Interview – UCLA Film School professor Howard Suber explains how you can be a better storyteller

Interview – UCLA Film School professor Howard Suber explains how you can be a better storyteller

by eric barker

Howard Suber is one of my mentors. He founded the graduate program I was in at UCLA and has taught literally thousands of students about the power of film and narrative structure.

From his bio at UCLA:

During his 40 years on the UCLA faculty, Howard Suber helped establish and also chaired the UCLA Film Archive, the Critical Studies and Ph.D. Programs, and the UCLA Producers Program. He is a former Associate Dean, recipient of UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and has been a consultant and expert witness to all the major film studios on copyright and creative control issues. He continues to teach Film Structure and Strategic Thinking.

He is the author of The Power of Film and Letters to Young Filmmakers: Creativity and Getting Your Films Made.

I spoke to him about how to be a better storyteller and how we can use narrative to improve our lives.

The full interview was over two hours long, so for brevity’s sake I’m only going to post heavily edited highlights here.

What Do All Great Stories Have In Common?


The word “but.” Which is to say inexperienced or poor storytellers structure their material with the words “and” or “then.” So “They did this, and then they did that, and then they did this, and then they did that,” which produces an episodic structure that doesn’t build on anything, and there’s no relationship between what came before and what came after. Read more of this post

Buffett is worried about Fed policy; “There are an awful lot of people who want to get out of a lot of assets if the Fed is going to tighten. Who knows how it will play out.”

Buffett is worried about Fed policy

By Chris Isidore @CNNMoneyInvest March 4, 2013: 9:09 AM ET


Investor Warren Buffett said his biggest worry about the Federal Reserve’s policy of buying assets is how the markets will react once the central bank starts selling its holdings.

In an appearance on CNBC Monday, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA,Fortune 500) pointed to the sell-off in stocks a couple of weeks ago after the Fed’s minutes suggested some members supported slowing asset purchases from their current pace. He said that was just a small preview of what could be extreme market reaction once the Fed actually does start selling the trillions in Treasuries and mortgages it now holds. The Fed is buying $45 billion of Treasuries and $40 billion of mortgages each month through a policy known as quantitative easing.

“All over the world everybody that manages money is waiting to catch the signal that the Fed is going to reverse course,” he said. “I think they’re on a hair trigger. There are an awful lot of people who want to get out of a lot of assets if the Fed is going to tighten. Who knows how it will play out.” Read more of this post

Gucci-Owner PPR Said to Consider Changing Its Name to Kering which is supposed to evoke the idea of caring and signal a new chapter in the company’s development

Gucci-Owner PPR Said to Consider Changing Its Name to Kering

PPR SA (PP), the French owner of Gucci and Puma, is considering changing its name to Kering to cap its transformation into a luxury and sporting-goods specialist, according to people with knowledge of the plan.

The re-branding of Paris-based PPR may be announced this month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. The name, which would be the company’s fifth since listing on the Paris stock exchange in 1988, is supposed to evoke the idea of caring and signal a new chapter in the company’s development, one of the people said. Read more of this post

Nurses Spar With Doctors as 30 Million Insured Seek Care

Nurses Spar With Doctors as 30 Million Insured Seek Care

Christy Blanco’s health clinic in El Paso, Texas, is sitting empty. Blanco, a nurse practitioner, says she has a waiting list of patients, all the necessary equipment, and a Ph.D. in nursing that gives her the training to start treating patients.

About 50 miles (80 kilometers) away in Las Cruces, New Mexico, dozens of nurse practitioners at clinics like Blanco’s are busy caring for patients with a range of diseases from diabetes to asthma to depression.

The only difference between the El Paso and Las Cruces facilities is that in Texas, nurse practitioners are required to have a doctor under contract to sign off on 10 percent of medical charts and spend 1 of 10 days at the clinic. In New Mexico, no doctor is needed.

“I just want to get started,” said Blanco, who has spent about two years seeking a doctor for her clinic geared for low- income women. “I’m trying to work for the poor. I’ve spent thousands of dollars of my own money. I have a waiting list of patients, and I have to tell them I can’t practice yet.”

Blanco is caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between doctors and nurses over who will provide basic primary care for the 30 million U.S. citizens expected to get health insurance under the 2010 health-care law.

