Think about a story within your family that only you could tell. Perhaps your family has a history of mental illness. Or alcohol abuse. Maybe political divisions have led to familial tension. Maybe you’re curious about an uncle’s early death, as Cecilia Aldarondo was. Consider the struggles that are unique to your family and consider how you may be in a unique position to communicate these via film.

A pre-emptive warning…

Relationships between filmmaker and subject can be delicate yet enriching. Documentary filmmakers are constantly walking the fine line between ethical storytelling and exploitation. They often develop very close relationships with their characters, yet there is also the potential for misunderstandings to give rise to hurt feelings. It is important that the characters you interview in your film understand your long-term plan for distribution. It is also important that they consent to the use of their image, likeness, and story.

There is more personal risk when making a film about close friends or family because you may strain relationships. Keep this in mind throughout all stages of production. Telling family stories can be extremely powerful if done right. Though it’s also important not to burn any bridges.

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The Experiment Noah Baumbach Undertook to Create Dysfunction Drama ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’

We’ll bet most of you can relate to the protagonists of ‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’.

Noah Baumbach returns to a familiar familial territory with his latest movie The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), and we certainly haven’t grown bored of his work with the theme. The prolific director’s career really took off after 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, a film whose dark humor made even the legendary Mike Nichols gush.

In a talkback after Meyerowitz’s screening at the New York Film Festival last week, Baumbach recalled an interaction he had with Nichols upon their first meeting. Nichols had remarked of Squid, “It reminded me of why I got into movies to begin with, which was revenge.”

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Reader Question: Should Antagonists think they are the Protagonists of their own stories?

Hey, even Bad Guys have mothers!

Reader question from @farrtom via my recent #scriptchat appearance :

Should the antagonist think he’s the protagonist of his own story, or does that make him too relatable?

I provided a brief snippet of a response in the #scriptchat conversation, but there is an important point here worth delving into more thoroughly.

@farrtom: Yes, by all means, the Nemesis / Antagonist should think they are the Protagonist of their story. You know why? Because they are the Protagonist of their own story! Indeed, every character is their own Protagonist. They experience the story universe through their specific senses, their own perspective, and as a result develop their own world view.

So at the very least, you would be wise to spend time when developing your Nemesis character(s) to spend time with them seeing the story universe through their eyes. Sit with them. Talk with them. Experience how they relate to the other characters, what each represents to the Nemesis. The same questions you ask a Protagonist, e.g., What do you want, What do you need, What are you most afraid of, etc, ask of your Nemesis.

What is the value of these exercises? If you immerse yourself in the life of your Nemesis, you are much more likely to craft a multidimensional character, one a script reader may find compelling. And a more complex Nemesis who we can relate to and understand, even if we don’t sympathize with them, becomes a more interesting, engaging one, a more effective character in the context of the narrative, and an appealing figure for actors to want to play.

As to the second part of your question — does that make him too relatable — I suppose there is a risk a writer may so demystify a Nemesis, the character loses some of their power over our imagination. It’s one thing to be dealing with a mysterious Bad Guy/Gal, it’s another if the character has qualities which remind us of our pipsqueak brother. Then again, maybe not.

“I miss my wives.” — Immortan Joe, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

If your Bad Guy/Gal is worthy of being a Nemesis, they won’t be much like your pipsqueak brother at all. The more likely challenge in your work is to make the Nemesis more relatable. Why? Because when a script reader can find something within the Nemesis they can relate to, that shrinks the emotional and psychological distance between the reader and the Nemesis. That character is no longer an IT, rather they become a YOU.

I call this humanizing your Nemesis. It reminds me of that line from a writer I saw somewhere: “Even bad guys have mothers.”

So yes to doing character work with your Nemesis in which you look at the story universe through their eyes as a Protagonist.

And yes to digging into the Nemesis character’s inner life to find dynamics with which script readers and eventually moviegoers can relate.

That path will lead you beyond one-dimensional Bad Guys/Gals… into a world of complex, compelling Antagonist figures.

Comment Archive

[Originally published May 18, 2015]

For more of the Go Into The Story Reader Question series of posts, go here.

Reader Question: Should Antagonists think they are the Protagonists of their own stories? was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

Come To Raindance For… LGBT Stories

As a celebration of independent film, Raindance Film Festival aims to showcase the most groundbreaking and memorable stories out there. At our LGBT strand, we celebrate the work of filmmakers from around the world to examine the everyday life, complexity and diversity of the LGBT experience.

Here are four LGBT Stories to look out for at the 25th Raindance Film Festival.


