My move of jobs from Melbourne to Brisbane saw a move in industries from sport to film & television. In my new workplace I am extremely lucky to have daily conversations with some amazingly creative and wise minds and a discussion I had yesterday really resonated with me. A comment was made about the many synopses that land on desks that sound exactly like the plot outlines of movies already made.
As an example, you may be familiar with the Fern Gully / Pocahontas / Avatar Internet theory?
I was only 11 at the time, but I recall the amazement at the surprise ending of The Sixth Sense when it came out in 1999. While I believe the storylines of Fern Gully & Co. could be re-written a hundred times and still captivate audiences with their message and beauty, it seems there have been films since The Sixth Sense using a similar twist that simply didn’t have as big of an impact because we’ve all seen it before.
As someone who wants to write a book… and hopefully a good one… I started to question my own ideas. Are they original or am I an accidental copycat? Even more time to mull over this musing then caused me to wonder if any of us are original anymore?
Maybe storytelling is all about who tells the story best and how they tell it, not who thought of the idea first. Popular opinion is that Avatar revolutionised 3D cinema, which is where its originality came from. Shakespeare, in my own opinion, is the best storyteller the world has ever known, but if he told his stories in his language and style in the 21st century he probably wouldn’t get very far. Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 reinvigoration of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet was a re-telling that earned Luhrmann critical acclaim and proved that originality was not in the story but in how it was presented.
Some of the best storytellers in the world do not make a living from it. They are our parents. The mummys and daddys that read “just one more chapter” when it’s way past bedtime and “do the voices” of all the characters, engaging the incredible imaginations of their tiny audiences.
The stories yet to be told are the ones we are living, so I think I will start there. Besides, if they turn out to be rubbish in the end, I might have a child of my own one day and then at least someone will find me entertaining.