Deconstructing the Stories that Really Matter

01.11.2022

Tim Whitney 

All right. We're here for the heroes in whiskey podcast. This is season one, episode two. And I love that line about the great stories from two towers. I will watch the entire movie two towers just to get to that point where Sam talks about that. So I don't think it's actually in the books, but I totally makes a movie for me. So we are here at the basement bards Tim and Jack, the drink on the bar today is actually a drink that I just made up. And it's called the bloody Kraken. Culatta. Yes. And so it's a base of Kraken. Spice Rum, a little bit of Malibu, and then a buy. Antioxidant cocoa fusion, pineapple cocoa. In the bloody part, we got to you got to add it to last minute. It's yet pouring a little bit of the Brasilia Blueberry by for here. A little little drizzle on top to get the bloody part. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. There's Oh, yeah, this is totally like college. Let's make a crazy drink from all these other things. Okay, perfect. All right. So one thing before I forget, and this is for Jack, or anybody else who's listening now or ever. If you have not had a chance, I would highly recommend checking out the the Harry Potter reunion special that's on HBO, Max. Like, I could take or leave many of the Harry Potter movies. I think some of them are really good. I think some of them are just okay. But it's one of those things that you watch. And every person would love to be a part of a family like that. I mean, I think they're, they're really honest about the toll it takes on their lives. But just to see how everybody rallied around each other and kind of achieved this grand vision. And, you know, we talked about this last time how I think Harry Potter is the Star Wars for this generation. And one thing that they did that Star Wars certainly hasn't done is they filmed for 10 years straight. And his three kids and practically most of the whole cast honestly was involved for 10 years. And so that's a pretty big, pretty big commitment and some pretty impressive piece of work. And honestly, I think the last few of those movies are quite good. So So anyways, it's I would definitely recommend checking that out whether you like Harry Potter or not, it's a good exploration of what it means to be part of creative family. So alright, so today's topic is the first of two episodes on how to deconstruct a story. So this is a little bit of storytelling, one, one on one. But we're gonna come back to this in future episodes. And, honestly, if you create any kind of media that people consume, whether it's like written stories, or marketing, or narrative videos, or podcast, or songs, or even if you're like making presentations at work, it's really useful to understand how people's brains are wired up to respond to stories. And so we're going to talk about two ideas today, one of which is the hero's journey, which you may have heard of, and it's kind of the predominant social and cultural narrative in the Western world, and especially here in America. And then we're going to talk about something called a story clock, which is about how stories roll out over time. And these are just two ways among dozens for constructing and deconstructing stories, and they're by no means the only way to do it. But since they're fairly common, and fantasy and adventure stories, that's what we are going to use. So the first thing that we wanted to do is actually talk quickly back and forth about what our top five movies are. And Jack only has four. And when I gave him this assignment, he said something that was very interesting to me, which is I don't really watch a whole lot of movies. And get me thinking we talked about this a little bit last time. It's not just like how we consume movies, that's different. It's like the types of media that we consume at all like when I was growing up, going to a movie like that was the pinnacle of entertainment and it's just not that anymore. And it's yeah, it's also your the list that you picked is also interesting for me to me for some other reasons. So anyways, I will let Jack go first and Talk about, well, yeah, why don't we go back and forth you say one yours and kind of say why you like it, what it is that you like about it. And we'll go from there.

 

Jack Whitney 

So, like, before I jump into it, I think one of the things that like, the reason I think maybe I don't watch a ton of movies or something like that, it's because that's like, kind of my full time job is like, creating content and videos and taking photos and stuff like that. And so like, I think you're like, I'm so plugged into that space. Yeah. It's like a movie for me, isn't it? Like, I'm watching a movie? And I'm like, Oh, that's a cool shot, or technical theater. Oh, that's great storytelling, whatever, blah, blah, blah. A lot of people will consume movies in a different way than I consume movies. Yeah. So it's kind of like if you make like, I know a lot of people from college who would make specific types of music, but they don't listen to that type of music, right? They just make that type of music. And so anyways, that's just a little side note, but my first movie is baby driver. And I love everything about this movie, like it is, it's simple enough where anybody can watch it and understand it. It incorporates a lot of Edgar Wright's techniques that are pretty incredible, that are very, like very obvious, but also subtle, little storytelling moments. Yeah. And that's part of the reason I've watched the movie 1015 times is because there's so many little things that you can catch on every single time you watch it. And I really, really enjoy that. Um, and yeah, I think the plot is just, it's just fun. It's fun, and it's simple. But there's a lot of depth if you want to go into it. And so I think I really liked that.

