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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Buggs

276 - How to Get To The Core Of The Message - (Industry Insights)

This and all other episodes of the MAKE IT podcast are brought to you in partnership with Women in Film and Television as part of the Voice of the Filmmaker Program. Please help us keep the conversation going.

In this edition of Industry Insights, Nick expounds upon the sentiments of Director Nick Frangione about getting to the core of the message in your film.

"The biggest creative mistake that I see people make is I feel like they don't get to the core of what they're trying to say."

- Nick Frangione, Director (Buck Run)


About Nick Frangione

In 2021, Freestyle Digital Media acquired Nick Frangione's Buck Run (James Le Gros, Kevin J. O'Connor, Amy Hargreaves, Alicia Goranson, Jim Parrack, Angus Macfadyen, and starring Nolan Lyons) for release on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Movies, Cable, and Satellite On Demand. The atmospheric and delicate drama premiered Opening Weekend at Palm Springs International Film Festival and toured the festival circuit. Buck Run won Best Feature at Flickers Rhode Island International and Fayetteville Film Festival; Best International Feature at Nordic International Film Festival and Santorini Film Festival; Best Actor for lead Nolan Lyons at Breckenridge Film Festival; and the Orson Welles Award for Achievement in Directing at Tiburon International Film Festival.

Critics have called the film "Evocative," "Timelessly Melancholy" (Dennis Harvey, Variety). "Beautifully acted. Very well shot." (Ray Greene, LA Critics Association). "A masterly done meditation on America's working-class dilemma, broken fatherhood, abandonment, and acceptance" (Brazilian Press).

Before Buck Run, Frangione directed Roxie. Tommy Cook of said of the film, "Roxie, at its heart, is a tragedy about lives spent reliving the past, an unmasking of the harsh realities of time and aging, on the need for a real connection and how any false one inherently corrupts and leaves you bare. It's a testament to zero-budget filmmaking and how even the smallest of films can possess the greatest of ambitions. It was, by far, the best film I saw during my stay at Sonoma (International Film Festival)"


Listener Reflections

  • Watch one of your favorite films and identify the use of metaphor and/or symbolism. Does the film use metaphor or symbolism to tell the story or to give the story deeper, more existential meaning?


Actionable Advice

Getting to the core of what you are trying to say means removing the noise from your communication. The concept of noise in communication dates back to information theory in the 1940s. 'Noise' refers to any factor that reduces the chances of successful communication but does not guarantee failure of that communication. There are four types of noise:

  • Physiological noise: Distraction caused by hunger, fatigue, thirst, or any other factor that affects how we feel physically.

  • Physical noise: Interference in our environment such as noises, extreme temperatures, or physical disturbances.

  • Psychological noise: Qualities within us (such as prejudice or defensiveness) that affect how we communicate with or interpret others.

  • Semantic noise: The noise that exists when the words being spoken are not mutually understood as a result or jargon or unnecessarily technical language.

For filmmakers, the issue is often one of semantic noise. In this case, the message is being lost in unnecessarily nuanced language delivered with an expectation for the audience to use artistic interpretation to decipher the message. The truth is: audiences don’t want to be left guessing because guessing implies uncertainty and uncertainty introduces noise. The more noise that's introduced, the less connected your audience becomes to the core of what you're trying to say.

To avoid introducing noise, consider removing anything that uses metaphor or symbolism to communicate the core message. Though it's ok to use such things to emphasize the message, they should not be used to deliver it. Another way to eliminate the noise is to avoid playing with time. Memory and dream sequences that cut into the current timeline without warning cause the storyline to be fragmented. Though the pieces may all fit together when you look back at the story, you replace emotional engagement with your audience with an intellectual exercise that makes them think when you want them to feel. This doesn’t mean that you can't have those memory and dream sequences; it just means that you should be deliberate about how you move your audience into them as an extension of the experience within the current reality.

The main thing to remember here is that your voice should remain clear and concise throughout your storytelling. Don't get in your own way by trying to be too clever or by expecting too much of your audience. If they don't get it, it's not their fault; it's yours.


About Nick

Nicholas Buggs is a filmmaker, advisor, content creator, author, and advocate of the filmmaking community. As co-host of the MAKE IT podcast and co-founder of Bonsai Creative, Nick works alongside his co-host and co-founder Christopher Barkley to produce multi-media educational and inspirational content. Nick is a firm believer in harnessing the collective power of the community to give each of its members a better chance at success.


This and all other episodes of the MAKE IT podcast are brought to you in partnership with Women in Film and Television as part of the Voice of the Filmmaker Program. Please help us keep the conversation going.


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