BPS 050: The Alchemy of Storytelling with John Bucher

We made it to 50 EPISODES! So grateful the show has taken off. Thanks for all the support!

Today on the show we have storytelling guru John Bucher, who is a renowned strategist, communicator, and cultural mythologist based out of Hollywood, California. Disruptor named him one of the top 25 influencers in Virtual Reality in 2018.

“John Bucher is an influencer. He’s one of our most prolific contributors.” — HBO

He is the author of six books including the best-selling Storytelling for Virtual Reality, named by BookAuthority as one of the best storytelling books of all time. John has worked with companies including HBO, DC Comics, The History Channel, A24 Films, The John Maxwell Leadership Foundation and served as a consultant and writer for numerous film, television, and Virtual Reality projects. Currently, he teaches writing and story courses as part of the Joseph Campbell Writers Room at Studio School in Los Angeles and at the LA Film Studies Center. He has spoken on 5 continents about using the power of story to reframe how products, individuals, organizations, cultures, and nations are viewed.

John is a prolific writer.

STORYTELLING FOR VIRTUAL REALITY

Storytelling for Virtual Reality serves as a bridge between students of new media and professionals working between the emerging world of VR technology and the art form of classical storytelling. Rather than examining purely the technical, the text focuses on the narrative and how stories can best be structured, created, and then told in virtual immersive spaces. Author John Bucher examines the timeless principles of storytelling and how they are being applied, transformed, and transcended in Virtual Reality. Interviews, conversations, and case studies with both pioneers and innovators in VR storytelling are featured, including industry leaders at LucasFilm, 20th Century Fox, Oculus, Insomniac Games, and Google.

A BEST PRACTICE GUIDE TO SEX AND STORYTELLING

A great deal of storytelling in film and television involves narratives that include sexual situations and nudity. The increased amount of on-line and streaming content outlets has, in turn, increased the number of narratives that involve these once-taboo subjects. Often, even though directors and producers desire to handle such issues with professionalism, sets become awkward when producing these scenes. A Best Practice Guide to Sex and Storytelling serves as a helpful tool for guiding creators through these waters.

MASTER OF THE CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

Master of the Cinematic Universe is a guide to the future of transmedia storytelling. Content creators of every flavor are constantly needing to expand the mediums they can work in. This volume serves as a resource for using the timeless truths of story structure to craft established as well as up and coming short-form media formats.

STORYTELLING BY THE NUMBERS

Storytelling By The Numbers is a collection of essays and articles that John Bucher has written for LA Screenwriter and a variety of other outlets. All are meant to strengthen storytellers and scriptwriters. Bucher examines trends and tropes found in current film and television and uses these examples to demonstrate how and why they work as storytelling devices. Writers from any genre, working with any type of narrative can finds jewels of wisdom and applicable nuggets for their own ideas. The collection also features ten powerful writing prompts to assist writers in creating or developing a script idea from a single character.

Enjoy my conversation with John Bucher.

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Alex Ferrari 0:36
I'd like to welcome the show john Booker, brother, thank you so much for being on the show.

John Bucher 4:46
Hey, it's my pleasure. I've been a fan of what you've done here for a long time, and it's real honor to be on the show.

Alex Ferrari 4:52
Thank you so much, man. I appreciate it. So before we get into it, man, how did you get into this ridiculous business we call the film industry.

John Bucher 5:00
Well, it's sort of a funny story actually. I was involved in music in high school, and I thought music is what I wanted to do with my life. And I went to college. And I decided, you know, if I'm going to go into music, I should learn how to be an engineer, you know, somebody who sits behind these big production boards. And so I looked at my college catalog, and it said, they had something called the Recording Arts. And I said, excellent, that sounds great. So I signed up for the first class and the first day of classes, they pushed a TV camera out onto the floor. And I realized I had actually signed up for this course where it can film and television Recording Arts meant visual recording, not music. And I was too embarrassed to say anything. So I just went, you know, through the first courses, and I found out that I loved this medium. So I began making short films and writing screenplays in creating work. And I, you know, began to realize that this is actually something people do as a career. And I knew I wanted to tell stories, the rest of my life. And so this, this medium sort of came and found me,

Alex Ferrari 6:15
basically, and I'm assuming you've, you've gone through a couple of landmines and trenches while working in the business you've, you've taken some shrapnel along the way.

John Bucher 6:25
My God, man, I could tell you stories all day long. I the first time I arrived in Hollywood, the very first job I got here was working on a reality show called flavor of love.

Alex Ferrari 6:41
Oh, Mike. Okay. Do you stop right there? I saw I saw the three seasons.

John Bucher 6:45
Okay, you're

Alex Ferrari 6:46
I was I was a fan of flavor of love. I'm sorry, everyone listening, do not think any less of me. Now, this was a darker time in my life where I was not educating myself as much as I should have been. And I was vegging out. And I was obsessed with flavor of love. and New York. And and what it was that the Bret Michaels thing I saw right afterwards. Yeah.

John Bucher 7:11
I worked on all those shows. Man, I love New York. Rob love, I worked on all those shows. That worked as a production assistant, okay, at the lowest levels. And man, I can tell you stories, just war stories from those shows. But I gotta tell you, it also gave me a taste for what working in this business on a daily grind is like, and, you know, I sort of began to love this idea of just being on sex every day. And the way that you know, the the producers of the show, were crafting something that was tremendously entertaining. Now, like you, I'm a bit embarrassed about it. When I was working on it, I wouldn't even tell my mother what show I was working on because I didn't want her to tune in and watch it and be so disappointed in me.

Alex Ferrari 8:01
You mean to tell me that that show wasn't real?

John Bucher 8:04
Oh my gosh.

Some of the finest writers in Hollywood crafted the storylines that you saw on TV. That is remarkable.

Alex Ferrari 8:15
You know and there's no I I've done a little bit of reality work but mostly in posts I know actually argue No, I actually was a PA on some Nickelodeon reality shows back in the day, when I first started out, but there's nothing like being on a reality show to kind of its you want to talk about getting shrapnel. Ryan, you want to talk about hardening that, that that shell around that skin, man working in reality is like oosh It's rough. It's a rough scenario for any for every and everybody involved from the VA to all the way to the top because, you know, a lot of times you're not working with professional, be professional, you know, talent, right? And all the egos get a little bit out of control sometimes.

John Bucher 9:04
So for everybody, yeah, let the crew everybody is on a hustle. And everybody is just trying to make this something that will be successful. So everybody makes more money and gets more work. It's sort of an environment completely crafted around fear in many ways that you know, this is going to be a big embarrassment or it's going to be a career killer for a lot of people rather than a career maker.

Alex Ferrari 9:32
Yeah, it's you know, there are reality shows are fantastic. I mean there are Emmy Award winning and things like that but like I even did a my one of my short runs and post I did I did a color grading on a like, bridal dress show like you know you wear the dress or you sell the dress or you make the dress. I lasted three or four episodes before I just like I can't I just can't. This is the most unprofessional situation I've ever been And and I mean and I and I work in independent film like I mean I would 1515 different camera setups different color spaces different every I'm like, do you guys even like Have you even like, taken a YouTube course on how to shoot stuff? I couldn't I just couldn't. It's insane All right, so you definitely

John Bucher 10:21
did that old documentary, American movie about the

Alex Ferrari 10:26
fantastic love that love is fantastic.