 

Tim Whitney 

Nice. Nice, nice. Well, mine, not surprisingly, and these are not in necessarily in order. But definitely near the top of my list is Star Wars, A New Hope. And I was on top of my list before it was actually called New Hope. Back in the 1970s. It is far from a perfect movie, but like I can't deny the nostalgic effect and just the impact on probably a good decade of my life. And even now, you know, we we still enjoy the Star Wars movies. And so it was kind of the, the first in a long string of experiences and play time and things like that. And so

 

Jack Whitney 

So my second one is Lord of the Rings, two towers. And I bounced back and forth between which one I liked more, because I love all those movies, but I think two towers just has it's kind of similar to your new hope, where I kind of just like it because a little bit of the nostalgia and that's the one that I watched them with, with my friends. But to I think it I mean, just like the quote, like from the beginning, like, the heroes are like losing, and they're separated. Yeah. And so it's, it's like, it's kind of the same thing I like about infinity war now, which is like the hero's loose. Like, it's not just like the, you know, you get your antagonists and you're introduced to them, and then everybody has a happy day at the end. It's like, not like, let's take this farther. And there's a whole other movie after that, and I think it sets up the last movie really well. That's why I like it so much.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah, when there's a good future episode planned, where we talk about how afraid Hollywood is to take risks, like, you know, things actually being dangerous to characters and things like that. Alright, so second on my list is I love both Alien and Aliens. And so this is kind of a combo. I mean, aliens to me. Not only is it just like a fantastic fun movie, like you said about baby driver. It was probably the best movie going experience I ever had. I meant to be in a theater full of people. Nobody had ever seen anything like that. People are cheering people are screaming. And it was just, it was just awesome. And then I mean, it's another one of those movies where I could probably quote half of it just from memory. So yeah, that's number two on my list.

 

Jack Whitney 

So the next one on my list is Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. And honestly, I love all the Mission Impossible movies. And there's no real specific reason why I just love them like spy movies like heist. And that's why I love baby driver too, because it's like a heist movie. Yeah. But like, yes, five movies, heist movies. I just love that genre of like, a bunch of action but then like some puzzle solving, and then like, every character has tension with every character because nobody knows who everybody So I just love that no matter how simple it is, and I wouldn't by any means say that Mission Impossible was some masterpiece or saying master class or by any means, like, the greatest character development of all time. I think I just love that genre of film. And that to me, I've as another movie, I've watched like, 10 times. Yeah, because I just, it's just, it's fun. And I love it. And I love that genre. And it's so Ghost Protocol, I think is the newest. The oldest one in the new series of Mission Impossible, like after three. So Right. Yeah. So yeah.

 

Tim Whitney 

And when I saw it on this list, I was like, which Mission Impossible. And even when you like, you pull up the pull up like the poster, the movie art. It's like, okay, I knew Tom Cruise was and I knew that all of these other guys were. Yeah. What am I going to start watching is like, oh, yeah, it's this one. Yeah, got it. Got it. Um, so third on my list is Braveheart. Braveheart is it is almost a perfect movie. To me, just in terms of the acting in the storytelling, like how it feels at every moment is just really good. It's really well written. I come later to understand that it bears no resemblance to what actually happens in history. Yeah. But that actually doesn't really make a difference. Yeah, I mean, there's only a couple of story points where I was like, I wish they hadn't done it this way. But otherwise, I just, it's, again, to me, it's like an almost perfect film presentation.

 

Jack Whitney 

Yeah, I also love Braveheart. It's great. Um, my last one is dark night. And I think that movie to me, all these movies are movies. I've watched like, 10 times. Yeah, that movie to me is kind of like, this feels like a perfect movie. Like there's definitely definitely has its flaws, whatever. And it's a superhero movie, which is nowadays kind of a, to some degree a delight, a diluted, like sub genre. But when it first came out, and when I first watched it, it was I was like, this is incredible. I mean, all the cinematography, like I thought it was a masterclass in, in putting a story together that like, not only is cool to watch, but like, examines like different characters deeper. And it like when I was in high school when I was in, like studying films in high school. Yeah, I would study like Alfred Hitchcock, and you know, all those great people who pioneered Yeah, different techniques or different storytelling things, whatever. And I would sit back in the back of the class be like, Why are we not watching? Christopher Nolan? Yeah, dark, right. Because that was like, my favorite. And my buddy felt the same about Interstellar. That was like my favorite. Like, why would not examining the choices they make and stuff that they do? And I mean, everything from Yeah, the cinematography in that movie to Heath Ledger is acting. Yeah. To the score in that movie is absolutely incredible. Yeah. Which that I mean, that could be its whole own series of episodes. But yeah, I think everything about that movie is great. Along with all the other things on my list. I just really like there are technical movie there movies that are technically and storytelling wise, better than all these movies. I just love. Yeah, so

