Tag Archives: Story

“Heart” – United Airlines Commercial by Jamie Caliri

This commercial, by director Jamie Caliri, won the Best Animated Television Commercial category at the 2009 Annie Awards.

I’m always impressed with the way commercials force us to tell stories in extremely short amounts of time. One has to establish the characters is just a few short seconds, show them struggle to be where they want to be and live life how they want to live it within another twenty seconds, show a solution and relate it to how their business can support the audience to do the same thing in just a few more seconds. It’s quite a task and when successfully done I find it very effective.

Jamie is closely associated with Duck Studios.
Related Post: United Dragon Commercial
A blog post on “Heart” by Dragon Stop-Motion Software.

Review: The Passion of Joan of Arc

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch The Passion of Joan of Arc.
(Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer;
Written by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Joseph Delteil)

I had often heard that the film is one of the most prodigious accomplishments in cinema of the twentieth century and I would agree; it’s a sublime experience. The film tells the story of the final few days of the historical figure, Joan of Arc–a teenage girl whose spirit enlivened France to win back her country from the invading English. She claimed to have had heavenly visitations from St. Michael and others in which they told her that she had a mission to restore King Charles VII to the throne. Upon accomplishing this, Joan was then captured by the English towards the end of the war. She was put on trial by the English clergy, was deemed a servant of the devil, and sentenced to death by burning at the stake.

Dreyer was initially given a script to follow for the plot and dialogue of the film, but he threw it away and decided instead to use the recorded dialogue from the actual trial.

The story and acting are amazing. From the moment Joan walks into the court room you already know that she is doomed, but you want to know how she will meet her fate. I quickly forgot where I was and stepped into the medieval world. Joan is played by Renée Jeanne Falconetti and her performance is widely regarded as one of the most perfect ever captured.

The film really speaks for itself, so I won’t expatiate anymore. You may see it for yourself on youtube in 8 pieces, the first of which is listed here:

Part 1 of 8.

The Passion of Joan of Arc on Wikipedia

Directory: The Story Paradigm – Prep and Landing

The following is a list of the blog entries which I created as a short description of the Story Paradigm. To learn more about the Story Paradigm you may read the books listed in the “Story” section of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.

Note: The Hulu link in the posts for Prep and Landing above has expired! Whoops. I hope you got to watch it before now. If not, you can sign up to be notified of when it becomes available for purchase here:

Prep and Landing on Amazon.com

Part I: Inciting Incident

Part II: Plot Point I

Part III: Act I

Part IV: Act II

Part V: Midpoint

Part VI: Plot Point II

Part VII: Act III

Part VIII: Climax

Part IX: Resolution and Fin

“Prep and Landing” Story Paradigm, Part IX and Fin: Resolution

Breaking down the Story Paradigm of Prep and Landing (written by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton).

Over the course of these few posts I am explaining in simple detail the Story Paradigm, and you can also learn more about the Story Paradigm by reading the books listed in the story column of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.

Note: The Hulu link above for Prep and Landing above has expired! Whoops. I hope you got to watch it before now. If not, you can sign up to be notified of when it becomes available for purchase here:

Prep and Landing on Amazon.com

Part IX: Resolution

Wow, we just watched an incredible climax and now we’re all gasping for air in our seats. Time to end the film. Continue reading

“Prep and Landing” Story Paradigm, Part VIII: Climax

Breaking down the Story Paradigm of Prep and Landing (written by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton).

Over the course of these few posts I am explaining in simple detail the Story Paradigm, and you can also learn more about the Story Paradigm by reading the books listed in the story column of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.

Part VIII: The Climax

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The audience is on the edge of its seats wondering how in the world the story will end, and as storytellers we’ve got a tremendous obligation to pay up!

When you ask someone to listen to a story–be it film, novel, graphic novel, or even just a single narrative painting–you make a contract with the viewer. You say, “I have something worth sharing with you, and if you give me some of your time, I will deliver.” The audience member says, “o.k. I’m going to trust you. Here I am.” As soon as they sit down to listen, they say to themselves, “prove it.” Continue reading

“Prep and Landing” Story Paradigm, Part VI: Plot Point II

Breaking down the Story Paradigm of Prep and Landing (written by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton).

Over the course of these few posts I am explaining in simple detail the Story Paradigm, and you can also learn more about the Story Paradigm by reading the books listed in the story column of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.

Part VI: Plot Point II

This is essentially similar to Plot Point I. The two basic Plot Points (I & II( are moments when the story is thrown in a new direction. Furthermore (as Syd Field states in his book, Screenplay) they are functions of the main character.

