Storytelling school

Fantastic Fest Films: Stephen King, David Lynch and storytelling

Do you like stories? Do you like telling stories? If you answered yes to any of these questions, two movies that premiered at this year’s Fantastic Fest should be on your must-see list. They both provide joy for moviegoers and lessons for filmmakers.

Movies – King on screen and Lynch/Oz — explore the evolution, inspirations and techniques of two of the world’s most influential storytellers.

Fantastic Fest, the nation’s largest genre film festival, showcases horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action, and unusual films that don’t necessarily fit standard genres. The 2022 edition screened primarily at the iconic Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Austin – South Lamar. He also used online options and other sites to give fans more ways to watch.

King on screen

Ninety-five percent of King on screen consists of directors and writers talking about their interactions with Stephen King and his stories, intercut with clips from the films and King’s appearances. Don’t let the thought of all those talking heads scare you. I was not bored for a moment.

Frank Darabont with Stephen King and Tom Hanks on the set of “Green Mile”

All of King’s on-screen talk comes with a cute and spooky story that incorporates names, locations, and doctored scenes from movies based on King’s work. This bookend story begins with a lady driving to a town named Salem’s Lot and entering a store named Creepshow. At the end, she leaves the store and enters The Mist. The little sketch is funny and scary.

The film covers an incredible number of topics. How Stephen King gets his ideas and writes. Treats like the way he threw Carrie in the trash and his wife saved him. What it was like working with him as a filmmaker. Why his stories were so good and how they differed from what came before them.

I kept thinking, “Oh, Stephen King wrote that too!”

Franck Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption and creator of The Walking Dead, gets the most screen time. His insights into the process of storytelling and filmmaking will spark your creativity. He remarks, “Remember: you will be remembered for the kindness you show or the art you create, not for the amount you leave in your bank account.”

I believe I left this movie as an enhanced storyteller and you will too.

To find out when and where you can see the film, check out his Facebook page.

Lynch/Oz

This film, from director/screenwriter Alexandre O. Philippe, offers a completely different approach to exploring the work of a filmmaker. This approach also works, which in itself is a lesson. King on screen it’s 95% talking heads. Lynch/Oz does not present such a scene. Instead, the filmmakers have divided the film into six chapters, each narrated by a different filmmaker or critic talking about the work of David Lynch.

During the Q&A after the film, producer Kerry Deignan Roy explained how she started the production process by doing a series of interviews. Then they built the script around what the interviewees had shared about Lynch.

So what was on screen and from where The Wizard of Oz Come in?

Lynch, whose works include Mulholland Drive, blue velvetand twin peakswas strongly influenced by The Wizard of Oz. Lynch/Oz suggests it was one of his most enduring obsessions. He said it was one of the first films he remembers seeing in theaters as a child. (I have the same memory – thank you, Mom and Aunt Mary.) You’d think, “Yeah, a lot of people liked that movie. So?”

This is where what is shown on screen comes in. Both visually and in terms of story structure Lynch/Oz explain the influence of The Wizard of Oz on Lynch and other filmmakers. For most of the film, the screen is split, with The Wizard of Oz on one side and another film illustrating a point on the other. The very first sequence shows the Scarecrow falling while dancing on the left, and James Stewart of It’s a wonderful life fall to the right. The scenes are almost identical.

My first reaction was, “What a coincidence. In the end, the movie convinced me that was not the case.

This is the house

But beyond the visuals, the film examines structure, invoking The hero’s journey by Joseph Campbell. It’s a name you hear on your first day of film school and many more times until you graduate or run away to make a movie. The saying goes, “When you write your screenplay, follow the structure that Campbell explains.”

Fantastic party
“The Wizard of Oz” has influenced many films

But The Wizard of Oz does not follow this structure. Short explanation: The “hero’s journey” begins with a challenge to which the hero responds, decides to go fight, and then usually returns home victorious. Lynch/Oz shows that many of Lynch’s works and those of many other filmmakers do not follow this pattern. The Wizard of OzThe structure of takes the hero and throws him into a strange or upside-down world (yes, it was a stranger things reference), from where they must struggle to return home. If you find yourself in this situation, remember to always strap on those red shoes.

However, Lynch did not struggle to escape from The Wizard of Oz. In fact, the film lets us hear Lynch say, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about The Wizard of Oz.”

Lynch/Oz is currently screening at film festivals, more information can be found on the production company’s Facebook page.

For updates on future Fantastic Fest events and ways to watch its films, check out its website.