The Process

My work goes towards taking logic out of the storytelling process, and thus immersing and expanding. I want to challenge the way we think and feel.

And I am not talking about the kind of immersion that is manipulated and manipulative, that goes towards identifying and judging the other (the characters are “the other”) and which has nothing to do with emotion. That is connected with the thinking process and leads to separation (from “the other”). In my process I am eliminating thought as much as possible – we leave it outside the door and pick it up on our way out.

“Thought is the one thing we use to solve our problems, that’s part of our tradition. The general tacit assumption in thought is that it’s just telling you the way things are and that it’s not doing anything – that ‘you’ are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don’t decide what to do with the info. THOUGHT RUNS YOU.” (Krishnamurti/Bohm, The Ending of Time)

What I am talking about, and what we normally experience in a Writers Improv Studio workshop due to the process we apply here, is perhaps similar to what one experiences in a very strong nonlinear movie –  which for reasons you cannot name or point your finger at, makes you suddenly cry or feel happy, and you can actually feel it in your body (everyone has had such experiences with music or art, where logic is required less in perception).

When in that place, we experience something which feels like the energetic field which connects us all and  where vibrations are the highest: the unified field. That is what, in storytelling, I call emotional structure, and what I am working on. And that is how I perceive immersion. (My feeling is that it has to do with elimination of separation, loss of self, being in the moment – and that there are different ways to get there, this being just one of them, which is directly connected with storytelling.)

The aim is to establish the connection to others, as though to say, no matter how great your sorrow, I shall not let you fall out of the world. The hope is to introduce order into disorderly souls. The vision is not for the pitier being separate from another’s agony, but that we as an audience (and as writers) respond to it in the depths of our being, “as a harp string responds by sympathetic resonance to a note from another source.” (Kallas, Creative Screenwriting. Understanding Emotional Structure)

When we started out on the experiment you will be following with this project, the main question was: Can we reach that when we work on a story in a group? The particular story comes from my personal imagination, which is informed from my experiences, from my reality. Is there a deeper level which makes this more than my own personal story, which goes into collaborative emotional truth? That is the question.

In order to be able to answer this, I worked on converging, integrating emotions, which makes this personal to each one of the people in the group, developing at the same time a five steps prototype of emotional immersion to achieve that in the least manipulative way possible.

Using the overarching narrative of my screenplay “42 seconds of happiness” (which noone in the group has read or will read till the very end of the process) we started expanding into multiple perspectives and moments from and around that tale. I went against the linear, against cause and effect and immersed into the different layers of a story or a character, ignoring or challenging what was in my script.

The process calls for exploration – emotional and existential exploration. With the screenplay for a two hours film you can only explore a part of a world. Here, we went deep but also wide.

“Theoretically, you can get a very deep story and you can go so deep and open the world so beautifully, but it takes time to do that.” (David Lynch)

We are taking time – time to tell the whole story, not just story simplex as we are used to. The combination of web series and movie (one flows into the other storywise) is a commitment to deep story. It is also a story about the mechanism of storytelling and how it creates our lives. It has a true and raw and emotional quality to it. But where does it lead us to?

We are still in the process, which surprises us continuously in a most gratifying way. The results are unknown and will be discussed (hopefully also with our interested in the process audience) while we walk the way through production. One thing I can already disclose: What is emerging from the process we are following here is extremely close, at times identical in tone and content, to the parts of my screenplay which have successfully captured the emotional truth of the story (and may I repeat that noone in the group has read the said screenplay,) while – hold your breath – where I have changed the story and characters for dramaturgical reasons, the process leads us back to what really happened, enriching it with more perspectives and points of view. There is no right or wrong, not in emotional truth. If that is not mind blowing, I don’t know what is. To be continued…

Christina Kallas, July 2012


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