John Bucher 10:30
And it probably is the closest thing you'll ever see to how reality shows get made. It's it's, you know, 27 different camera setups with every color balance and F stop known to man on cable coming in and out of the project. It is a very, very close representation of what making a reality show is like, and what was it called American

Alex Ferrari 10:57
American movie? Yeah, American movie, not American, the American movie. Anyone who's listening, go and rent American movie. It is arguably one of the most stellar documentaries on the independent filmmaking process ever. And it's just so entertaining to watch. brutto. It's also brutal to watch. It's like watching Deadwood. When you saw Edward for the first time the timber and Deadwood movie, you're crying. You're just like, if you're a director just like put just give him too much. Let him make his movie.

John Bucher 11:27
Why do you? And would you also not say that like after watching that there's no excuse for me not to go make my film after watching what this guy goes through to make his like, this guy's got way worse off than any situation I've ever been in. If he can do it, anybody should do it.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
I mean, we could we could go down this road of conversations in regards to Edgewood and how fantastic his films were in the way that he made them. But that movie The the Tim Burton movie, you sit there going, Oh, like, you know, getting a whole bunch of dentists together and like literally putting together plastic plates to make saucers. And he had no understanding of any sort of aesthetic or quality. But man that he made up with it with passion. Passion, passion. Another movie everyone should go watch Edward starring Johnny Depp as the the infamous Edward. So let's get into it. So I know we could because I feel that we could talk about this for a while. We were gonna have a good chat in this episode. I have a feeling. So you are a mythologist? If I make a website, yeah, mythology. So what is a mythologist? Well, you

John Bucher 12:39
know, first of all, it's someone who goes to graduate school to study mythology, somebody who, you know, devotes their time, effort, education, finances, you know, to the study of mythology. And I later this year in completing my PhD in mythology, in the reason I became interested in that was I wanted to learn about the stories behind the stories. What are these stories, you know, that keep appearing in different places around the globe? throughout history? Why, for example, do we keep telling the story of Cinderella, in a million different cultures throughout history over and over and over again? Why do we keep telling the story of Hercules, you know, we've got basically every movie with the rocker Vin Diesel is another version of the Hercules story. So why do we keep telling these stories over and over again, I wanted to learn about that. So I went and spent several years of my life, you know, taking these classes and reading these books and listening to the greatest mythologists in the world talk about why human beings keep being drawn to the same narratives over and over again. And of course, we end up studying a lot of the, what many would say was the greatest mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who had such an influence on George Lucas in the creation of the original Star Wars, which being the Star Wars fan, I was familiar with Joseph Campbell, I knew that Star Wars was based on this mythological idea of the hero's journey. And I wanted to know more about that. And I think, you know, in the last few years, have there been a people there have been a lot of people who have, you know, anytime somebody finds value in something or really likes something, there's like a whole group of people that rise up that want to tear that down and wanted to talk about why that's not you know, a good thing or a helpful thing. In you know, what I really have an issue with with people that make their whole careers or make their whole online presence, about trying to tear down someone else's work. I feel like the the value to the hero's journey is it's tremendous. It doesn't mean that every story that's ever, you know, hit the screen needs to be about the hero's journey. As a matter of fact, Joseph Campbell was a guy who's he was not prescriptive in what he was saying he didn't say, in order to tell a good story, you need to have these elements. He was being descriptive of the stories he had saw throughout the centuries, and throughout history of what had worked well, and what had risen up and storytelling, you know, in all these different cultures throughout history, so it wasn't even meant to be a prescriptive thing. You know, it's not trying to make storytelling formulaic. What it really is, is getting to the base psychology of how human beings solve problems. And the way that we put that in narrative form.

Alex Ferrari 15:47
Yeah, there's, I mean, obviously, I'm wearing the Lucasfilm t shirt. And I'm also you see a giant life size Yoda in the background. So you know that I'm also a Star Wars fan. And, and, you know, I'm also very familiar with Joseph Campbell's work anybody, anyone who's a screenwriter should at least read the hero's journey, or at least the writers journey by Chris Vogler. That is amazing as well. It is remarkable how we continue to tell the same stories again, and again. And I think it was the first time I ever really understood that we were telling the same stories, again, against when I read Syd fields book. Yeah, that was a first time it was like, I think, late as maybe first year at college or out of high school, excuse me. And I read, I was like, wait a minute, you mean, all movies are like, and then you start going back in your head, like, this movie did it too. And this movie did it too. And this movie did, there is a there is a structure that goes all the way back to the Greeks, and obviously farther back, but the Greeks really took it and ran with it. There is a structure and well poetics, basically,

John Bucher 16:52
Aristotle's poetics. And, you know, he was the first one who said that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. And we get our three act structure from that. Now, what's what's interesting there is a lot of people say, well, that's just common sense or whatever. But that was not how stories were being told before, then, really, they were being told in two act structures. And if you go see a play today, most plays still have two acts. So the idea of telling a story and three act structure was pretty revolutionary, because it used to be that a single actor would be on the stage with a comedy mask or a tragedy mask. And you would basically have the actor, you know, portraying the story all themselves. And then we had a Greek tragedy, one who, who writes this idea of adding a second actor to the mix, and having two actors, one that wears the comedy mask, and one that wears the tragedy mask. And then we have another Greek tragedy that adds this idea of the Greek chorus, who stand up behind the actors, and they seeing what's happening sort of in the backstory, all these developments allowed us to start being able to tell more and more complex stories, we could have never gotten to something like the Avengers, you know, which is this long, long, epic story, that without advancing incrementally into how stories are told, in more and more complex ways, you know, the Avengers is tremendously complex. And sometimes we like to say, Well, yeah, that's the way a story should be told. But it took processes for us to get there in order to have these multi hour stories that audiences can follow. So I think Aristotle was really onto something. Let me just also say, and I'd be interested to know, you know, how you feel about this, your lives in this world. I feel like you know, oftentimes, it's become sort of invoke, to sort of trash, any ideas about structure in modern storytelling. I would say this, though, you know, it's not about formula, but it is about form. writers are the only group of artists that really trashed the idea of structure. Sometimes, you never have musicians that come in and say, you know, I'm going to write a song, and I'm going to create a new chord that no one's ever heard before. I'm going to not use the chords and notes. You never have an artist that comes in and tries to create new colors that no one's ever seen before. You'd never have an architect that says, I'm going to design a house with no floor and no ceiling and no windows and no walls. You know, but it doesn't mean that every painting looks alike. It doesn't mean that every song sounds alike, or that every house is looks alike. I think we have to understand that structure is necessary for us to be able to build something that resonates with an audience. But it doesn't I mean, it's the only form of storytelling out there, there are stories that just explore the character who a character is and trying to get down deep into that. But I think sometimes we like to just throw paint up on the wall in whatever sticks. We say, well, that's what I meant to do. I'm just I'm not gonna be bound by these things. And sometimes I think it's laziness more so than anything else. But I'd be curious to know what what your take is on that.