Examples of Plot Point II in other stories: Oliver is being forced to engage in criminal activities with the gang. Plot Point II happens when a man who is secretly Oliver’s half-brother realizes that, in involving itself with Oliver and his rich grandfather, has brought the unwanted attention of investigators. The gang, along with the man who is secretly Oliver’s half-brother, decides to ruin Oliver’s reputation in order to save themselves. Oliver must now protect himself and escape–Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens; Rick Blaine learns from his former lover that she still loves him, but that she is married to another man. Furthermore, she was married to him at the time when they formerly were lovers, but at the time she thought her husband was dead. Once Rick learns the truth behind the reasons why she left him, he is reconciled to her and plans to help her–Casablanca (multiple screenplay authors); Belle has left the Beast in order to save her father, who was being attacked by wolves in the forest. The Beast, becoming good-natured by Belle’s kindness, willing let her go, and he gave her a magic mirror so that she could look into it and see him. Now, having rescued her father, she and her father arrive back home, but Gaston–a jealous and controlling suitor–takes Belle’s father prisoner and refuses to release him unless Belle will marry him. Plot Point II happens when Belle, seeking to gain favor from the townsmen by proving her father is sane, shows the people the Beast in the mirror. This does not work out as she expected: the people become frightened and prepare to march on the Beast’s castle to slay him, thus the Plot Point drives the story into Act III–Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (screenplay by Linda Woolverton).

In our story example above, Prep and Landing, Plot Point II could be summarized thus: Wayne and his partner have put the child back in bed. However, the time Wayne has lost is too much to prepare in time for Santa’s arrival. Santa’s control-tower agent reroutes Santa to another house, meaning Timmy, the child, will not be visited by Santa. At Plot Point II, Wayne’s budding desire to do the right thing comes to full fruition. He forces a call through to Santa and entreats him to come back to Timmy’s house. Santa agrees, but now Wayne has to “Prep” Timmy’s house in a hurry for Santa’s arrival–thus Plot Point II has driven the story into Act III.


I’ve often found that results as to what moment in the film corresponds to what part of the paradigm can be subjective, so you’re welcome to share your own answers if you disagree and we’ll discuss.

“Prep and Landing” Story Paradigm, Part V: Midpoint

Breaking down the Story Paradigm of Prep and Landing (written by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton).

Over the course of these few posts I am explaining in simple detail the Story Paradigm, and you can also learn more about the Story Paradigm by reading the books listed in the story column of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.

Part V: Midpoint

Firstly, the midpoint is exactly what it sounds like: the midpoint.

More importantly, it’s the moment that the entire story weighs upon, like a hangar. It’s the part of the story where something happens involving the protagonist that forces him to make a choice as to whether or not he’s going to rise to the call of the heroes.

Will he forget himself and do what his moral conscience tells him is right? Or will he refuse his moral conscience and serve only himself. Once this choice has been made, it throws the second half of the story into motion (and thus, also, the second half of Act II).

Without the midpoint, the “character arc,” or the protagonist’s development of selflessness or selfishness, is extremely difficult to sense for the viewer.

(In purely plot driven films, the action is the most important part of the midoint–less the challenge to the heart of the character–but there still needs to be some type of development in the protagonist’s viewpoint for the story to be engaging).

Examples of Act II in other stories: Previously, a wealthy man has taken pity on Oliver and brought him into his home. In the midpoint, the wealthy man notices a resemblance between Oliver and his missing runaway daughter (the actual, late mother of Oliver). Just as he notices this, Oliver is re-kidnapped by the gang of recreants–Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens;

An example of a midpoint of a tragic protagonist, or one who chooses not to rise above his own selfishness, is found in The Natural (written by Roger Town and Phil Dusenberry). Roy Hobbs has been offered the chance to resurrect his long-lost dream of being a professional baseball pitcher. However, at the midpoint, he chooses instead to fool around with a beautiful femme fatale, and his loss of focus throws his resurrected career into a downward spiral.

In our story example above, Prep and Landing, the midpoint could be summarized thus: Wayne is being naughty–eating cookies, watching T.V., and ignoring his duties. While sitting in a comfy chair, his lack of vigilance turns against him when one of the children wakes up, sneaks up behind him, and takes a photo of him. Now that Wayne is discovered, he’s really has to ask himself if being naughty is how he wants to continue his service to Santa.


I’ve often found that results as to what moment in the film corresponds to what part of the paradigm can be subjective, so you’re welcome to share your own answers if you disagree and we’ll discuss.

“Prep and Landing” Story Paradigm, Part IV: Act II





Breaking down the Story Paradigm of Prep and Landing (written by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton).

Over the course of these few posts I am explaining in simple detail the Story Paradigm, and you can also learn more about the Story Paradigm by reading the books listed in the story column of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.



Part IV: Act II

Act II is all about conflict. We know what our protagonist wants, and now we want to see him try and get it. What’s more, each time he tries, new and more difficult obstacles–preferably in result of his own actions–keep appearing and making his goal further away.

