Story first. Period. No exceptions.
If there's one sin that genre films and TV shows seem to commit daily, it's that they don't pay homage to story. Ridiculous right? Sounds simple doesn't it?
It's like step one, page one, chapter one, paragraph one of the storyteller's handbook -- "If you're gong to tell a story... Tell a fucking STORY." But somewhere along the way, the weaker storytellers always fall prey to spectacle, exposition and visual acrobatics, completely forgetting things like character, story and plot.
I'm incredibly happy to announce that I'm about to go direct a film with a very cool group of producers, writers and creative executives who know better, and are taking the time to help me craft a solid story with a rich mythology, as well as a creature that intrigues as well as frightens. But that's a rare thing, to have such a good support system.
I'm so incredibly grateful not to be dealing with turds who shoot budgets instead of films, people who look at profits over characters, people who desperately shrug over their own films and say, "Well, it is what it is." Shame on those filmmakers who do say that, by the way. The universe has blessed you with MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to tell a story and you have the nerve to say, "Meh... it is what it is,"? Do those ass apes have any idea how many talented artists would give a limb for that chance?
Shame on the filmmaking teams who squander a chance to tell a solid story with that much money behind them and that much exposure to the masses.
But it's like some filmmakers can't see past the trailer or the poster or their own ADD - or god forbid, that secret nagging fear they carry on their shoulders like a bag of rocks, that we'll discover that they don't know what a good story even is, and wouldn't know a good script if it bit them in the ass.
They get caught up in their own web of bells and whistles to the point where the din of their dumb ass noisemakers drowns out the desperate cry of undeveloped characters and mishapen storylines, all screaming to be heard... It also drowns out the cries of the intelligent audience member (there are more of us than you think there are, by the way)... who are starving for a chance to give a damn about the characters and root for them to get through the storylines they've been given.
A funny thing that I like to do with these filmmakers is ask them their favorite films. Nine times out of ten they spout of a list that matches the appropriate AFI top 100, and rightfully so. But then ask them what film they want to make and they start making sound effects of lasers pew pewing, robots changing into trucks and whooshing jet sounds. Nice. Back to the playground, monkey.
I understand that it's "Showbusiness" and that it's a business. But you know what? I'm the SHOW part of that. And Show comes first... even in the word. So it's my job to make the show work. And no amount of spectacle will ever replace a good story.
And speaking of show "business"... People don't show up at the theater and plop down $30 to see your fucking budget spreadsheets. They don't care that you had 580 visual effects or 19 car chases or an exploding pyramid full of pirates who came flying out on sharks while wielding baby dinosaurs as weapons. (okay maybe we would, but not for the reasons you think). My point is, think of your favorite film...
...I guarantee you just thought of something with a decent storyline.
And as filmmakers, we are privledged to be playing with very expensive toys, but with those toys comes the responsibility to at LEAST not waste the audience's time or insult their intelligence. To at least give them something to care about for 90 plus minutes.
And for my money, and the money of the amazing and generous team behind me, we will succeed or fail on story, because it's story first. Period. No exceptions.
Gaudium per atrox.