 

Tim Whitney 

yeah, yeah. Well, and now on to La two things first is like, like, I think you're totally right. I mean, I have a couple of Christopher Nolan movies on my list. You've got one in your list. Edgar Wright is another one. I mean, these are, these are people who have directors who have you know, they've been given the creative license to do whatever they want, and they're just really good at it. And I definitely think worth studying. But like Dark Knight, like that's the point where everybody was like, Yeah, let's make everything darker and more sinister like even Batman Begins and is a little more gritty, but Dark Knight was like, Yeah, let's take this to the edge. And so like you think of all the things that came after that, like all of the Batman video games like all of the Arkham Asylum I'm they all kind of have that same feel to them. Even the new Justice League movies like it's all like yeah, let's get gritty. And let's get dark and it's all because of Heath Ledger and his Joker. So yeah, it's a good one. I have now just like a big bucket, a bunch of movies that could easily be number five I on my list, I would watch any of these movies. Anytime. That includes Last of the Mohicans, V for Vendetta, Inception interstellar children of man. It's actually it's funny, like, for a while I didn't think I would have any more favorite movies and then V for Vendetta came along. It's like, oh my gosh, I think this is one of my favorite movies and same thing with inception and Interstellar. They're like, like movies you can watch like you said about baby driver. Like you watch them once. Okay, that was pretty good. But then you watch them again and you start to really appreciate like, how, how, how much of a craft it is to make a good? Yeah.

 

Jack Whitney 

And I think that's why like, I don't know, cuz all these movies on my list, like there are other incredible movies and quotable movies and stuff like that, that aren't on this list. I know. But these are all movies that I have watched, like, 10 times. And there's a reason I keep I like my so much I keep watching them. And so yeah, I think even I mean, put everything else aside, like, you don't really know what you like until you've either seen it or, like, they experienced it over and over and over again. And you realize how much you love it. Yeah. And so it's the same way with like, buy albums or something like that, like some movies just stand the test of time, but in other movies, and I think like Star Wars and Braveheart. Like those are all movies that just yeah, he's they're always going to be greats. Yeah, no matter what else comes out.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. Well, and like Interstellar, the first time I watched it, like, ah, that's okay. But then it kind of stuck with me. And I think I've watched it every year since I first watched it. So one thing that I noticed about your list, which I thought was interesting is that three of the four on your list are actually movies like from smack dab in the middle of a series. Yeah. And that's going to make the next part of the podcast kind of challenge.

 

Jack Whitney 

Well, I know that I knew that when I put them in. Yeah,

 

Tim Whitney 

well, and it but it's interesting, though, that you would you would pick ones where like, the characters were established, you kind of knew what their motivations were. And it's all about like the doing, whatever the thing is, I'm a Dark Knight is a little bit different. But yeah, I just thought that was interesting that you'd picked a couple that that were from the middle of series, but I

 