Examples of Act II in other stories: Oliver Twist came to London looking for his fortune, perhaps one could say ‘to find happiness,’ but is inducted and entangled into a gang of petty thieves and cannot get away, despite his increasing efforts in Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens; Rick Blaine is conflicted because his desire to remain neutral in all political matters has been challenged by the appearance of his ex-lover, who is asking him to get involved with her current political affairs. Rick wants to remain neutral, but deep inside, he wants to renew his relationship in Casablanca (multiple screenplay authors); Belle is being held prisoner in a castle of a Beast. She had always been tired of her mundane life in the town and wanted something more, but when she was forced to exchange herself for her father, being held in the Beast’s dungeon, she got more than she could ask for. She battles her time trying to keep her promise to remain with the beast against her repulsion of his beastly behavior in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (screenplay by Linda Woolverton).

Act II usually takes about %50 of the story.

In our story example above, Prep and Landing, Act II could be summarized thus: Wayne, a member of an elite organization of elves called “Prep and Landing,” is tired of his responsibilities of preparing each house for Santa’s arrival. His wish to be promoted did not come true and now, though he wants to do anything else he still is obligated to be an active “Prep and Landing” participant. In order to do something else, he decides to hop onto the “Naughty” list this Christmas and do whatever he wants, including eating Santa’s cookies, watching TV, and overall not caring. His efforts to be naughty quickly get him in trouble when a child in the house wakes up and snaps a photo of Wayne. Now Wayne is in serious trouble as he has breached the Elf code of secrecy and he stands to lose quite a lot if he does not correct the situation.


I’ve often found that results as to what moment in the film corresponds to what part of the paradigm can be subjective, so you’re welcome to share your own answers if you disagree and we’ll discuss.

“Prep and Landing” Story Paradigm, Part II: Plot Point I





Breaking down the Story Paradigm of Prep and Landing (written by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton).

Over the course of these few posts I am explaining in simple detail the Story Paradigm, and you can also learn more about the Story Paradigm by reading the books listed in the story column of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.



Part II: Plot Point I

Plot Point I occurs near the end of Act I (remember, Act I is the part where we get all the information we need to know in order to follow the characters). At this point, we know what our protagonist wants and now, in order for the story to continue, we need to find out what specifically is going to stop him. For instance, when Oliver meets “The Artful Dodger” in Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens; when Rick’s ex-lover, Ilsa Lund, walks into his restaurant in Casablanca (multiple screenplay authors); when Belle agrees to give herself into the custody of the Beast in exchange for her father in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (screenplay by Linda Woolverton).

Plot Point I usually occurs around 25% of the way into the film. In many films, you can actually go to the exact spot of 25% on the time-tracker in your DVD player and you will find Plot Point I right there. Also, in screenwriting, you can often turn directly to page 30 and find Plot Point I there also.

In our story example above, Prep and Landing, Wayne has been expecting a big promotion for the first fourth of the film, but right at 4:30 into the film he finds out that…Nope!, his old partner got the promotion instead–AND Wayne also is getting a new, novice, and hyper-excited partner–that’s Plot Point I. We know that Wayne is tired of his job and wants something different, but now we know that getting a promotion is not in his deck of cards and, furthermore, that he’s expected to continue doing a great job because he has to train a newbie.


I’ve often found that results as to what moment in the film corresponds to what part of the paradigm can be subjective, so you’re welcome to share your own answers if you disagree and we’ll discuss.

“Prep and Landing” Story Paradigm, Part I: Inciting Incident





This new short by Disney is a good example of the “Story Paradigm.”

If you haven’t heard of the Story Paradigm, I will be explaining it in simple detail over the next few days, and you can also learn more by reading the books listed in the story column of my Truth and Storytelling List of Resources.



You’ll notice there’s a list of moments which I’ll cover: Act I; Inciting Incident; Plot Point I; Act II; Midpoint II; Plot Point II; Act III; Climax.

The inciting incident occurs near the beginning of Act I. I’ll explain Act I in Part 3, but for now you just need to know that it’s the part of the story where we find out everything we need to know in order to follow the characters’ journey.

The Inciting Incident is the story action that causes a change in the life of the protagonist. For instance, Oliver asking for more food in Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens; Ugarte arriving in Rick’s club with dangerous letters in Casablanca (multiple screenplay authors); or Belle’s father encountering the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (screenplay by Linda Woolverton).

In Prep and Landing, the story starts with Wayne, a member of an elite organization of elves that preps for Santa’s visit. Wayne has been doing this for 227 years, and…he decides that he’s tired of it and wants a promotion–that’s the inciting incident.


I’ve often found that results as to what moment in the film corresponds to what part of the paradigm can be subjective, so you’re welcome to share your own answers if you disagree and we’ll discuss.