Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I'm On The Air!

Hey guys, I’ve been busy working on a book so it has been a while since I’ve posted. I promise that I will post something new soon. In the meantime you can listen to an interview I recently did for a radio show.


Quentin Lebegue said...

Ooooh, are you writing a new book on storytelling and writing ?

imyjimmy said...


I'm totally digging the songs you selected. I've always wondered what your playlist is like.

imyjimmy said...

Today is actually a pretty awesome day to learn about film, blog post or no. Here's Steven Spielberg at DGA 75th Anniversary

Ryan said...

Hey, this is Ryan from the Capstone. Great interview.

It was fun catching up with you last week. Here's a link to my short film:


Your book was a great help in making it.

Brian McD said...

Hey guys,

Thanks again for reading the blog. So Quentin, if you listen to the radio show your question was answered. I will write more about the new book on a future post. Glad that you are excited.

Jimmy, glad you liked the playlist.

Ryan, thanks for sharing your short. Nice, clear visual storytelling. And thanks for letting me know that my book helped.

Brian McD said...

Here is an old post I wrote about games and stories:

Brian McD said...

Hey Jonathan,

I appreciate the need that you have to know more – I have always been the same way.

Here’s the deal though, it is my job as a teacher to point you in the right direction – you have to discover things on your own. It is the only way it works.

But I will give you this tip. This is a very hard thing to do – assume that you are wrong. I have learned more things by assuming that I knew nothing. Or believing that my assumptions might be flawed.

Most people do the opposite – they assume they are right then they look for things to prove themselves correct. I have had many students over the years take something that I have said and twist it to mean what they would like it to mean.

And usually what they would like it to mean is the very thing that supports how they already think and feel about something. It is always the path of least resistant – the interpretation that challenges them the least.

The trick is to be able to look at the things you responded to with new eyes. I have had students, after a six-week class with me; look at my suggested film viewing list and tic off the films that they have already seen as if to say that they don’t need to see them again. But they are not the same person now as they were then. They have new information – new eyes.

I have gone back to watch films that I liked when I was younger only to find that some of the films are flawed. Most people do not want to part with a thing they loved so much. Their brain tells them it must be good because I like it. But you can still like a thing even if you later find out that it’s flawed. All it really means is that you have allowed yourself to grow. But this kind of growth is hard. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. Sometimes something has to die in order for you to grow.

So when you look at the things you like try to be honest with yourself about why. It may have nothing to do with the film. It might have to do with how much the main character reminds you of someone you know. Same thing if you react negatively – maybe there is a personal reason that has nothing to do with the craft itself.

Sometimes when I have discussions with folks about the great storytelling ability of illustrator Norman Rockwell their arguments almost never have anything to do with his craft and everything to do with his subject matter. They, because of their worldview, don’t believe what he paints. It’s too perfect. It is an unreal world. Too candy-apple-idyllic.

This world view has nothing to do with craft, but they will argue, these people, that Rockwell has no storytelling craft because they don’t like what he chose to paint.

I am not saying that they have no right to their worldview or even that I don’t share some of those concerns about subject matter, but these issues have nothing to do with craftsmanship.

So, the deal is that you must look for yourself and see what you see. Try to be objective and don’t make excuses for poor craft because you want to keep thinking the way you have always thought. Things you liked before may not work as well as you first thought and vise versa.

Sorry that I can’t talk to you personally, but I think if you challenge yourself to observe honestly you will be able to answer whatever questions you might have. But the answer will be your own, not mine. You have to be brave enough to see the flaws to the things you love – if you can do that you see clearly.

I hope this helps.

Good luck,

-- Brian