Jack Whitney 

think that's my favorite part of the story, though. Like not to go off topic too much. But that's like, like, typically, and we'll get into a little bit of this, like, you know, one on one kind of storytelling story structure basics, but I mean, at the beginning of your story. Yeah. And I love series. Yeah, I love like, just the way that you talked about last episode where he talked about, you saw Star Wars, and then you developed the world in your own head. Yeah, that's like, it's the same thing I love when it's like, you see a first movie, you develop it, or you seen us TV episode, you develop it. And then next episode, you're wanting more like you want more when a piece of media can make you want more. That's awesome. Yeah. So I think that's why I like, though, is like middle chunks of movies. So yes, because it's like one you can, like the beginnings of movies. While they get the beginnings and ends of series, while it can be unique, are always going to be the beginnings and the ends. And in today's culture, you're always going to know if they're the beginnings in that it's probably because it's three movies, or six movies or something like that, you know? And so it's like, okay, cool, where's the store gonna go next. That's awesome. But you know, the beginnings, the beginning, and you're going to get a section where some characters are going to be established, you know, the end is the end. Because they have to wrap it up, or they leave a cliffhanger for the next one. And that doesn't that doesn't devalue any of the things that those movies bring. But like, so I haven't seen the new Spider Man yet. But I love the new Spider Man movies. Yeah. And like, like, the second one same with like, Amazing Spider Man two, like the second movie far from home. And Amazing Spider Man two like, develops the people you already know. And you get to see like, you don't really have expectations. Because you know, it's the middle of the series. Yeah. So it's like two towers. Who knows what's going to happen, but it's crazy. So still happening in two towers are like dark night. It's like, that's the best movie in my opinion, that whole series, but who knows what's gonna happen to Batman or Joker or anything like that? So it's like, it's cool. I love like the second one, or the third one in like a series. Yeah, like out of three or four, something like that. Just because you the the expectation is different than for the beginning of the end. Yeah.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. Well, I think that's one of the reasons that maybe Marvel is so successful because, you know, except for like endgame Infinity War, like all of those movies, all those hero specific movies are middle movies, you know, they just happen sometime in the middle. And so I get, you may know whether the person lives or dies, but you don't know anything else that's going to happen. And so in a way, it's almost like it's all character development. Yeah. So yeah, so I agree. Alright, so we are going to talk about story and story structure. And again, this is really for this is for anybody who in any way, like tries to convey meaning to people, whether you're doing, you know, you're a dungeon master coming up with a campaign, or you're making videos, whether they're narrative videos, or like commercial videos, or whether you're writing or doing anything like that. These same principles apply. So there's two things that we're going to talk about kind of two key structural considerations. One is, are the actual like story beats, like what needs to happen to be a good story. And then the second thing is how that story unfolds over time, and you're given medium because, you know, not, we're not all going to be making to our movies, you know. And so you got to think about how these things play out, given what your, your medium is. And what happens is, you start to see these predictable patterns. And they've been predictable for a long time. So they're now kind of ingrained in our cultural subconscious. And so it's useful to us as creators, because now we're all wired with this implicit understanding of what makes a good story or not. And conversely, like what bores us to death, and, and what doesn't.

 

Jack Whitney 

I love that. Like, I love that. I love it. Because people now and directors and producers and creators now can play off of that. Oh, yeah. Because over time, like the past 30 years, people's preconceived notions of what a story is, or what a film is, or what happens in the movie. Like, people come up with that, because they have seen movie after movie after movie after movie. That's a new medium in the grand scheme, like history. And so it's like, it's cool, because now I think what makes movies even better is when people can play off of that. Yeah. And kind of give you the unexpected. Yeah, exactly. Or understand that the whole audience already has a preconceived notion what's going to happen? We're going to give him some totally different and I love it. Yeah.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah, no, I totally agree. Alright, so the first thing I want to talk about is the hero's journey. So this may be something you've heard about. Oh, so just just so you all know, Jack, actually, he went to school for some of this stuff. And so I'm curious what he learned. Um, so the hero's journey is an idea that was first articulated by a guy named Joseph Campbell, who was he was a comparative mythologist and an author back in the late 60s, early 70s. And so his, his work influenced, definitely George Lucas when he was writing Star Wars. And so he wasn't the one who like came up with this idea. He was just the first one to, to talk about it. And he did it through a comparison of different mythologies across different structures. And so you see variations of this throughout mythology through through different cultures throughout history. And so that kind of simplified version of the hero's journey goes something like this there is a, a person of common means who we all relate to as the audience member, that person gets called to higher mission, they set off on an adventure, they're not really sure if they have what it takes to be successful. They're able to rally some friends and allies and protectors and guides. So then they embark on a series of increasingly challenging sub adventures that help them grow. And then they succeed in accomplishing a great task that proves that they do in fact, have what it takes. And so they're often elevated to higher levels of understanding or society as a result. So some, you know, really obvious examples from modern pop culture, Luke Skywalker, Bilbo and Frodo. The exact same storyline is, you know, Katniss Everdeen, from Hunger Games that Pevensie children from Narnia. And so kind of going back to our lists. I mean, obviously, I already covered Luke and Frodo, but even like Braveheart, Braveheart, if I'm remembering correctly, he was just like some farm boy from Scotland, his father got murdered. He went off with his uncle and learned about kind of high culture. And then he came back and he led his country to freedom. Aliens is the same way aliens, both Alien and Aliens were really good about setting up characters. It's just like every day, work a day grunts, you know, whether it's soldiers or truckers in space or whatever. And there again, you know, the character gets called off on this mission to do something that they're not sure that they're going to be able to do like in Ripley's case, she goes back to the planet where, you know, they were attacked by these aliens. And so she's not sure how she's going to handle it. And then she, she obviously does. And so you know, it's the same kind of story thing of a, an average person accomplishing extraordinary things.

