Last week I wrote about the technical aspects of making films. While this is important, I believe it is even more important to have something interesting to say.
I started making films when I was in high school, but I stopped after I finished University. I didn’t make another film for another 15 years. Partly this was because I was busy with other things, but mostly because I felt I had nothing interesting to say. I only began to create films again when I felt I had something to say.
The film business is getting more competitive because digital technology has removed most of the barriers to entry. Just about anyone can make a film now, if they want to. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to give people something worthwhile. That is why I believe that having something to say is so important.
I find that ideas for stories often come while I am not thinking about films. As I contemplate the problems of the world and the challenges in my life, I begin to think about how I would explain my thoughts. This very often leads to a concept for a story.
In the last couple of years, I started to write articles and stories, and then post them on the internet. I was more interested in getting practice writing than making money. I have been doing many more articles than stories. I have found that articles are generally more successful than stories, so I started to write more articles.
More recently, I have started to rethink what I write. I only write articles about subjects where I think I have something worth saying. It may be better for me to take that message and use it as the basis for a story. Stories are a more subtle way to communicate.
One of the stories I am doing now, “Tom and His Incredible Traffic Model” came about when I decided to give up on an article I was writing on transportation planning. I worked for 30 years as a transportation planner and felt I had some valuable things to say. I decided it would be better to do that as a story rather than an article.
I just published a new story today. A Woman Alone in a Cruel World is a story that came to me while I was travelling through China last fall. It came from an event in Chinese history that I heard about. It is mostly about the emotions that people feel, rather than any specific message.