Recently, while working on a horror short film, I came across some pacing and story telling issues. No matter how many times I read the draft I couldn’t figure out the problem but knew there was something missing. So, to fix it, I decided to revisit a horror movie or two to get an idea on the solution.
The Blair witch project became my obvious choice as my project had lot of common elements with it. I re-watched it, found a fix to my problem and got some new ideas. But along the way there was another interesting thought that germinated and made me very curious to explore.
I wondered, what would be a short film version of the Blair witch project.
With that thought, I re-edited the movie and made a short film version of it. I mean why not? Our attention span is being reduced to nothing by the day, might as well cut down the time of a standard movie to seconds 😂. The experiment though turned out to be quite interesting. (The link to that version is at the bottom)
At first I was afraid that the cut version might look fragmented, but it was a revelation that a story can still have it’s form intact even after some parts are completely erased . Though, it might be transformed into a new different story now (Like in my case). But the laws of storytelling do not change. Every story has a start, middle and an end. Every story has an inciting incident, tests and the resolution. And with these you can change and redesign the structure of stories into interesting forms.
The one big change that I made in the project to cut down time was to tell the story in a day and not days. The rest of it was just shifting and eliminating scenes to make it look complete. (And removing the epic, famous snot dripping monologue which broke my heart into a thousand little pieces.)
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT- (MY SIMPLE VERSION)-
START- Heather, Josh and Mike go to a forest to shoot a documentary on a witch.
MIDDLE-They lose their way along the way, lose their map and experience some horrifying events in the forest. They also lose Josh.
END- Heather and Mike go to an abandoned house to look for Josh. This is where they meet their doom. FIN.
It’s as simple as that. You can add complexity and sophistication to your projects once you have a clarity on it’s basic form. You can do this exercise too to sharpen your storytelling skills and let me know how it worked for you. While doing so remember the KISS rule- K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple stupid.
Below is the link to my version. Enjoy.
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