 

Jack Whitney 

I think. I think this is definitely gonna be another episode. I think Sam, in Lord of the Rings, has more and fits this guideline better. And I've seen arguments on the internet for sure. This is a very popular idea. But Sam, is more of the hero. Yep. In the typical set, like Frodo is a hero, right? But Sam is more of the hero as in a typical hero's journey. Yeah. In the Lord of the Rings, that Frodo

 

Tim Whitney 

is interesting. Yeah, we can talk about that. And there are specific

 

Jack Whitney 

examples I can think of just off the top of my head that point

 

Tim Whitney 

to that. Yeah. Well, and what about like baby driver? How does the plot of baby driver kind of fit this model

 

Jack Whitney 

and so I mean, so you meet the main character baby, kind of in the middle of what he's already going through. And then you see his backstory as the movie progresses. And then at the end, it kind of comes to a head. But there's, there's a lot of, like, the higher the like, quote, like higher mission that maybe a hero goes on, I wouldn't call him a hero, right? But it's like, he doesn't really have a higher mission. But he's kind of you already kind of meet him in the middle of like, the point where, okay, he's already learning how to grow or pass it as a goal or something like that. And he's growing as the movie progresses. I don't know if that movie fits crazy into the typical, you know, hero's journey. But I think definitely like, he, he grows as a character. Yeah. and is able, like the often elevate to higher levels or understanding of our society. I think that's the most prevalent Yeah, in that movie.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. Well, it's interesting that because, like, of all the directors on our list, I think Edgar Wright would be the one who's most likely to, to, like you said today kind of challenge the expectations. But his last movie last night in Soho, by the way, he sets up the main character, like she could not be more boring, humble, every day. And so yeah. Yeah,

 

Jack Whitney 

I feel like too, I feel like too, like, and this is just like speaking me as a whole. Like, before in movies, we would set up these these really perfect, or, like these really perfect people who have to go through a struggle, and they come out on top. Yeah. And everything's happy and good. Yeah. That's what people want in life. Yeah. Right. And now there's a trend of like, somebody's doing good or whatever, they hit a struggle. Yeah. And they go deeper and deeper and deeper. Like, the main character and all these movies is so like, blurred? Yeah, like, and you meet like, I don't know, you. You can go so far. And like taking each character and each specific movie and like, who's the hero or who's really going through the journey? Or Beaubois? You know, that stuff? But I think just it's a reflection of like, where we're at as a whole and like, the creative space. Yeah, like, and as a collective, like, creative group of people and millions of people, right. More people are like, dang, you know, I'm gonna represent that this sucks, or life sucks. This year is gonna suck it up. Yep. And maybe they're not gonna come out on top, you know, somebody's gonna die or something. something's gonna happen. They're gonna lose their powers or whatever is gonna happen. Yeah. I feel like that's super. I just think that's interesting, because I think that's where we've come as a whole. I don't know what the word is like, yeah, like as like a medium. Right? I feel like movies have moved in that direction. Yeah, where like, maybe the hero doesn't win. But yeah, something like there's still sacrifice, but something is learned still at the end of that. So I feel like this interesting. The typical Hero's Journey is good to understand and acknowledge and look at, but I think just like we were talking about before, how creators and producers can play off of now, the typical idea that people have a movie. Yeah. You can do the same thing with the hero's journey. Yeah. And I feel like it's more popular now, almost to go against this thing, because people want more, right. And somehow, some way these millions of creators and all these creative people have come up with ways to push farther than the outlines that have been written out for us. So yeah, I think it's kind of like anything that's happening now in history. It's like, like, like you said, Joseph Campbell, first articulated this hero's journey. Yeah. I think there are people that are smarter than Joseph Campbell, is you are absolutely like, demolishing and doing incredible work. Storytelling. Yeah. Here's a you would never expect.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. So yep. Well, and so there's a, like, I have a whole other episode that I'm thinking about doing it's, like all about is the hero's journey, like even a good thing. Because it's like, it's like for that one, then.

