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Bambi? You are kidding me!
People have asked, “Are you serious about these methods of producing effective business communication or any other sort? What is the point you are making in this post for instance?”
OK. Of course it looks a little un-orthodox (at first glance perhaps, but this is not GLANCE material) to advocate using a book from 19th Century novelist Charles Dickens or the “sideways thinking” approach of graphic designer Alan Fletcher to boost creativity.
The fact is that I am sharing techniques with you that I know many creative business communicators around the world are using right now. They produce killer copy that way, every day. Sometimes it has become so automatic for them that they no longer realize what they are doing: they think their ideas flowed like water. Well, I don’t ever think that. This approach is one of many that are around, to stir you out of old habits for a minute or two. It helps you to construct a map that fits the new territory of your own communication-task-of-the-day.
Try it, see if it fits. Even if doesn’t shake something loose in your head, at least the change of perspective will jolt your creativity that day more than somewhat. It could become addictive, as it has for me.
So, how can Bambi help business communicators of today?
Simply put: Walt Disney’s team of “creative” devised an opening panning-shot of three minutes for the famous “Bambi” animated movie in 1942. It is a stunning model for how an important speech could open; a sales presentation might begin; a company announcement to shareholders might kick off; how your next product roll-out or your next ‘good news’ press release should flow: like a continuous panning shot from left to right of screen. And it was “only a cartoon”.
THE BACKGROUND – “BAMBI” OPENING SEQUENCE – FOR ORDINARY READING SPEED.
“Bambi”, the cartoon about the life of an antlered forest dweller; the Prince of The Forest, opened during World War II in 1942. Work had started way back in 1936 on the storyline based on a book by Felix Salten (Dunlap, New York) while “Snow White …” was still in production.
Notes from Disney’s production conferences for “Bambi” were preserved. They were recently brought to public view in a special Double DVD Set of Bambi from the corporation that flowed from those initial Disney blockbusters made sixty years ago.
Here is how it runs: “Say we open with the morning in the forest – maybe it could be something sort of mysterious. I like this atmosphere in the morning,” began Walt. “Taking time to get your audience in the mood – you have a mystery and you ask ‘What’s going on?’
“This could be effective if we have a multi-layer shot, that could be your opening pan and you move right up…” “Keep the background simple, not very graphic. At the end of the pan, we being a lighter mood … you come into a lighter patch somewhere, up to a tree in the multi-plane shot and make direct cut up to the Owl. He says nothing, just a little yawn, then to the Chipmunk. We introduce all the characters. “
How would your rough notes look for a presentation opening? Would they carry the audience from their own distractions and concerns into your story’s first incident in such a seamless manner? Would the fine details of your piece be painted into the flow that leads to your first main statement – your first big close-up of your central point? This opening scene rewards close scrutiny.
In the next post, I will give you two short examples of the technique of the “Bambi” opening – to consider: from John Berendt’s highly- successful amalgum of two arts: journalism and the novel, in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (1994) and Ron Powers, author of a recent biography of Mark Twain, who produced a fine piece of passionate journalistic and historical writing in “White Town Drowsing” (Penguin 1987). I have kept these two items as private sources of creative energy behind work as a writer, journalist and business communication consultant – since those books landed on my shelves.
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