Alex Ferrari 20:29
I, I have strong feelings about this? Because I, because writers in general, are screenwriters specifically? Anybody? It's not like I listened to john Williams score. And I say, Oh, I can go do that. Because I listened to it. Yeah. And it's the same thing for filmmakers and screenwriters, like, oh, I'll watch movies or I read a screenplay, I guess I can go do that. There's not it's like the the level of entry or the barrier to entry is so low for screenwriters, meaning that you could just you need a laptop, final draft and an idea and some basic understanding of how to how to structure or format a screenplay and you're automatically a screenwriter. And it's not that. And when I see, when I see filmmakers or screenwriters start saying, Oh, well, oh structure or that save the cat thing, or all this kind of stuff is not good. I look at it differently, in the sense that I feel that that a lot of that's insecurity, because it's insecurity, and its ego in their own mind, because they're like, I can do it better. I don't need structure like, you do need, maybe you need a blueprint to build a house, man. And not every house looks the same. That's right, you know, it's the bottom line, you just need a blueprint. And that blueprint can change dramatically. You know, you could have five doors in the front of the house, if you want to end and the bathroom could be on the roof. It's fine if you want to do that. But you still need to have the rules of the game in order to play and I think structure allows you to do that I when I write I love structure dramatically, because it's like, it's like, mile markers for me on where I can like put things in struct and I can move those mile markers when I want to. But they're there, you know, and they just kind of like okay, here, I can hang my hat on this. I can hang my hat on to that, and so on. And I think it's so important for for screenwriters to understand. The structure is not an enemy. It's actually a friend of yours. And when you look at these stories like Joseph Campbell's, you know, work, and the hero's journey, like look, we all know anyone listening to this should know the hero's journey, the basic, it has been beaten, and beaten and beaten to death ever since Joseph Campbell came up, or at least presented it to the world that already been there just packaged it and presented it to the world. We all know a variation of the hero's journey. Yeah. Is the hero's journey for every single story. I don't think so I don't I mean, try to throw the hero's journey on a detective story. It's gonna be really tough. That's right. It's a really tough scenario.

John Bucher 23:06
So in what you're saying there is so important because Joseph Campbell wrote this book, The hero with 1000 faces in 1949. Right long time ago. It was meant to describe these things that he saw. I am someone who believes right now. We could do well to take an interest in some of the other things that Joseph Campbell wrote about and one of the things he wrote about is alchemy. And it's a really interesting part of the study of mythology to look at alchemy, and I am working on some theories right now around storytelling, alchemy, because alchemy, was this practice basically, of turning lead into gold. It was this process, you know, that these magicians and chemists and religious

Alex Ferrari 23:53
people, wizards, yes, sir.

John Bucher 23:55
wizards. Yeah, they would, they would try to take these elements and combine them in order to make gold. So I've sort of got this theory that I'm working on that I'm calling, storytelling alchemy. And what it is, is basically taking narrative elements and combining them in order to create something different. The best example that I could make is,

Alex Ferrari 24:18
if you took

John Bucher 24:21
a glass vase, and you filled it full of every thing we know about story, everything we know about developing characters, and about three act structure and five acts structure for television and every aspect of symbolism, and everything we know about story if you put it in a glass vase, and then dropped it on the ground, and it shattered into a million pieces. And let's say we took all those different pieces, and we created a mosaic on the wall of something beautiful, a new art form. That I think is what we're seeing right now with a lot of short form. video with a lot of long form storytelling through the streaming services, we're seeing people take, you know, value and all these elements from character like people have studied in depth how characters should develop and psychology of characters. And people are taking elements of three act structure, but they want to, you know, put put a twist on it, and make it sort of episodic in nature. And we're taking all these elements, and we're creating a new mosaic of something that's beautiful that people enjoy. But it still has all these elements that we know to be true about storytelling. And so I think it's it's a form of alchemy, where maybe all we're doing is we're taking elements that we know about what makes a character work. And we're combining that with audience agency and creating something like bandersnatch, which was the black mirror, you know, spin off movie that allowed the audience to make decisions and have agency. And I think, you know, something like that. How do you tell a three act story in something where the audience has agency, which is, you know, an experimental thing that's going on with storytelling? Well, we still can take these narrative shards that we pick up off the broken glass and create a new Mosaic, and it's still got the elements, they just may not be in the same order that we've experienced them before.

Alex Ferrari 26:22
You know, I think that you bring up a very good point. I mean, you wrote a book obviously called the masters of the cinematic universe, which talks about transmedia. And I do think that there is a lot of opportunity for writers because a lot of writers listening right now a lot of screenwriters are all stuck in the same old school way of telling stories. And I don't say that in a derogatory manner, but like just a standard, you know, legacy, meaning screenwriting, writing a novel, writing a book, you know, those kind of storytelling, vehicles, television, and so on. But now there is so many multiple ways that you can write and tell stories and all these other platforms. Before we get into that though, can you tell me in your definition, what is transmedia because it is a word that's thrown around. It was kind of like what was that back in the day? multi? Oh, god, what was that word? Like with CD ROMs. And

John Bucher 27:19
multimedia

Alex Ferrari 27:20
multimedia? Yes. That was like multimedia player and multimedia. Like it was one of these all like these token words that like, thank God, it's gone. But it was like one of these things like it's a multimedia thing. Like transmedia has turned it into something like that. So can you explain exactly what transmedia is? Absolutely, and

John Bucher 27:39
transmedia? You're right? It's become a buzzword. And it's sort of grown to a point where people just don't even really know what it is. The original idea behind transmedia is that you can create a story that can move between mediums and platforms. Now, a great example of this is what we've seen with with the stories of say, Spider Man or the Avengers or Batman, we started with these stories being told through the medium of comic books, right? Then we saw these stories being told through video games and through movies and through television shows. And basically, these same stories are able to move between mediums. And that's really what transmedia storytelling is, is creating a story that's able to be expressed, regardless of what medium it is, it's sort of something that came out of the explosion of technology that allowed us to start telling stories and a lot of different ways. In some people, somebody would come up with a really good idea for a story, they would go in and pitch it. And an executive might say, you know, that's a really good story. Our film, slate is really full right now. But maybe we could we could, you know, tell that through the medium of television, or maybe we should send that story over to our video game division. And so people begin trying to create stories that would be powerful and be impactful regardless of the medium that they were expressed in. Now, on one hand, this is great, because we have more ways to tell and express a story. On the other hand, people begin to ignore the fact that every particular medium, actually has rules in has form that that helps that story work best. So it's, it's not possible, really, just to take a story. That would be a feature film and just plug it in as a television show. You've got to recraft it, you've got to recraft it for the medium in a way that makes it work. Now, television even has really changed dramatically since we've had all these streaming services come into play. Now people binge watch shows. So it's not about trying to end a story every week in a place That brings the audience back to see it the next week, because people can binge the show and just watch the next episode right away. So, you know, we have to look at these various mediums and try and understand how we express any good story idea through the form of that medium. And that's really what the book master of the cinematic universe is about, is trying to look at those forums and say, Okay, if you have a good story idea, how are you going to then pour it into the appropriate shape? The appropriately shaped glass in order for the audience to want to drinking?