 

Jack Whitney 

Yeah, it's

 

Tim Whitney 

like that. Well, not to skip ahead. But you know, it's like that bit in Fight Club where he is like, you know, movies told us we're gonna be movie stars and rock guy. Yeah, exactly. We're not and we're pissed off. And so a lot of that is like, like people from my generation who grew up with Star Wars. And you know, every Steven Spielberg movie was the same way where it's like, some average kid from suburbia does something super cool. And then you get to the point where you're like, 35. And you're like, Well, none of this stuff has actually happened to me yet. Yeah. And so like, it kind of adds to that angst. And so I think some of what you're talking about, like, I like this turn to maybe a little more dark, humble. Like that, because it's like more adult, it's more like what life is actually like. And like, to their credit. I think return the king did this really well is there's a whole sequence At the end were photos, like, you know, we did all these things. But you know what? It didn't didn't change anything for me. Yeah. And they in fact, things got ruined for me. And I was traumatized by this experience. And so yeah, I am leaving. And that's

 

Jack Whitney 

what, that's why I think, and we don't suffer. That's why I think that Sam is more of the hero's arc. Yeah.

 

Tim Whitney 

So anyways, so the basics. Yeah, the hero's journey is very much about individual achievement. Sometimes it has a spiritual component, you know, like, Star Wars in the force, and that kind of thing, or more profound understanding of how the world works. And it's this whole idea that someone can change their station in life, or they can marry someone from a different, you know, level or caste and, but that whole idea is actually like a relatively new idea in human history. And this is one of the things that Joseph Campbell talks about is like, it wasn't that long ago in human history, where the possibility of you becoming something more than you were that that didn't exist. I mean, born into whatever you were born into. And there were no adventures to go on. And so you're born, you know, a farmer in rural England. And that's what you did. And and so it's really just the last few 100 years that this whole idea that like, I can become something different than what I was born into, has been a part of our culture. And so it doesn't. The Hero's Journey is not like we talked about it in terms of these movies that we like, which are like the superhero fantasy types, but then you see it and like, there's characters like Jurassic Park, or we recently watched Queens Gambit, and the main character in that I mean, it's the exact same model. You know, we talked about Steven Spielberg and kind of every single early Steven Spielberg movie, but even like, in squid game, main characters, same kind of thing. He's this everyday guy down on his luck has an opportunity to do something. At Norton's character in Fight Club, we talked about, you know, anywhere where someone gets drawn into an adventure or a conflict that's bigger than themselves. And you can see why this idea is appealing to people. I mean, the whole idea that you can, like achieve great things no matter where you start. That's like the that's like, America. You know, like That idea is like, no matter where you are, you can get to wherever you want to go. And like I said, in a later episode, we're gonna be talking about whether that's a good idea or not. And so there's a couple of twists to this. There's one where the person actually starts in a place of like, nobility or privilege. And either they like seek something different, or they're made humble. So a lot of the Disney Princesses fall into this category. And they obviously start out as princesses or like the Lion King. What's his name? Simba, Simba? Yeah. I mean, he starts out as a prince and gets humbled. Harry Potter is the same way. You know, he's the boy who lived but he starts out growing up under the stairs. Iron Man and Batman are kind of the same mold where they elect these rich guys who get humbled by these experiences in their life and kind of turn into who, who they're going to be. And then there is there's a variety or variation on this that I actually cannot stand. And that is when there's some kind of prophecy. And the main character is the chosen one. I mean, you want to you want to kick me out of a movie, just say, hey, there's a prophecy with something's gonna happen.

 

Jack Whitney 

So do you hate the prequels?

 

Tim Whitney 

I do. And the whole, like, the whole idea of the prophecy is one of the reasons because like the the value of the hero's journey is hers. It's the person who gets plucked out of obscurity, and they're like something magical. And so when there's like a chosen one, then you're kind of like, so we're just like watching the person. But they but they

 

Jack Whitney 

were wrong. Jedi Order was wrong. No, I know what makes it so good. Is that you think? Yeah, like, you're pissed. You're watching episode two, like, what the hell like that? Really? George Lucas? Like the chosen one. Right? That's going and then you watch episode three, and you're like, like, Dan, like, yeah, actually, the Jedi suck. They're idiots like, well, and

 

Tim Whitney 

it's not like there are some good Chosen One movies like The Matrix is a pretty good movie. And Harry Potter is the same way. But it's like this over reliance on this prophecy to drive this story forward. And like character, if there's ever a prophecy, the characters are beholden to the prophecy in a way that they are not beholden to anything else, and and I just can't stand it.