Nurse practitioners say they can do their jobs just fine without doctors and they’re lobbying lawmakers to end restrictions in more than a dozen of the 34 states that require physician oversight. Despite the need for increased care, doctors are pushing back, fighting for restrictions with their own lobbying efforts as well as with lawsuits across the country, arguing that patients’ basic care is at risk. Read more of this post

Apple’s Planned ‘IWatch’ Could Be More Profitable Than TV

Apple’s Planned ‘IWatch’ Could Be More Profitable Than TV

While Tim Cook has dropped hints that Apple Inc. (AAPL) is hard at work on a television to drive the next era of growth, the company’s wristwatch-style device, still in development, may prove more profitable.

The global watch industry will generate more than $60 billion in sales in 2013, said Citigroup Inc. analyst Oliver Chen. While that’s smaller than the pool of revenue that comes from TVs, gross margins on watches are about 60 percent, he said. That’s four times bigger than for televisions, according to Anand Srinivasan, a Bloomberg Industries analyst.

Apple, with its iconic brand and lucrative retail network, is poised to tap into the growing watch industry. Headway in the business would help compensate for slowing growth in other areas, such as iPhones and iPods. Apple’s stock has slumped by more than a third since peaking in September on signs of accelerating competition led by Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and concern over how quickly Chief Executive Officer Cook is pushing into new products.

“This can be a $6 billion opportunity for Apple, with plenty of opportunity for upside if they create something totally new like they did with the iPod — something consumers didn’t even know they needed,” said Chen, who covers luxury- goods retailers.

The TV industry will generate $119 billion in sales this year, according to market-research firm IHS Electronics & Media. Using Chen’s margin estimates, a 10 percent share for Apple in each market would mean gross profit of $3.6 billion for watches, outstripping $1.79 billion for TVs. Read more of this post

Big-Bang Disruption; A new kind of innovator can wipe out incumbents in a flash

Big-Bang Disruption

by Larry Downes and Paul F. Nunes

By now any well-read executive knows the basic playbook for saving a business from disruptive innovation. Nearly two decades of management research, beginning with Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen’s 1995 HBR article, “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave,” have taught businesses to be on the lookout for upstarts that offer cheap substitutes to their products, capture new, low-end customers, and then gradually move upmarket to pick off higher-end customers, too. When these disrupters appear, we’ve learned, it’s time to act quickly—either acquiring them or incubating a competing business that embraces their new technology.

But the strategic model of disruptive innovation we’ve all become comfortable with has a blind spot. It assumes that disrupters start with a lower-priced, inferior alternative that chips away at the least profitable segments, giving an incumbent business time to start a skunkworks and develop its own next-generation products.

That advice hasn’t been much help to navigation-product makers like TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan. Free navigation apps, now preloaded on every smartphone, are not only cheaper but better than the stand-alone devices those companies sell. And thanks to the robust platform provided by the iOS and Android operating systems, navigation apps are constantly improving, with new versions distributed automatically through the cloud.

The disruption here hasn’t come from competitors in the same industry or even from companies with a remotely similar business model. Nor did the new technology enter at the bottom of a mature market and then follow a carefully planned march through larger customer segments. Users made the switch in a matter of weeks. And it wasn’t just the least profitable or “underserved” customers who were lured away. Consumers in every segment defected simultaneously—and in droves.

That kind of innovation changes the rules. We’re accustomed to seeing mature products wiped out by new technologies and to ever-shorter product life cycles. But now entire product lines—whole markets—are being created or destroyed overnight. Disrupters can come out of nowhere and instantly be everywhere. Once launched, such disruption is hard to fight.

We call these game changers “big-bang disrupters.” They don’t create dilemmas for innovators; they trigger disasters. Read more of this post

What does it take to turn around a Web company? A look inside the only two we’ve ever seen

What does it take to turn around a Web company? A look inside the only two we’ve ever seen


ON MARCH 1, 2013

Every time a has-been startup like MySpace or Digg or a big public company like Yahoo or AOL attempts a Web turnaround, the tech media is quick to remind them that Web turnarounds never work.

Technically, we can’t say that anymore. Two companies– Priceline and eBay– have quietly proven that truism wrong, at least from a financial point of view.

Are they anomalies or has it just taken this long to see a turnaround work?

We forget that as industries go, the Web is a young one. The first Web site appeared only 21 years ago. That’s enough time for countless Web startups to appear, for far fewer to succeed and for a subset of those successes to fall on hard times. But it’s hardly enough time to produce any successful case studies in corporate turnarounds. Read more of this post

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