The Misandrists

Directed by Bruce LaBruce

Somewhere in Ger(wo)many … Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse) operates a school for wayward girls as a front for a radical lesbian terrorist cell – The Female Liberation Army.  When a young man running from the police happens upon this feminist headquarters, one of the girls takes pity on him and hides him in the basement. His presence eventually disrupts the household, revealing a number of unexpected secrets.

Book your tickets for The Misandrists


Apricot Groves

Directed by Pouria Heidary Oureh

Aram, an Iranian Armenian youth who immigrated to the US in childhood, returns to Armenia for the first time to propose to an Armenian girlfriend he met and lived with in the US. Aram sees many cultural, religious, and national differences on the one day trip, but harder obstacles are ahead.

Book your tickets for Apricot Groves


Boys for Sale

Directed by Itako

In Tokyo’s Shinjuku district there are bars that specialize in “Urisen” – young guys who have sex with men. Featuring candid interviews and interspersed with animation detailing the awkward, sweet, and sometimes hilarious situations these sex workers experience, Boys for Sale boldly documents rare stories of life in the Tokyo underground.

Buy your tickets for Boys for Sale



Directed by Travis Mathews

Filmmaker Alex lives in a van. He sets up his camera in rural areas in the US, situated in no-man’s land near highways. During a visit to his former alcoholic mother, she shares with him a well-kept secret.

Buy your tickets for Discreet


The post Come To Raindance For… LGBT Stories appeared first on Raindance.


Lionsgate CEO: ‘More Stories to Be Told’ for Hunger Games, Twilight Franchises

Lionsgate CEO says there are 'more stories to be told' in the Hunger Games and Twilight universes

Lionsgate CEO says there are ‘more stories to be told’ in the Hunger Games and Twilight universes

Did the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises end too early for you? Well, it’s possible that you might be in luck. According to Variety, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer discussed the future of these franchises during a quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. “There are a lot more stories to be told, and we’re ready to tell them when our creators are ready to tell those stories,” he said during the call. Feltheimer reportedly implied that they would only continue with the consent of “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer and “Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins.

The Twilight film franchise is based on the four novel series by Meyer and consisted of five films: Twilight (2008), The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011) and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012). The series has grossed over $ 3.3 billion worldwide and starred Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. Meyer is currently executive producing the upcoming supernatural thriller The Rook at Starz, with Stephen Garrett serving as showrunning executive producer. The Twilight series told the love story of human Bella and vampire Edward, though there could be more about their continuing adventures together.

The Hunger Games film franchise is based on the trilogy of novels from Collins and consisted of four films: The Hunger Games (2012), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015). The films starred Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks. The series grossed over $ 2.9 billion worldwide. Though the franchise seemed to end the story of Katniss Everdeen, they could tell later tales about her life or prequels about any of the earlier Hunger Games mentioned in the books and films.

Would you guys be interested in seeing new stories set in either universe? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.

The post Lionsgate CEO: ‘More Stories to Be Told’ for Hunger Games, Twilight Franchises appeared first on

This Week In Trailers: Clash, Abortion: Stories Women Tell, Casting JonBenet, Maurizio Cattelan Be Right Back, Rupture

Green Band Trailer

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we talk about a little known topic called abortion, compare notes about what a totalitarian state looks like abroad while looking at ourselves, wonder aloud who did kill JonBenet Ramsey, revel in the playfulness of a seriously gifted artist and get more Stormare in my life.

Casting JonBenet Trailer


It’s not often when I’m unsettled by something as benign as a trailer but here we are. Director Kitty Green, who directed the fascinating Ukraine Is Not a Brothel documentary from 2013, moves from confronting one societal ill to showcasing another and that’s our collective fascination for high-profile, true crime stories. This is just a flat out well-made trailer that hits the right beats and lets things steep when necessary in order to punch up the drama. There is no doubt this is now on my must-see-TV list.

Abortion: Stories Women Tell Trailer

It’s tough.

There’s never going to be an end to this conversation and even though I’ve brought up director Tracy Droz Tragos’ documentary before, it looks like it’s going to make landfall on HBO in just a little bit. What I see in this story are the plights for many different women who are trying to make the best of their lives and having to do what is, and will be, the hardest decision they will have to make. No judgments, just listening.

Maurizio Cattelan Be Right Back Trailer

Yes, you’ve seen this before but this is a new trailer and it looks just as solid.