Alex Ferrari 30:39
Yes. It's kind of like video game movies like there. I can't, I'm sure there's one or two that are good, but the majority of them are horrendous? Or is it because they're trying to take the medium of from a video game and plop it into a narrative feature film, and it's just very difficult because it's just different. You know, the storytelling in a video game is massive and in scope, and you can go 1000 different directions and to try to jam that all into an hour and a half. Yeah, is it's difficult. It's extremely difficult. I mean, can you recommend Do you remember a video game movie? That was good enough?

John Bucher 31:16
Maybe, maybe, you know, there was something I liked about the most recent Tomb Raider. There was some things I liked about that. Great movie. But I tell you, I've had more bad experiences than good. I really, you know, saw the trailer a year or so ago for Assassin's Creed. And I thought, Oh, man,

Alex Ferrari 31:37
it looks good. Now, I know,

John Bucher 31:39
in the movie was one of the worst that you get Michael Fassbender, you know,

Alex Ferrari 31:47
it's great to know.

looked fantastic. It was horrible. So now, so this brings us into something else. And I know we're gonna we're walking on land mines on this next, this next account, which I think you know where I'm going with this. So you work for you've worked with vertical comics. All right, which for everyone listening vertical comics is is kind of it's part of the DC Universe. And I've always said the vertical is a wonderful I mean, what they do with their storytelling is fantastic. They, they made movie, movies were based on their books like watchman and V for Vendetta, and a handful of other ones as well, that are really, really good. And that side of the DC Universe I have utmost respect for. But there's another side of the DC Universe. That is not the Chris Nolan Batman, right? Or the Tim Burton Batman or any standalone Batman movies, let's just throw it out there generally, or the original Superman. Other than those exact exemptions, the DC Universe has been a colossal failure in my opinion, and I know people can look I did a whole YouTube video about this. I don't care if it made money. I don't I'm not a fan. You know, I there's elements of that that I do enjoy. I'm a comic book guy like everybody else. But there's been a lot of failures there and look, and I'm not the only one to say this. Everyone. I said it even Warner Brothers is like, we just can't Wonder Woman actually was actually I enjoyed Wonder Woman very much. And I thought I thought Aqua man was fun. Probably one of the more fun ones. I think they could have let let Jason momoa loose a little bit more, but they kind of held them back. But that's just me. We're geeking out guys, but we are going to get to story in a second. I want to In your opinion, what is the difference in why the DC universe's way of Cinematic Universe has failed so epically you know, the Suicide Squad just atrocious. But arguably one of the greatest trailers I've seen in the last 20 years without question how they're how they've been able to fail so epically with arguably three at least of the most iconic superheroes ever created Wonder Woman Batman and Superman and yet Marvel who's lost most of their a level guys and girls through bad business dealings back in the day they lost Spider Man and x men and all these other properties and they came in with and please everyone just said just calm down before I say they came in with B level characters you know as far as Iron Man Thor I've been a Marvel guy all my life those are not a level characters they're not like they weren't selling off like fantastic for you know, the one that has it for but but Thor Iron Man, Captain America, these characters were not huge character. They were popular stuff but they're not better. So they were able to bring that and they've done this instead. seine run of 11, I think 11 years now and created this insane Marvel universe that now as we just recorded this and game came out a couple weeks ago and is now broken. They're the second highest rate of the second biggest movie of all time, and it will become the biggest movie of all time. Because it was it got to that point in less than two weeks. There's a reason why people are so attached. And it's not just visual effects. It's not just spectacle. There's something so deep in story, please, in your opinion, what made Marvel work, as opposed to DC and then I'll give you my humble opinion as well.

John Bucher 35:37
Okay, well, as you mentioned, this is definitely riddled with landmines. I'm gonna do my best here. Fun one

Alex Ferrari 35:45
a lot. A lot of hate mail is getting a lot of hate email is coming. I could I could see it already.

John Bucher 35:50
Right. I think there's a couple of things. One, I do think the point that you make about Marvel really built their success, their recent success on characters that were not there a list characters. I think that has a great deal to do with it actually, because expectations for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the expectations for those characters, the backstory, the mythology behind those characters, is so ingrained in the audience's mind. We have such a strong psychological idea of what those characters do, and what types of stories they can be involved in. It makes it like walking a tightrope trying to tell especially stories on the big screen about those characters. I think we've seen you know, the the Batman universe and the Superman universe work really well. Actually, in the the television market. Smallville, I thought was a really good show.

Alex Ferrari 36:52
Wonderful.

John Bucher 36:53
Yeah. But with Marvel, you know, you have basically the people who went in to see these Marvel films, for the most part, didn't have a lot of expectations didn't have a lot of backstory or knowledge about how Iron Man became Iron Man, about, you know, anything more than than the Hulk may be used to be a scientist, maybe they knew that maybe they didn't. But for the most part, Marvel was able to build their current mythology around these characters from the ground up in the mind of the audiences. And I think that was a lot easier tasks to pull off than what DC faced. Also, the nature of DC characters versus Marvel characters from a storytelling perspective, is is challenging because basically, with DC characters, and this is not all of them. But for the most part, DC characters are born with the gift, right? They're born with the supernatural power Superman. He's born with it Wonder Woman, she's born with that Green Lantern born with it. Marvel characters, for the most part, received the gift through some sort of mistake in technology, or they usually, you know, are regular people that are endowed with this gift. And it usually involves some sort of diabolical thing that happens with technology. I think that idea of our technology, being something that that damages us that we have to then overcome is something that really resonates with people psychologically, in this day and age, we recognize that we're giving up something by giving away all our privacy and giving away all our time to our cell phones. These are things that we know we have great advantages for. But we also know we're giving up something, but we'd like to think we're still going to win in the end. And so I think the Marvel mythology really speaks to that and plays to that. That's just one guy's humble opinion. Please don't ask me on Twitter. But one guy's opinion of why I think we may have seen a lot more success, at least in the cinematic universe with Marvel. Now do you? Do you would you agree that and this is what I this is my been my theory about about this, and we won't go on this for another hour, I

Alex Ferrari 39:15
promise. But I've always felt that DCs characters are all essentially gods, you know, they're all Gods like in their own way. So Green Lantern is essentially a God and His powers so is Wonder Woman so as Superman so as Martian Manhunter, you know, other than Batman, who I've always argued to state that is a Marvel character in the DC Universe, because he, he was in he was a normal guy that got endowed with the technology and had to deal with his stuff. You know, you know as Thor is a God, but a very non God's like, God, like he has weaknesses. He, these other ones, they're just so hard to write for, like, I remember watching a documentary on Superman and there Like, yeah, we get to a point with Superman blew out a star. Yeah, with his breath, like, where do you go from that? You know, like there's nothing like on a just narrative standpoint, where's the conflict? It's it's harder to write for those characters disagree?

