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Monday, February 28, 2011

David Freeman discusses Emotioneering

Sometimes it is good to look outside of your own industry to see how they are creating emotion with the way that they film/direct and then take that and tailor it for what you do. You never know you might just stumble on something that has never been done in the Outdoor Industry and that might make you successful.

David heads The Freeman Group, the most active game writing/design consultancy in the business. All the members of The Freeman Group are WGA members (Writers Guild of America), and all have sold scripts to studios or TV series. The Freeman Group specializes in making games more emotionally immersive, which means not just executing great stories, characters and writing, but also building emotion right into the gameplay. David also teaches "Beyond Structure," L.A.'s most popular screenwriting workshop. "Beyond Structure" has been taken by many prominent game executives and designers, as well as scores of noted film and television writers, directors, producers, and executives. In this radio program, David describes "Emotioneering", David's techniques for emotionally immersing the viewer. With a combination of entertainment and art, the audience must be offered a meaningful and emotionally rich experience. Also, we discuss symbolism in movies, focusing on the emotional effects. He says emotion is the reason people go to films, watch TV, and listen to music.(from RIR

David Freeman is one of the teachers at the 2011 Campbell Cameras Outdoor Videography School.. learn more about him and the school HERE

Here is Part 1 of what David Freeman calls "Emotioneering"

Clip 1: WALL-E

Test Clip 2
Uploaded by rediceradio. - Independent web videos.

Deconstruction (from David Freeman)

I find it helpful, when speaking about film and television scripts, to divide them into five elements:
  1. Characters
  2. Relationships
  3. Dialogue
  4. Scenes and
  5. Plots
There are techniques to make each of these five elements unique and interesting ("Interesting Techniques"), and techniques to make each of these five elements have emotional depth ("Deepening Techniques").
By "depth," I mean what others mean when they use phrases like:
  • Emotionally complex
  • Psychologically complex
  • Layered
  • Rich
  • etc.
Not all techniques in creating stories and scripts fall into these categories of "Interesting" and "Deep," but the vast majority do.
This scene from "Return of the King" uses quite a few such techniques. Here are some of the techniques used in these pair of linked scenes:

Empathy Techniques

(Techniques to cause an audience to like or identify with a character)
For both Frodo and Sam:
  1. They are heroic.
  2. They have performed self-sacrifice for the greater good.
  3. They are in danger.
  4. They are loyal to each other.
  5. They experience pain and sorrow--for what they've gone through, and for their impending deaths.

Character Deepening Techniques

1. Sam has an unfulfilled dream--of marring Rosie.
2. They both have pain and sorrow. (This causes not just empathy but depth as well.)
3. Frodo and Sam simultaneously feel different things about different subjects: they're glad they conquered Sauron; they're sad they're going to die.
4. At the end, in Minas Tirith, they're "alone in a crowd"--despite the joy around them, their history of struggle and torment sets them apart from others in the room.

Scene Deepening Techniques

1. There is a contrast between the stillness on the rock and the violence of the lava below.
2. (At the end): "One Scene, Two Universes": Frodo and Sam are (figuratively) in one universe, and all their joyful companions are in another.

Plot Deepening Techniques

1. "Desolation Row": The characters face the very worst possible situation. In this case, it's their impending deaths.
2. Symbol of a Concept: Fire. There are four ways to use symbols in scripts. "Symbol of a concept" is one of them. Throughout the film, fire is a symbol of Sauron. Other symbols of Sauron are machinery and darkness. "Symbol of a Concept" is a type of symbol that runs through an entire plot. It gives emotional depth to the plot –– and thus is a Plot Deepening Technique.
3.The end of the fire plotline. Evil has been destroyed, so the mountain (the world) empties itself of the last signs of evil (fire)
4. Symbol of a Concept: White. In the "Lord of the Rings" films, white, trees, and water are symbols of good.


This article went over 15 different Emotioneering techniques, used in 5 ½ minutes of "Return of the King."
From this we can see that what makes a scene unforgettable and emotionally powerful isn't the use of a technique, but rather many techniques used either simultaneously or in rapid succession.
Such techniques are valuable not just in deconstructing scenes, but also in creating them. They are extremely powerful and effective tools for elevating your artistry –– and with it, your chances of commercial success.

Rewriting Tools

You wouldn't try to use all these techniques as you write –– if you did, your head would explode. No one can keep them all in mind as they create.
There are some techniques that you do use as you write your first draft. However, most of those described in this article are more effectively used when you rewrite. They take a lot of thought to apply artfully, and you need to make aesthetic choices in order to use them in combination to create the complex emotions you intend to evoke.
The techniques provide craft. They turn into art when you add the
"X-Factor." What's the X-Factor? The X-Factor is you –– you, with all your experience, your insights, and your own aesthetic vision.
However, before you can apply the techniques, first you need to know the techniques!
As mentioned at the start of this article, they're very hard to distill, both because they're directed at our subconscious (so it's hard to be conscious of them) and because they suck us in (so it's hard to notice them objectively).
You'll learn hundreds of techniques in "Beyond Structure" –– techniques for creating unique and rich characters, dialogue, plots and scenes.
It took me a decade to distill or create them, codify them, and figure out how to teach them.
Though it took me ten years, you can learn them in just two days.
Your writing will advance so fast that you will astound yourself and all who read your scripts.
I hope to see there.
- David Freeman
David Freeman discusses Emotioneering
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