Taking another lap around This Looks Interesting street, this is my second installment to tell you about first time director Maura Axelrod’s ode to a guy who many should like if they find Banksy’s work whimsical and a good commentary on pop culture. This trailer takes a deeper look at the artist himself and by focusing so much time on Cattelan’s depiction of Pinocchio as a way into this guy’s process we get something truly meaty to chew on here.

Rupture Trailer

I don’t know how you go from directing a documentary about Diane Arbus a decade ago, not directing since then, and coming back with this but well-done.

Director Steven Shainberg certainly knows how to make something I wouldn’t mind putting on after a long night of drinking and eating pizza. I’m still not sure what in the world is happening here but it’s got Noomi Rapace and Peter Stormare so I’m all eyes and ears. Honestly, it gets so strange I’m almost giggling but it’s solidly engrossing to watch all the way through so I just had to include it this week to see if anyone else is intrigued by what they see on display here.

Clash Trailer

Tom Hanks gives a pull-quote.

One of the most fascinating things about director Mohamed Diab’s movie is just how relevant the premise is. To wit:

Set entirely in an 8m police truck, a number of detainees from different political and social backgrounds are brought together by their inevitable fate, during the turmoil that followed the ousting of former president Morsi from power

I love how cramped this is, I love how claustrophobic it makes me feel, but I’m intrigued about how much this feels like a play with how strong the performances are going to have to be. I’m not sure if Hanks’ comment is being generous but the editing on this is nothing short of intense. The music, the visuals, it’s an incredible ride until the very end. People from different perspectives and backgrounds being forced in a small iron cage under extreme duress? Let’s get it on.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

The post This Week In Trailers: Clash, Abortion: Stories Women Tell, Casting JonBenet, Maurizio Cattelan Be Right Back, Rupture appeared first on /Film.


Watch: How Producers Find Great Stories and Filmmakers to Bring Their Visions to the Screen

BAFTA’s Producing Roundtable reveals what makes producers successful and offers advice on how you can join their ranks.

Producers do many jobs, but ultimately they are responsible for bringing a film, television series, or other creative media projects to fruition. Producers find the stories, the filmmakers, and the financing, then shoulder the responsibility of making sure the project is completed to the best of everyone’s capabilities. Every project is unique, and in turn, every producer is singular in his or her approach to finding stories and creating content.

In this BAFTA Producing Roundtable video, the producers Lucan Toh (Under the Shadow), Lauren Beck (Manchester by the Sea), Pouya Shahbazian (American Honey), and Russ Krasnoff (Denial) share how they find a great story, how they find the right filmmakers for a project, and how you can set yourself up to become a great producer. If you don’t have time to watch the video, check out our takeaways below.

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Ben Affleck, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling all have hilariously awkward mum stories


You might think bringing a parent along to an awards ceremony would be something of a gamble, but it really isn’t.

As Ben Affleck, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and Sienna Miller prove in the video above, parents may occasionally be embarrassing companions — but their presence always makes for great chat show anecdotes.

It’s difficult to pick a favourite from the batch above, but if pressed we’d go for Ben Affleck’s camera-happy mother.

More about Uk, The Graham Norton Show, Graham Norton, Funny, and Moms

CS Video: Scary Stories with The Bye Bye Man Cast and Crew

CS sits down with the Bye Bye Man cast and crew.

CS sits down with The Bye Bye Man cast and crew for a look at the horror tale

Tomorrow, STX Entertainment is delivering to theaters a new tale of terror with director Stacy Title’s The Bye Bye Man. Earlier this week, we brought you an exclusive clip from the film and now, in the player below, you can check out our interviews with Title, producer Trevor Macy and stars Carrie-Anne Moss and Douglas Smith. They’re chatting about the origins of The Bye Bye Man and the steps that were taken to make sure that the stars were able to stay terrified on set.

RELATED: Exclusive Bye Bye Man Clip Featuring Leigh Whannell 

People commit unthinkable acts every day. Time and again, we grapple to understand what drives a person to do such terrible things. But what if all of the questions we’re asking are wrong? What if the source of all evil is not a matter of what… but who? In The Bye Bye Man, when three college friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the supernatural entity, they discover that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don’t think it, don’t say it. But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control. Is there a way to survive his possession?

RELATED: The Bye Bye Man Trailer and Poster: Say Goodbye to Your Nerves

The Bye Bye Man also stars Faye Dunaway, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount and Doug Jones. Jonathan Penner adapted the script from the short story “The Bridge to Body Island” by Robert Damon Schneck. Catch it in theaters this Friday, January 13.

Are you planning to check out The Bye Bye Man in theaters this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

The post CS Video: Scary Stories with The Bye Bye Man Cast and Crew appeared first on

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