Thank you very much for considering me to promote this wonderful and necessary book.
By reaching out to Jonathan’s built in audience of readers —which he has fostered over years of publicly speaking and sharing his personal insight on ‘how to thrive outside the lines’— this video may very well extend beyond the confines of a traditional book promotion, and serve as a call-to-action; an invitation to be part of a larger social movement that continues to gain traction and momentum.
As someone raised by parents struggling with mental health difficulties and substance abuse, and who has wrestled with similar challenges myself, this book has struck a personal chord.
What follows is a series of creative ice-breakers to help us —author and filmmaker— agree on clear artistic treatment that will propel us forward.
In my commercial work, my storytelling strengths come alive once the core of what is to be communicated is clearly defined (or as close as possible). Although we are not quite at that stage yet, I’d like to describe the tone for one main creative avenue, which can be informed by additional visual layers.
An emotionally driven monologue would serve as the spine supporting the narrative of the story (as in Serena William’s spot). This soliloquy will be either written for this piece specifically or it can be lifted from a section —or sections— of “Normal Sucks.”The idea is to represent it visually through a vertiginous montage of archival footage that does both, support the spoken work and act in counterpoint to it.
We could also explore the idea of adding a second visual layer comprising of one or two of Jonathan’s memories, illustrated with animation, childhood photos, home videos, miniature models or footage from Jonathan’s book tour for “The Short Bus.”
As the author, Jonathan would read the story’s unique monologue or passage excerpt from “Normal Sucks.” We could also feature fast cutaways of his voice-over extracted from Jonathan’s public speaking archives.
A visual reference that was discussed was Serena William’s Nike spot. Unquestionably, Serena’s spot is powerful and emotional.
The main challenge we face with this approach is the acquisition of archival licenses for promotional purposes.
Hence, to accurately determine the feasibility of this particular treatment it is imperative to have a script. We must know what the written/spoken word is in order to determine which assets we intend to seek out for clearance.
Tone, Pacing & Mission Statement
My personal impression with “Normal Sucks” is that it read like a page-turner, hands down. For this, I am driven to create a video that is dynamic and quick tempo-ed.
Jonathan’s writing style triggered in me the vision of a fast-paced montage of visuals exposing the successive truths explored in his book.
For example, we could listen to Jonathan’s thoughts —voice over— progressively revealing the importance and necessity of a world that celebrates differences over sameness. These thoughts would grow rapidly and lead to a crescendo of ideas that climax (clash) into a cliffhanger question or land on a thought-provoking call-to-action statement:
Live your Different / Share your Different / Never the Same, etc (TBD).
#LiveYourDifferent / #ShareYourDifferent / #NeverTheSame
To illustrate the above storytelling tone I’ve included the intro scene for Molly’s Game film, where a combination of humor, irony and quirky research is chopped together with archival footage (fake and real) revealing Molly’s backstory while serving as a preview window into the movie we are about to watch…..(in our case, a sneak-peak into the book we’re about to read).
Intro to story Monologue
There are several scenes in the book that play as pivotal moments in Jonathan’s life and his personal awakening. For instance, the scene at the Manhattan Beach café where Jonathan’s mom is pissed off and reads her son’s report card out loud as they both learn together about Jonathan’s “disabilities.”
As a lead-in to Jonathan’s monologue a scene like this could open our spot in form of animation, etc.
As described above, we would then cut to a series of visual juxtapositions (archival footage, illustrations, etc.) exposing attention-grabbing ideas of Jonathan’s research and backstory until eventually reaching the monologue’s maximum charge.
Another example could be the scene with the child named Jack who is kept “in a box” in the back of the classroom. This anecdote is a powerful story within itself. As is the scene with “Elliot”. I even found the Ice-Ice Baby scene magnificent and illuminating on Jonathan’s vulnerability.
Both, colorful and poignant all these moments could be depicted through beautiful watercolor animations, collages, miniature dioramas and more.
Memories Illustrated Through Miniature Models
Miniature models have a powerful dreamlike effect and they can be utilized to bring one of Jonathan’s memories (or comments) to life. They can also be presented to underline the notion of “average” and “sameness” through didactic dioramas.
Social Engagement Campaigns by Pascui Rivas
I wanted to share a ‘stunt’ documentary I directed for UNICEF. The “Tap Project” invites individuals to donate $1 or more to provide clean water to children around the world.
In the US many of us are oblivious to the basic struggles experienced in other countries. For this, we created a stereotypical ‘poor child’ as a shocking eye-opener and brought the issue closer to home.
This ‘stunt-doc’ received many awards, including a Gold Medal at the NY Festivals Advertising Awards.
Featuring international singers Natalia Lafourcade, Goyo and El Dasa I directed this WEBBY Award Winning video to promote Toyota’s RAV4 as part of a collective Snapchat experience.
Budget / $5K
Upon receiving the first drafts of the written monologue we will begin to determine the best approach (the strongest visuals, etc.) to make Jonathan’s words come alive and reach audiences in the most compelling way.
Roughly speaking, our financial resources will be allocated into three main categories:
1/. Pre-Production ($1,000)
Research of desired footage / creative development of video / Animation Storyboarding, etc.
2/. Production ($2,000)
Footage licensing / Voice Over Audio Recording / Scale model building / Animation, etc.
3/. Post Production ($2,000)
Video editing / VFX compositing / Audio Mix / Color Correction / Exporting final deliverables, etc.
I am thankful for having read this book. I can honestly say it has already challenged notions about myself, my parenting and how I view my children.
Would love to know your thoughts!