John Bucher 40:15
I would completely agree it's, it's tough when we're dealing with Gods This is why, by the way in mythology when the Greek gods, you know, were created by the Greeks to tell you know, they told stories about them. They're all really imperfect gods, that that's the reason their stories have endured forever is actually they're projections of human beings on different aspects of who we are. The Greek gods are more like human beings than the humans in the Greek mythology, mythological stories. And so I think that's one reason I think, also people have gravitated towards Marvel in this day and age with with the films has been Iron Man seems more like a guy you'd like to go get a beer with than Superman or Batman, you know, we they seem more like us seem more relatable. They're not so much the projections of who we want to be on our best days, like Batman and Superman. So that's it. And that said, I love that man. Super cool. I actually prefer the DC characters more than the Marvel characters, but there's no denying the success that Marvel has had at the box office. And I would agree with you Like, I

Alex Ferrari 41:31
would not want to have a beer with Batman, but I would definitely want to have a beer with Tony Stark, like, there's just no, you know, Batman is gonna be brooding about things. You know, he's just, he's just an angry dude. But I'm a huge Batman fan. And so I love what Nolan did with Batman and Dark Knight, arguably, arguably the best superhero movie ever made, in my opinion, you know, with Logan coming up probably real close second, in my opinion. I mean, they're just, you know, they're just at a different playing field. I enjoy the Avengers. I enjoy all those stuff. But there's just there's something really deep in those other movies. Yeah, it's it's, it's it's a very interesting topic, and I shall we could we could have a whole episode on the Marvel DC. And, and one last thing before I finish on that Marvel, DC thing I have to I just have to, okay. In your opinion, as well, do you believe that, you know, DC I felt like DC was trying to mimic or copy or catch up with this kind of false like race that they were with with Marvel, Marvel had like a five year headstart on them building this universe, and they're just trying to jam everything in, where if they would have taken their time, and done literally just, they could have done the blueprint. They could have literally stolen the blueprint for Marvel and just built it out little by little, then do the Justice League, then bring in maybe Suicide Squad and like it was laid out for them. But they were just in such a rush. Yeah. Do you agree? Yeah,

John Bucher 43:01
I do. And I think this is actually just to loop it back into story. I think this is something that writers and storytellers really can learn a valuable lesson from, because many of us have a great idea for a story or, you know, a scene. And we're quick to sort of get that into our story. And then we get into like the second act or the third act, and we really sort of have our characters just sort of wandering around because we've we've done this big thing we wanted to do. And so I think there's always a temptation to, to not appropriately pace our storytelling. And I think that's what we saw with DC on a great level. And I think you and I would both also agree as storytellers, pacing is hard to master. It's really difficult in a story paced is one of the hardest things to do. And I think we even see, you know, the big boys fail it this way. Yeah, they they try sometimes because it's hard to do.

Alex Ferrari 44:09
Yeah, and there's no question. And I always tell people to like, just because you have $200 million, doesn't mean you know what you're doing it's it's, it's like going up to the bat, like, just because you're Babe Ruth doesn't mean you're gonna hit a home run every time. That's right. You know, it's just an expensive swing at the bat. It's a variable expensive swing at the bat.

John Bucher 44:34
Yeah, so it's

this sort of actually, if you allow me one more divergence here. I think it's something that actually is a helpful thing for writers to storytellers to consider right now. is you know, it is a big swing at the Bat every time we devote ourselves to you know, writing 120 pages, you know, for a story or writing, you know, a TV pilot, I think because every swing of the bat is so expensive. Um, one of the things I'm finding right now, I think that writers really can be doing as a favor to themselves is becoming as diverse is possible in their storytelling ecosystem. So I'm working on a book right now called the creative ecosystem. And here's sort of my idea. My life got so much simpler A few years ago, when I stopped trying to narrow myself down to one single job description. When I would get on an airplane and people would ask me what I do, it was tough because I'd say, Well, I'm a writer, I write books. And I write screenplays. But I also am a teacher. And I'm also a speaker. And sometimes I go and I do story consulting for studios. And, you know, it was tough to describe. And Alex, when I finally got to a point where I stopped trying to narrow my job description down to a single title, and embrace my work is this ecosystem built around story, my life got a lot simpler. So some days, I get up, and I'm in the mountains of screenwriting, and I have highs and lows, and it's wonderful. Some days, I'm in the deserts of speaking, and I'm out in front of people. And it's tough, and it's dry, my throat needs water. And some days, I'm in the swamps of story consulting, and it's mushy, and it's messy. And I found out just like a real ecosystem, I, as a creative person, have to constantly have new rivers and streams coming into the ecosystem, I also have to have things going out of the ecosystem waste going out that story that I keep coming back to that I just keep wanting to tell, sometimes you gotta just let that script go, and let that be waste that goes out of the ecosystem. And so I'm working on this book right now, that is meant to encourage writers living in the gig economy, you know, where a lot of us are driving Uber or driving Lyft. or doing door to action, we have seven different things we're doing in order to make ends meet and make a living. And writer writing may just be one of those things. But managing your life and managing your creative work is an ecosystem just like we have here on the planet, bringing new streams in bringing things out. Having forests that I go in, I've meditated, and I sort of just stay in my my research place, having a beach on your ecosystem, this is just where you go for fun. And you don't have to worry about you know, work at all. But having all those things as part of your creative ecosystem, I feel like is one of the most significant ways that writers can approach their creative life right now. And again, I think it's a lesson we're learning from big companies like Marvel and DC. They've had to expand their ecosystems if, if DC were only trying to tell stories through movies right now, if they didn't have video games and comics, they'd be done. Well, we as writers need to take a lesson from that need to say, Okay, how can I develop my ecosystem? Where if my scripts aren't paying the bills, right now, what are other areas that I can be writing in, that I can be doing in order to form a creative life that's

Alex Ferrari 48:30
meaningful? That is fantastic. That is a fantastic idea for a book it is I've never heard it put that way before. So I am excited to read that book, when it comes out. And I'm sure everyone listening is too because it's, it's so true. Like You I, I have so many hyphens it's it's not even funny. Like I have so many hyphens in my world, like what do you do? I'm like, Well, I'm a blogger, I'm a podcast, I'm a director, I'm a writer I'm I do post do this, it just keeps going on and on. So it's very difficult. But I love the concept of coming in and going out. The going out for creatives is probably the toughest problem problem because you will hold on to that script that you spent a year of your life on but you really just need to take some x lakhs and just let it go. Just let it go. Loosen the bowels and let that go. Because it's not going to it's just stopping you up. I'm sorry, ready to be crass, but it is but it's a great analogy because as creatives I've done it in my life, I'm sure you have to hold on to something bigger like but I've spent so long on this movie or I've spent so long on this script and I got to hold on to it because if not that year I just went through is a waste. And I would I would argue that the year that you just went through is not a waste even if the product might not make it. The education you got the experience you got is invaluable and you learn much more about yourself and about everything when you fail. than when you when you when you learn nothing from the winds. That's right. Do you agree?

John Bucher 50:02
I completely agree. And that's, that's why if you look at your work as an ecosystem, in order for the ecosystem as a whole, to stay healthy, you need those outputs, you need to be disposing of the waste, because that is what's going to keep the whole ecosystem healthy enough to be able to say, you know, what, that waste that I'm letting go of? It's there, because there was work put in that strengthen some other part of the ecosystem, you know, so that when I'm in the forest, just doing research, and I'm just thinking through my story ideas, and I'm working on outlines and working on, you know, that is not wasted time, we tend to think that, you know, it's only the time sitting in front of the computer at the keyboard, you know, that is his actual writing, man, most of my writing occurs when I'm in the car driving through the streets of LA.

