Strange bedfellows : science and storytelling for broadcast television

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


Filmmakers exploring natural science subject matter that want to sell their work to broadcast television or theatrical outlets face a difficult challenge. They must somehow conflate two contradictory elements: natural science information and compelling storytelling. Looking at the roots of classical narrative, we can better understand why audiences have come to crave it. Broadcast television, in turn, caters to audience desire. This combination forces filmmakers to present natural science information in an exciting way, and has led filmmakers to employ time-honored narrative structures as organizing strategies. While audiences seem to favor material presented this way, it calls the accuracy of the natural science presented into question. This paper will explore how and why the use of narrative became common to natural science filmmaking, illustrate the inherent incompatibilities between the narrative and natural science, and consider the repercussions of this filmmaking model.


Return of the condor is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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