Jonathan has been questioning the veracity of the doom assertion in the ALM / artifact premise. A premise or pitch is a shorthand introduction to a project – typically delivered in less than 15 seconds (and often in an elevator). A great pitch should distill a project and summarize it rather than simplify. Here’s the current version of the ALM pitch.
We know that a sustainable civilization is coming because if it doesn’t show up, we (human beings) are doomed. Since we all expect to survive, survivable civilization(s) must emerge within the next 10 – 15 years. That means they must be already coming together, they must be in the process of emerging right now. We can can expect to find fragments and partially assembled components everywhere. These artifacts of future survivable civilizations can be discovered and shared, growing awareness globally. That is the objective of Around Lake Michigan.
Is this premise inherently misleading and broken? Jonathan offered some interesting insights.
Jonathan – What’s the proof that we are doomed? That reminds me of mainstream media’s fear mongering and exaggeration which makes intelligent folks allergic.
The more I think about it, the more of a core issue it seems this might be, as far as making this site truly communicate with folks.
It isn’t clear who is the source of the information, when you say that there’s dark things up ahead. Where is this prophecy coming from, you (dan kelly), the scientific community, the mainstream media, etc.? If the prophecy is coming from one of these sources, then you need to explain why the audience should be looking to themselves to answer what the solutions are, rather than this source. And that isn’t usually easy.
Example, if the scientific community is saying global warming is the problem to focus on, and people respect them and this opinion of theirs, then they’ll naturally look to the scientific community to tell them exactly what they should do about it. They won’t look to themselves for the answers, because they weren’t even capable of noticing the problem until science pointed it out to them.
Another example is 9/11. From observations and common sense people could see that it was not an accident, but not who was to blame for it. Later that same day the government/media started putting up a picture of Osama Bin Laden, explained who he was supposed to be and that he was supposed to be responsible. And so it was the government/media that folks followed to war, not their own individual pieces of knowledge or independent viewpoints.
If you want to break out of this system, of people following “leaders” or “experts”, and instead trusting in and finding solutions to problems themselves, then they have to become aware of the problem within their own experiences and minds. Otherwise it is just more blind faith. You need to show people the symptoms of a problem they can become aware of within their own life experience, independently. Ask them to confirm what you are saying within the things they have already seen.
Certainly if the artifacts of the solution are already around us, there must also be the artifacts of the problem for people to confirm what is going on for themselves.
Within the context of ALM and this website, you as the stand-in character for the everyman, the joe average, could talk about your personal experiences that made you become an environmentalist. Maybe recount how you saw certain things change over your lifetime that made you aware the present course was heading in a very dark direction.
Then recount some of the artifacts of a possible future way of life, that you experienced over your lifetime, that lead you to start this search for a sustainable way of life.
This reminder about individual experience is indeed powerful and worthy. Mass disconnection from direct experience is what makes the toxic consumption juggernaut possible. On Desire is a DIY effort, it’s about taking personal responsibility for the situation. “What situation?” Jonathan asks. What exactly is our ALM guide, Dan Kelly talking about? Let’s tease out some story from this.
A character effectively developed is believable. The audience travels with the ALM guide because they can relate to him, his struggles and aspirations have been offered and accepted by the audience. They don’t need to agree with him or even like him to go along on his journey, they just have to get him. Search the posts for “guide” for more background on this.
Andrea made the point that Dan Kelly can’t be a detached observer. Who would believe that a detached observer would fix buy a 16 foot cat and sail 1000 miles searching for artifacts of a survivable future? That sounds slightly passionate if not a obviously nuts. This character is motivated by something more compelling than reports on CNN, he is acting from his gut. He may be delusional, but his direct experience has galvanized action.
Of course the audience should look to their own experience, absolutely. That’s what makes character development possible. It’s tricky to ask for that in the premise though, there’s just not enough time. All we need to do is communicate that this is Dan Kelly’s premise, and illustrate how he acquired it.
Now the pitch starts like this… There’s this guy who believes (insert premise). Well – that’s interesting, how did he come to believe that? Cue character development.
The character development will illustrate how this guy’s direct experience – a heady brew of ecstatic physicality, presence with wilderness, speculative storytelling, an affinity for science and intuitive mysticism intoxicated him with the premise.
If the character makes a robust commit to act on his direct experience, that will be an example for others to attend to and act on theirs… and we’ve made a training film.
In conclusion, deconstructing the premise is a useful exercise. The character Dan Kelly has an epic bent. He has a strong feeling that earth and her human inhabitants are facing a crucial moment. Does he conjure the threat of annihilation to spice an otherwise dreary RL existence? Is he tilting at windmills? There’s no story without conflict, right?