Alex Ferrari 50:56
If Amen, amen. Amen. I mean, that's

John Bucher 50:59
my writing happens, when I get to a keyboard, it's just a matter of getting to put it on the page. But the writing actually hurt occurs when I'm out on the 405, you know, driving to the next thing I have to do, and learning to value that learning to say, you know, what, this is valuable time. And even if I have to let this go later, there's nutrients I've taken from this process that have made me a more healthy writer, and my entire ecosystem has been scraped. And because of the work I did on this project, it's a much better way to live man than feeling like you're just failing all the time.

Alex Ferrari 51:38
Yeah. And if you can, you know, like, I'll use my, my career as an example, I've always I started off as an editor. And then when editing work started to slow down, I jumped into color grading, because I saw that there was less traffic there, or less competition. So they started color grading, like, well wait a minute, then I'll just also do post supervising because I essentially know how to do that anyway. And then I'm like, well, a VFX supervisor is just another step ahead of that. So I'll just do VFX supervising as well. And I'm also going to direct while I'm direct. So you're always finding something. So if I'm not working on one thing I'm working on another, it's diversification of your creative process where it is. So it's like putting all your eggs like when you're investing, you don't invest only on E toys. You know, you don't only invest in Sears stock, you know, because things are not gonna go well. You need to diversify your creative portfolio and by doing multiple different things, I'm a screenwriter, I'm a writer, I'm a novelist, I'm a blogger, I write articles, I do this, you're constantly working, and you're also constantly strengthening all of those muscles. Would you agree? Man, Alex, you nailed it,

John Bucher 52:48
you nailed it. That's exactly what, in my opinion, finding success in this business. That is the key. You know, it is about trying to diversify, to have a healthy ecosystem of work that is going on, that's really the key to success for me. And does that mean you're going to, you know, be hired to direct the next Marvel movie or whatever, maybe that'll become part of your ecosystem, and maybe it won't. But the thing is, if that's your only goal that you're trying to hit, is, I just want to be able to direct a Marvel movie. That's such a thin line and a thin goal line. Um, you know, you're not setting yourself up for success, you know, so to me, that that's sort of the beauty in, you know, people like yourself, who are able to be these humans, Swiss Army knives, right? That it's like, hey, whatever you need done, I can step in, and I can do it. I'm somebody who gets things done. In some ways. To me, Alex, that builds the sort of psychology that's necessary for successful success in the entertainment industry is being somebody who embodies the Swiss Army knife and says, You know what, whatever they need done, I can do it, and I can do it. Well, I'm going to step in, and I'm going to learn that craft in order to bring some success to that. That's the psychology that the that's going to get you places in this industry.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
Would you agree that the olden or not the old and the legacy way of doing things in this industry have been like the movie industry did not change for 80 to 100 years? It was pretty much that was it? It did not it did not move. I mean, from the technology of how movies were made sure a little things here and there, but it was filmed and it went through the process and, and writing you were screenwriter, and that's it. So that focus of all i can only be a screenwriter, as a writer in the business. That was it. In today's world, things are changing so dramatically. That you know, and jobs are being just gone. Like you know, it's like you know, for lack of a better word like imma call minor and all of a sudden, that's all I've done all my life and all I know is coal mining. And guess what the mines closed now? Because for whatever reason it's done. Yeah. And now they're like, well, I don't have any, I don't know how to do anything else. That is the old way of thinking, we're in the new economy in the new entertainment industry, you need to be a jack of all trades specialization is is your risking when you do specialization. Because, you know, in the world that we're living, and things are changing so rapidly, that all of a sudden, like, Oh, you know, what we don't need to rector's anymore AI is taking care of that for us. But we also do need this, I don't think that's gonna happen. But unless James Cameron creates it, but but but it happens all the time. And I saw it in I came up with like I said, as an editor, when I came up, there weren't a lot of editors and editing systems used to cost, you know, 100,000 $150,000, to edit on nonlinear editing systems. Before that, it was a million dollars to have an editing suite. And then all of a sudden, Final Cut came out. And now everyone's an editor. So now the competition came in. So then I jumped into color grading, because color grading was still a little bit higher up, and not everybody could do that. And then, but you kind of kind of always jump all over the place. If you don't do that you're done. That's it.

John Bucher 56:17
That's it. And I mean, that's it. We would love to romanticize this idea, you know, that we can just stay committed to this one thing. And I do think it's good to have something that is really your focus and a goal that you're trying to get to. I'm all for that. Not saying don't do that. But what I am saying is, if you want long term success in this business, you've got to adapt that sort of adaptability. It's just like, you know, the industry is is changed. We don't think about the way that the industry has changed throughout history. For example, it used to be when you went to the movie theater, there was a man that was a woman that was paid to set up and in Oregon at the front in play music that accompanied what you were seeing on the screen. Right. And you know what, overnight, that job disappeared

Alex Ferrari 57:13
on, it was gone. And if that's all you've done, if that's all you've done for 30 years, you're you're done.

John Bucher 57:19
That's right, that's you, you're done. And so often, entire careers are gone overnight, because that that was you know, no longer needed. And that's the age we live in. I mean, think about it, you know, when you and I were young, if we wanted to,

Alex Ferrari 57:35
sir, I'm still young sir. I

John Bucher 57:37
don't know. I'm sorry. Yes. For myself.

Alex Ferrari 57:42
I am 2525. My daughter's have done this to me.

Unknown Speaker 57:45
Oh, I totally get it. I totally get it. I I myself have been 29 for a number of years now. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 57:54
You were saying sir? Yes, but

Unknown Speaker 57:56
it used to be if you were I wanted to go to Florida, we would call a travel agent and get them to book us a ticket to go to Florida. That's right. That overnight that entire industry disappeared, right? Because we didn't need it anymore. So if you want to be someone that you know, is putting all your eggs in one basket, you do risk this idea that you know what I my career may be completely irrelevant, overnight someday. But I think that's why those of us I love that you know your your brand, your pod cast, you know, indie film, hustle, because I think most of us recognize that one of the big keys to success here is to have a hustle to have to be hustlers. That's why I have a lot of friends that write all day. And then at two in the afternoon, they go out and they drive Uber for four hours. And then they go do doordash for four hours. And the gig economy necessary. It makes it a necessity that we have to be willing to be diverse in how we approach getting our art out into the world. Without question and every single time I walk into an Uber I sit down an Uber, the first words out of my mouth is how's the script? And

Alex Ferrari 59:14
cuz I live in LA. So about seven out of 10 times ago.

How did you know?

