Thank you very much for considering me to promote this wonderful and necessary book.
Through 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’ my feeling is that 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 is gaining traction and momentum.
As someone who has been 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 quiete at that stage yet, I was thinking of three main creative avenues:
One in which a monologue serves as the spine of the narrative (as in Serena William’s spot). This soliloquy can be either written for this piece specifically, or it can be lifted from a section or sections of the “Normal Sucks.”
Another approach would be to select one of Jonathan’s memories, which we would illustrate creating the feel of a “sneak peak” into the book.
A third would feature Jonathan in a more formal sit down interview, eliciting visuals based on his testimonies (see bellow Set the Page Free campaign by Xerox).
1./ Monologue as Spine
As the author, Jonathan would read the story’s unique monologue or passage excerpt from “Normal Sucks.” Alternatively, his voice over could be a compendium of fragments from Jonathan’s public speaking on the “Normal Sucks” tour.
A visual reference that was discussed was Serena William’s Nike spot. Unquestionably, Serena’s spot is powerful and emotional.
The main challenge I foresee with this approach is the acquisition of archival licenses for promotional purposes.
To determine the feasibility of this treatment it is imperative to establish with precision which excerpt from “Normal Sucks” (if any) will be illustrated with images, as well as a clear notion of the archival footage to be sought.
Tone & Pacing / Mission Statement
To me “Normal Sucks” was a page-turner, hands down. For this, I am inclined to create a video that is dynamic and quick tempo-ed.(However, the sit-down interview references in option 3 are perhaps more quiet and meditative, but work very well).
Jonathan’s writing style triggered in me the vision of a fast-paced montage of visuals exposing the successive truths explored in the book. We could listen to Jonathan’s thoughts —voice over— progressively revealing the importance and necessity of a world that celebrates differences over sameness (tbd). 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:
Live your Different / Share your Different / Not the Same, etc.
#LiveYourDifferent / #ShareYourDifferent / #NotTheSame
To illustrate the above storytelling tone I’ve included in the intro scene of Molly’s Game, 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 window into the movie we are about to watch…..(in our case, the book we’re about to read).
Intro/Outro to story Monologue
There are several scenes in the book that play as pivotal moments in Jonathan’s life and his personal awakening. One of them is the scene at the Manhattan Beach café where his mom is pissed off while reading from Jonathan’s report card out loud, learning about her son’s “disabilities.”
As an intro to the story (monologue) this café scene could open our spot. We would then cut to a series of visual juxtapositions (archival footage, illustrations, etc.) exposing attention grabbing ideas of Jonathan’s research and backstory. —As the spot reaches its maximum charge we cut back to the Manhattan Beach café, where the child (or perhaps Jonathan as an adult) say something that makes the audience aware that his personal story was not defined by that report card; inviting us to explore how the rest of the story unfolds.
2./ Scenes As Standalone Memories (Sneak Peak)
Certain passages in the book work perfectly as autonomous, standalone pieces and have a very striking affect on the reader.
For example, the child named Jack who is kept “in a box” in the back of the room is a powerful story within itself. The same with Elliot. Personally, I found the Ice-Ice Baby scene magnificent and illuminating on Jonathan’s vulnerability.
Any of these scenes could be narrated by Jonathan and illustrated through beautiful watercolor animations, collages, miniature dioramas, etc.
Example of a Memory illustrated with Watercolor Animation.
Memories Illustrated Through Miniature Models
Miniature models have a powerful dreamlike effect and they can be utilized to bring one of Jonathan’s memories back to life, or to underline the notion of “average” and “sameness” through didactic dioramas.
3./ Author Interview
This approach could be more intimate, as the author would speak to us face to face. Jonathan could provide insight on why this book was necessary for him, and that it is actually a letter to his children. He could even speak straight into the lens.
Below is a campaign sponsored by Xerox “Set the Page Free.” Although limitations in resources are apparent they’ve resolved each promo video for each author with a modern feel and lighthearted humor.
UNICEF “Kid” by Pascui
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.
Once we agree on a certain direction we will be able to commit and explore in depth whichever creative approach we choose (hopefully from those I’ve included here).
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!