 

Jack Whitney 

That's so I, I'm gonna run with that for a second. Okay, because I think that, that is why I like episode three so much. Now that you explained that, because like when you think and I didn't know this for a long time, and I didn't think about this for a long time. Until my friends and I were old enough to like, understand this and have a conversation about it. Like, what makes I agree that that kind of thing annoys me. Like, there's, it's like the teacher's pet kind of effect. Like, oh, you have this person that everybody likes. I hate them. Yeah. Like, that's what that like, everybody's experienced at some point in their lives. And it's annoying. Yeah. Because there's so many that, right, whether you've been that person or not, or whether you have watched from the sidelines, like, the person that everybody likes, is annoying when you feel like you can't be that person in life or in movies or whatever. And, and so, I think that's why I like episode three so much when you really examine it. And this is why I think, personally, and we were just getting this album, I think the prequels are like, like secretly really good. Yeah. In not in like a clickbait YouTube way. But like, actually, like shocked face, red circle around, like the storytelling, the storytelling is like, actually pretty good. Like, yeah, the Jedi Order who you think are supposed to be the good guys, because you've thought that for 40 years, or 30 years or whatever, now, or have decided that this kid is the chosen one? Well, they really screwed up, and so to Yoda, and so did everybody else, right? Because this chosen one guy is actually going to kill everybody and kill all your children. Take over the empire, you know? Yep. So it's like, I think I think like, that shows him one. Like, that's a really good example of somebody and a series that took that idea. And made you think it was going one way? Yeah, and that wasn't like a secret. Right, buddy? Right. Right turn. Yeah, we kind of knew what was gonna happen to you. Right? But that the whole idea of like chosen one or whatever it's like, it's like, yeah, it is annoying. But they just use that to show you that the good guys aren't so good. You know, so.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yep. Well, and and again, this is a whole separate episode, but like this is one of the things that frustrated me about the path of the sequels, which is again, we need to get into this like I kind of liked last Jedi and the ideas that Ray was nobody. That's the hero's journey is like, you know, you're nobody

 

Jack Whitney 

else or the podcast off.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. And then it's like, Guy rises Skywalker. Oh no, she's a Palpatine. Like that, just like that whole idea that she, like, she didn't really have a choice cuz she's like, kind of born into this path of fake like anyways, oh yeah, so we will talk about that in other episodes. But the other thing that we wanted to hit on in

 

Jack Whitney 

that episode if you want, you can not skip that

 

Tim Whitney 

says this thing, this thing called the story clock. And this is more of kind of a structural mechanic thing. And it's like how the story beats play out over time. And here again, we see kind of a common pattern. So you may have heard people talk about the three act structure, and were discrete sections of the story that can they're kind of devoted to certain activities. And so the story clock is how you can think about how those ideas play out over time. So this idea, this is not my idea, if you really want like a deep dive, and all of this can go to this website, plot devices.co, where they just look at movies through this lens of the story clock, which is again, like when do certain things happen? And so as you're, if you are a creator, you can think about it in terms of okay, if I have five minutes spent on this, or two hours to spend on this, or 15 minutes or whatever, when, when should or could certain things happen to kind of like meet people's expectations of how this story is, is going to go. And so again, it's not like a hard and fast rule. But it's actually a really useful tool, whether you're talking about character development or moving the plot forward to know when, when things should happen, because the other thing that I think we have an innate sense for now is like, like get to the action or worse, you don't you're not spending enough to I don't know enough about this character. Why don't I know not about this character, it's because they haven't actually spent the time to do it. So yeah, so it's also a good way to think about symmetry between different thematic elements. And so the whole idea of the story clock is you think about the runtime of whatever it is that you're creating around the face of a clock, and I'm moving my fingers, because you can all see what I'm doing with my fingers. And so like with a two hour movie, like half an hour in would be at the three o'clock position, or with like an eight episode show, the fourth episode ends at the six o'clock position or halfway through, so like, your runtimes on a clock. So it's kind of a circle, it starts at the top and an end at the top. And so the way that the story will typically play out in different genres, we'll do this different ways, like horror movies may do this totally differently. But so the first 20 to 25% of the time spent, and again, if you're talking about two hours, well, that's like half an hour. If you're talking about five minutes, well, that's, you know, 4050 seconds. So the first 2020 25% of time is the first act. And in the first act, we're introduced to major characters and themes and the main conflict of the story. And then at the end of the first act, the main character has committed to getting involved, but isn't sure that they possess the quality as Faramir would say. And so again, you know, Luke is a great example. You know, he's introduced to this idea that he could go off with Obi Wan Kenobi Be a Jedi, he doesn't really feel like it. And then his uncle and aunt get get killed, and he decides that he's going to go so that's like the end of the first act. And then everything after that. The second act, I think baby driver the same way at some point he agrees to participate in the highest one

 

Jack Whitney 

last eyes. Yeah, he, so he's, like, been doing the highs for a while. And then there's like, what? There's what he thinks is one last one. Yeah, he participates in that one last one. And then he goes into, he's manipulated, essentially. And and oh, I said, I said we were squared not done. Yeah. And so all of a sudden, he's caught back up in this life and is trying to get out of it. Yeah. Yeah. So that first, yeah, the first 25% of that movie definitely establishes all those things, for sure.