I don't mean I'm not making fun of that. You know what, I'm just Riven. But but it's but it's the thing. And if it's not if it's not a screenwriter, it's an actor. And if it's not an actor, it's a director, if not a singer. I was in a movie the other day. They played me their demo. Yeah, their demo was being played for me in there in there. I'm like, and they're like, Can you give me options? I'm like opinions. I'm like, do you want the truth? And because I'm never gonna see you again. So if you want the truth, I'll tell you the truth. And I did and you could see that they're just like, I'm like, definitely need more production. You need more this this is like, you know, all of a sudden I'm I'm an American Idol judge. But this is but this is the world that we live in. Right now and it is it is. It's tough. But I think that Swiss Army Knife analogy is exactly what we all need to be especially just on the writing standpoint, there is hundreds of different things you can do as writers, I know, professional screenwriters who who have jumped into Novel Writing, because they keep 100% control of their story. And they don't have to deal with all the crap that goes along with trying to produce a feature film. And I want to touch on real quick virtual reality, because that is something that you wrote a big book on, it was very popular. Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about the possibilities for writers in virtual reality and where that whole industry is gonna go?

John Bucher 1:00:37
Yeah, well, I'm glad you bring it up. Because it really is a big part of my ecosystem. Right now. It's a new stream that's come in. And I i've always sort of been interested in technology ever been arrested and cameras and post production. It various times, when virtual reality first started to rise into prominence, this most recent time, I recognized that, that the language that we could tell stories with with this medium was really going to be different than anything we had had experienced before. Part of that is because for the last 100 120 years, we've been using the edges of a frame. To tell an audience, here's what's important, here's what is not important. If it's outside the edges of the frame, don't worry about it, I will tell you as the storyteller what to pay attention to by centering it up somewhere near the center of the frame, I will show you what it is that I want you to see. With virtual reality. We've removed the edges of the frame. And we have put the audience in the role of the protagonist. But I would suggest to you that no technology has really taken off and succeeded on a mass level, until we figured out how to tell a story with it. film cameras, Thomas Edison, when he first developed the film camera only use them for scientific purposes, he predicted the failure of using a film camera to tell stories with now he was greatly wrong about that. But once we figured out how to tell stories with cameras, that technology takes off, television takes off once we really figure out how to tell stories with it. Radio takes off, when we figure out how to tell stories with it. Even I would dare say the internet really took off. Once we figured out how to share our stories with it. My mother has become a Facebook expert. And it's only because she wants to be able to share her stories and experience the stories of her grandchildren. Right. So I am convinced that we haven't yet figured out how to tell good stories with virtual reality. It's sort of what the book that I wrote is about. But I'm convinced that the ability to give the audience agency within a story is something that's not going to go away. This is a whole different medium, outside of video games outside of film. And just like with those mediums, it took us time to develop a cinematic language, it's going to take some time with virtual reality to develop a cinematic language. This gives an opportunity for writers however, to help craft this new storytelling medium in a way that's never been done before. There is a lot of money in tech that is being invested into trying to tell successful stories and virtual reality. So I would highly recommend that any writer who's looking to sort of expand their ecosystem start looking into VR is a medium to write for, because a lot of what you know about story will apply in this new medium. Even as you figure out how to expand your storytelling abilities in a new cinematic language. would you would you agree with the statement that that box that you were talking about that

Alex Ferrari 1:03:59
we've been trained and most humans have been trained to look at? Even back in the Greek stage? Like it was? Whatever was on the stage? Basically, yes.

When you complete when that box is now gone? Is it a little overwhelming? Because I feel it's extremely overwhelming when I sit down with VR, and I'm just like, oh my god, it's just so much input. And I'm like, where do I go? It's like, I'm not trained for it. And even, you know, I mean, maybe the generation coming up because they play video games in a kind of VR world where everything is all over the place. But at least for our generation and generations before, but even then that's a video game playing. That's not storytelling, storytelling is still I gotta have storytelling needs a storyteller. And that storyteller is the one who's going to tell you the story. When it's so wide open, there is no back to the very beginning of this conversation. There is no structure. It doesn't seem like it. Do you agree and tell me what you think?

John Bucher 1:04:59
Well, I think it's more more nuanced than that. And here's why. If you look back to the history of film, when film first began to be displayed in these big Motion Picture houses, there's a very famous old film clip of a cowboy pointing a gun directly at the screen and pulling the trigger. And it's a very famous story, audiences jumping up and running out of the theaters, because they felt exactly the way that you feel about virtual reality. They felt like, Oh, it's too overwhelming. It's too much information. It's too

Alex Ferrari 1:05:34
real. It's like when the train was coming in for the first time, people thought the train was going to run them over.

John Bucher 1:05:38
Right, exactly. So in some sense, it is because we're an audience, you and I have grown up with this, this 2d medium that we're not allowed much agency in. And so for us, it does feel overwhelming. However, I think as as younger audiences that have been immersed in the sort of video game storytelling that a lot of older people find very overwhelming. I think it's something that younger audiences are going to grow into. However, let me say this is well, I think this is back where my narrative shards idea comes into play, that you don't necessarily have to have a three act structure in a VR experience, you may use elements that we know about character, or elements that we know about symbolism, or elements that we know about environmental storytelling in order to communicate a story where the audience is the protagonist. So again, I do I think we've got it all figured out. No, but I think it also took us some time to figure out how to do it. With cinema. We didn't get that right for a number of years and think about how long it took the earliest, you know, movie bridges horse of running, before we got to the point where we have, you know, Marvel in game. I mean, that is a long, long way to go with storytelling. So I think we've got a long way to go. But I'm confident once we get rid of those big block headsets that people have to put on their heads. We probably won't even call it virtual reality anymore. But I think people are interested in being immersed in a story in ways that they never have been before. So I think it's clunky. I think we're not quite there with it. But the writers who figure out how to tell an immersive story now, in the same ways that immersive theater theme parks escape rooms have been succeeding with for a number of years. I think those storytellers will be at the forefront of this future of storytelling that we were just figuring out how to were babies. We're just figuring out how to stand right now. But one day we'll grow into it, we'll be able to walk we'll be able to run and we'll be able to really experience something like we've never experienced before. I believe

Alex Ferrari 1:08:04
so. Yeah, so it's gonna get better than Lawnmower Man is what you're telling me. It's gonna get a little bit better than that.

John Bucher 1:08:10
Nothing gets better than lawn mower man that is that.

That's a classic. I

love it.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:16
I was I was in the video store working when that came out. And when that came out, your mind was like, What is this visual effects? Oh, my god like it just so good. Like Jeff Fay he Pierce Brosnan. What's going Oh, God. Sorry. So I want to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter or storyteller trying to break into the business today?

