Documenting the Hero's Journey
Now that my day job is directing a docuseries about a large organization going through a serious practical and cultural transformation, I get to hear a lot about change, human habits, meaningful work, and the ripple effects of organizations on our communities. I was shooting an interview recently for this docuseries and it struck me that at the heart of what I am trying to capture as filmmaker is the way in which an organization and its individual members, from the CEO to the janitor, engage in the hero's journey. But wait, what's the hero's journey? Why tell you about when I can show you?
Sure, I'm not shooting a documentary about a hobbit trying to destroy a ring of power. It can be easy for us to dismiss the notion of a hero's journey in our daily lives because we don't have magical powers, or the choices we make don't have world-ending implications, or we aren't aren't battling man-eating sharks or dinosaurs. But I believe stories are a compressed and tiny version of life as a whole. For more on that, check out this blog post of mine. In the process of experiencing stories as a microcosm of existence our brains are actually hard a work pulling in and highlighting information that might prove useful in our own quest for survival. Yep, I have written about that as well.
So, yes, I do see the hero's journey playing out in both small and big ways as I work day after day to capture and tell the story of the choices being made by individuals who a part of an organization seeking to step away from the status quo, into the special world, and come back transformed. This is why I feel lucky to get to do the work I'm doing. It's why I love storytelling, be it making a documentary or writing a cyberpunk novel like Sleepwalker. At the core of any story is the human journey of discovery, grown, and realization.