 

Tim Whitney 

So then the next 50 to 60% is the second act. And this is where there's a series of like micro tests or micro adventures, and usually they're a kind of an increasing intensity, where the main character is stretched to bed has to face their inner demons and they also you often have intertwine storylines where you're falling between different characters. And so the whole thing just kind of takes longer. But it's all about this is the place where you see a lot of the character development, like each scene, each adventure, the characters, and it doesn't necessarily have to be the main character, but characters start in one place and end at another place. And then that usually ends with kind of everybody coming together. And then you got the last 20 to 25%, which is the third act, which is kind of direct setup of the final conflict.

 

Jack Whitney 

I love to towers because that whole last section doesn't exist. Right? That is true, like, big. I mean, because it's in a series, right. But that whole last 25% Everybody's split up. Yeah. and right halves at the end of Fellowship of the Ring to Yeah, everybody splits up. Yep. And you're like, oh, okay, here we go.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah, well, it's a it's a really what it's a setup of like everybody coming together to like, solve whatever the problem is in again. So you have, you'll have some movies like Star Wars, where even the third act is the whole battle of the Death Star. So that's the last quarter of the movie. And of course, you know, Luke is successful and in saves the day, but you know, that's, so that's how you can think about how things play out over time. And, again, I know we've kind of kind of rushed through all of this. But if you start watching movies through this lens, you can kind of tell like, where you are in the time, kind of based on what what's going on in the film. And the other thing that's that I think is really cool is that, and I didn't realize this until I started learning about the story clock is there's almost always like, right at the halfway point. There's something that escalates the stakes. And you know, it's kind of the the shit just got real part of the story. And interestingly, like, well, with Star Wars, it's Alderaan gets blown up. And so you see, like, how powerful the Death Star is. And that's the thing that kind of, if you remember, Luke and Obi Wan and Han, they're going to Alderaan and then all of a sudden they have to change course and go go to the Deathstar. Jurassic Park is like another classic one. Like, where would you think the T Rex scene happens in Jurassic Park around the middle? Yeah. Right. So that's a part where it's like,

 

Jack Whitney 

oh, yeah, yeah. And that's a like a baby driver. The part where so bit baby and his girlfriend go to dinner, and Kevin Spacey, his character. All the sudden, he baby realizes at the same time you do that? His Kevin Spacey character knows about the girlfriend? Yes. tracking him knows where he goes, knows about his. His foster father knows about all the jobs that he's doing all this, like all the sudden, what you thought was gonna be the end is just the beginning. Yeah. And that's like, yeah, that's like halfway through the movie. We've already you know, you've established your characters. You think things are going good. And then all of a sudden, holy crap. Like, you're like freaking out with baby as he's like, My life just exploded right in front of me. You know? So?

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah, well, I'm like Fellowship of the Ring is another one. And the only reason I know where the midpoint is, is because it's where the DVDs used to be split up. Yeah. It's like the council l bronze. When Frodo decides that he's going to be the one who takes the ring. And again, it's not like anything kind of violent, or anything happens there. But it's like, Okay, here's a character who just decided to do something. And now it's going to change the fate of the world. And the other one is like aliens. Like, if you had asked me before this when the alien or the Marines go down into the alien nest, and there's the the big attack, I would have said it was much early in the move, but no, it had to happen, like right at the halfway point. And so that, like that's another thing as you're thinking about how you construct your stories, that halfway point is really a good one to say, you know, this is the stakes are high. This is something that really matters. And so this is this is important. All right. So that's about it. I know we've talked for a long time. Like I said, the next episode is going to be more about characters and story arc and that story arc by character arcs and that kind of thing. And so we'll look through the lens of these same movies and what works and what doesn't. Until then, do you have anything else to add?

 

Jack Whitney 

No

 

Tim Whitney 

okay all right until then do what's right love mercy walk humbly tell great stories and drink spirits goodbye