John Bucher 1:08:47
I would, I would say that it's important you recognize that this game is a marathon and not a sprint, you've really got to be in for the long haul. And when you finally get your opportunity, and I feel like Hollywood, in the entertainment business is this super long line of people and you wait your turn to get up to the front of the line. And if you've done all your work to perfect your craft, by the time you get up to the front of the line and get your shot. I really believe you'll make it. However, if you've wasted that time, you know and you didn't perfect your craft. By the time you get up to the front of the line and get your shot, then yeah, you probably won't make it. So I think approaching everything you do as being a preparation for when you get your big shot I think is very important. In the final thing I'll say on that is this Alex, every other art form. Artists are very comfortable with practicing their art form. So people that are learning to draw or paint they practice they sketch musicians they practice This right? For whatever reason, filmmakers and storytellers feel like every little thing we ever do needs to be put up on YouTube for public consumption, it needs to have a grand premiere, we need to have a big party around it. And we're sort of immature in that way. I look at the vast majority of the writing. And the the the films that I've done has been practice for something that I do want to share with the public. So I would say mature, prepared and mature yourself to a place where you don't need to take every single piece of work you do, and put it up for public consumption is a you know celebration of your art, but practice and use your art form to practice in a way that when you really do have something you want to share. It is strategically put in front of an audience, instead of just taking every little thing you crap out and put it on YouTube or Vimeo for everybody to see. So that's the biggest advice I could give storytellers right now.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:04
And some of the best screenwriters I know I always ask the question, like how many scripts that you write before you sold one, and a lot of times it's 810 1520. Because they just that's a professional profession, a professional will do that. And then the professional will not write and spend five years on one screenplay. That's just not a professional will do. That's right. You have to just get out of work. You got to, I think it was, I think it was the the, the the legend at Sheridan, who said, Who said this? And I thought it was a wonderful analogy, when he starts right, because I asked him, How do you write songs? He's an amazing songwriter. And he and they, how do you when you write like this, you know, it's kind of like turning on, you walk into an old house, and you go into the bathroom and you turn on the tub. And you open you open up the the faucet and the tub and all you get a sludge, and you just got all that sludge has to come out and come out and come out till eventually, it starts clearing up clearing up and then you get crystal clear water, but you've got to go through the sludge thick.

John Bucher 1:12:05
That's it, man, you got to get all the bad writing out before any good writing is gonna come through. Amen. Now, can

Alex Ferrari 1:12:11
you tell me the book that had the biggest impact on your life or career?

John Bucher 1:12:15
Yeah, I would definitely say it's Joseph Campbell, the hero with 1000 faces. But let me also recommend one other book that's a little more modern. And it's a book of fiction. For writers and storytellers. This, this, I think, is just a really great example of really simple but powerful storytelling. It's it's a book by a guy named David shitler. And it's called kissing in Manhattan. And it's a collection of short stories, an anthology that all the short stories end up weaving together. David shitler, probably most known, he sold an idea to Cinemax for a series called Banshee. And I thought Banshee was a great series. But David scheckler, created and wrote that, but he had a book of short stories called kissing in Manhattan. And I always love to recommend that to writers and storytellers is just an example of really creative but simple characters in stories that really are powerful.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:16
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? Wow,

John Bucher 1:13:22
I, I feel like I could do a whole nother podcast just talking about the lessons that I've learned. But I think the biggest lesson that I've learned is this, trying to chase what I, you know, think is popular, or what other people like, as far as stories go. That is, is the dog chasing its tail. And I've really learned the weird little things that I nerd out about. And geek out about those passions are the things that I should be telling stories about. And those are the things that bring the juice of life to me. And I've learned to to really not be ashamed of the weird little things I'm interested in, and that I spend a lot of time in. So I'll give you a brief example. I am really fascinated by this, this place called Hubert's dime museum. And it was the last dime Museum in the United States. It closed down in 1969. It was in Times Square in New York. And it was this this really just weird place. And I have read everything I could possibly read about it. And I have found every picture I go on eBay all the time and buy things that were held there in the museum and what does that have to do with my work? Nothing, but it's something that I can geek out about and that I can get deep into and that nobody else in the world likes but me Me, but it brings so much joy to me to have that and to not be ashamed of that or not feel like you know that that's a waste of my time. So find those little things in life that bring you the most juice, and that bring you the most meaning and the most joy, and make time for those things in your life. Because the rest of this stuff is great, but it comes and goes, and you need those little things that are just yours.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:33
Now, what fear did you have to break through to get to where you are today?

John Bucher 1:15:40
You know, I think, again, I could do a whole nother podcast of all the fears that I've had. But the two biggest fears that I've had are one imposter syndrome. I still to this day, and I've published five books on storytelling. In every time I get up on a podcast or get on a stage or submit a script, I still have this idea in the back of my head that it's like today's the day they're gonna figure you out that you don't know what you're doing.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:10
Oh, you me but you me both brother. Yeah,

John Bucher 1:16:12
I mean, seriously, it's like that imposter syndrome. I don't care how much success you have. And I've sat down with some of the biggest names in the business. And they've told me they still have that. So I don't think it ever goes away. But that and then the fear of what will other people think what other people think I'm not good? Well, other people think I'm stupid or that my ideas are dumb. that those are the two big fears for me is that imposter syndrome. And then the fear of that everybody else knows what good is except for me.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:49
Yeah, that's that's definitely that's definitely two big ones. You gotta come over come across him. You've done very well, you bet. Well, you don't you don't show it, sir. You don't show I try.

John Bucher 1:16:58
I tries I struggle with them all the time. But those are the fears. I would say that I'm learning to battle and learning to overcome.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:07
Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

John Bucher 1:17:11
Yeah, man, that's a that's an easy one. Because I've thought long and hard about this on many occasions, okay. Number Number three, for me is Raiders of the Lost Ark, I will forever be a result of that film. It inspired much of my interest in mythology that I went to pursue a Ph. D around. Just last night, I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I just love going into that world man. It is a big number three for me. Number two is The Empire Strikes Back. That film showed me that a dark story still could be full of hope and could be a story that state that stories can stay with you for life, that that story has just never left me. And then number one is probably a lesser known film that a lot of people may not have seen. It's an old Orson Welles film called The third man. And the third man is it's one of my favorite films. It's a dark noir film. And it's about a man that fakes his own death. And the the person who discovers this and tracks him down. And there's just something about that film that I can't fully articulate or put into words, that really speaks to me. And I love going back to watch the third man every chance I get.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:37
Awesome. Now, where can people find you and more about your work? Yeah,

John Bucher 1:18:42
the two big places one, please visit my website. It's telling a better story.com you can see a lot of my work there read more about me get to all my social media channels. The other place I'm really active is on Twitter. And it's at john Jay Oh, ah n k, b u ch er. So it's my name with my middle initial. And I'm really active on Twitter, and really enjoy connecting with people there. So I look forward to seeing people on Twitter, or really any of the social media handles that you can find it my website telling a better story calm, john, man,

Alex Ferrari 1:19:20
it has been an absolute pleasure. I know we can sit here and talk for at least another hour or two, without question about just on the Avengers in DC alone. But it's been it's been an absolute honor having you and a pleasure speaking to you on the show, and you've dropped some amazing knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So I do truly appreciate it. Brother, thank you so much. Thank you, john, for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs. I really really had a great time talking to john and getting into the alchemy of storytelling with him. And again, if you want to get links to anything we talked about in this episode, please head over to indie film hustle.com Ford slash bps 050 for the show notes and don't forget to listen to Jon's bonus episode on how to write and shoot a sex scene on indie film hustle podcast at indie film hustle.com forward slash 334. And if you haven't already, head over to screenwriting podcast.com Subscribe to the show. Leave us a good review. It really helps to show out a lot. Thank you. So so, so much. And that is the end of Episode 50 of the bulletproof screenwriting podcast. Thank you again. So, so much for all the support guys. As always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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