The 123,000,000 Mile Traveler | Context, Music Choice, Symbolism
Today, a story about an incredible spacecraft, ideas that drive it forward, and ways that you can use them in your storytelling right now. My name is Jeff Bartsch, this is Story Greenlight. My little son is a huge fan of airplanes, and the California Science Center in Downtown Los Angeles has some pretty cool ones. There’s a fighter jet outside the front entrance, and in the front entryway there’s a glider built by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1902. And up in the main atrium you can see two more fighter jets hanging from the ceiling. But as cool as those are, there’s one aircraft at the museum that far outshines all the others. In 2011, the American Space Shuttle Program officially ended after 135 missions. In 2012, after having flown 25 of them, traveling nearly 123,000,000 miles, the space shuttle Endeavour crossed the country for its own final journey. It landed at Los Angeles International Airport, and over the next four days rolled across the surface streets of LA, sometimes clearing nearby houses or trees by mere inches. At the time, I didn’t make the effort to see this happening in person, somehow not realizing what a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it would be. And I would regret that a lot more, had this incredible vehicle not ended its journey at a place where it could be seen by anyone in person up close. Very, very close. I’ve seen huge airplanes up close before. But this is no ordinary airplane. Each of the Endeavour’s faded tiles speak of epic battles against unthinkable forces of heat and gravity. Crew and cargo were rocketed forward into outer space by now silent engines who knew their mighty power represented only a fraction of the heavy lifting. The real push came first from the men and women who built this ship and the program it represented. But ultimately, the greatest force came from the words and the flag on its side. The dreams of millions of human beings pushing beyond the here and now to strive, to fail, to ultimately accomplish what others said was impossible. While its physical journeys to space may have come to an end, this proud traveler serves an ongoing mission: to inspire all who see to pursue our own journeys. That whatever our endeavours, we put our hand to them with all our might. So whatever your mission might be: Press on. Howdy. Here are some ideas that drive the piece you just saw. No. 1: Shifting of Context. Now, this piece is structured around starting in one space and ending up another place where we didn’t expect. It’s not just “Hey, we went to a museum, it was cool and that’s it”, it was “We went to a museum, we saw some cool stuff, but then we saw some REALLY really cool stuff that we never would have expected, that reminds us of lessons that we can all take forward into our own lives.” Watch the video again and watch how that context shifts from what we expect to something that we don’t. Music choices The piece has three sections that tell the story, and there are three main sections of music. The first piece is kind of an upbeat, exploratory kind of a thing, just like a lighthearted “Hey, we’re going to the museum.” Then, the next piece is the backstory to what we’re going to see in the third piece. Kind of a military, foreboding march kind of a thing. Kind of like an army marching off on a mission, kind of like a space shuttle marching across the streets of Los Angeles inch by inch the way it did. And then, when it gets to the third section of the piece, it’s not some big, blasty, epic thing, because actually, if you go there and you see the shuttle in person they have like big loud… …which I get why they do that, but for this piece I wanted something more intimate, more emotional, that draws people in. Watch the video again and see how the choices of music follow in sequence, they play off each other, and they set up the progression of emotion. Last big idea: Symbolism. Or as I like to call it: The Thing Under the Thing. Now, I was looking forward to go into the museum, and I knew that it was gonna be cool, but when I was actually there, standing underneath that aircraft, my heart started pounding, because I knew that this was much more than an aircraft. And that’s the time when I knew that I had to tell a story about this, because whenever you start connecting with things on a deeper level than what the surface of it seems to be, that’s when you know you have a story that has something powerful to say. This piece is full of symbols – things that mean something more than what they actually are, just as an object or an idea in and of themselves. Go back, watch the video again and see how many of these you can find. They are all over the place. And leave a comment below, tell me your thoughts, I’d like to to hear what you think about this. Areas to improve. I’m gonna come right out and say it: I’ve spent my career here in Hollywood sitting in an edit bay, not operating or standing behind or running and gunning with a camera. So the camera work is not incredible, especially in the third section. I have an app called Hyperlapse that works with the gyroscope on my smartphone to digitally smooth out video, and it does a great job. Unfortunately there’s only so much that it can do when you’re doing what I was doing, walking backwards quickly in flip-flops. The cool thing is, though, it’s not critical to have every single element of your piece completely perfect. This piece is not perfect, very few pieces are. And that’s just the way it is, so take that as an encouragement. Just keep focusing on the most foundational elements that really drive your story and the impact of your emotion forward, and you will find success. So here it is, this is the video No. 1 of the Story Greenlight channel, and I really wanted this to be the first video, candidly because it’s something that I need to keep telling myself. The idea of “whatever you do, do it well.” There will be difficulties, there will be roadblocks, there will be challenges, there will be failure. And there’s no way around that. But challenges are meant to be taken on and overcome. And we will come out on the other side, the better for it. If you’ve appreciated this video, hit the like button, hit the subscribe button and leave a comment about what you think. What resonated with you? What didn’t resonate with you? Let’s keep this conversation going. So, until then, I’m Jeff Bartsch. And consider this your green light to take your stories to the world.