Season 3: What can TV teach L&D?

The full third season of ‘What can TV teach L&D?’ is now available.

Tom, our Creative Director, uses his extensive experience in both drama and L&D to shine a light on what the best movies can teach us when designing drama for learning.

In this series, Tom takes a deep dive into four films, all classics in their own right:

  1. Jaws
  2. Rear Window
  3. The Shawshank Redemption
  4. Finding Nemo
  1. Jaws

Tom explores some filmmaking principles, demonstrated in Jaws, that we can utilise when making drama for learning. One principle is the need for conflict between characters, in order to create dramatic tension. It’s not necessary that one character is the ‘baddy’ and the other a ‘goody’ – two characters might simply have different approaches to solving the same problem… which is easy to imagine in most workplaces too.


2. Rear Window

This classic film remains number 51 in the IMDB list of the top 250 movies – for good reason. Martin Scorsese described it as “viewable and enjoyable over and over and over again. It is pure cinema. Everything in it worthy of praise – the sets, the colours, the lighting, the music. It is the master’s masterpiece.”

In his analysis, Tom Hickmore looks at how Hitchcock’s enthusiasm for the most fundamental of filmic techniques is core to the film’s enduring success.  What is the lesson for people in L&D? To master the basics of drama, because they can take you a long way.


3. The Shawshank Redemption

Redemption plots are common in learning dramas, because we are often telling cautionary tales. So, why not learn from the greatest example?

Despite its now legendary status, the movie did not do well on release. Its Oscar nominations gave it a bit of a boost, but the film was still deemed a box office flop. Despite this slow start, the film became one of the highest grossing video rentals of all time.

Clancy Brown, the actor who plays the cruel Captain Hadley, was approached by real prison wardens who wanted his portrayal to be as realistic as possible. But he turned them all down, not wanting to be inhibited in his portrayal of the evil of the character. Realism isn’t always appropriate when you’re trying to tell a story.


4. Finding Nemo

Understanding story design is a fundamental skillset if you’re developing drama content.  In learning drama, of course, we rarely get the chance to tell a whole story.  We may have to create fractions of a longer story.  This is all the more reason why we should be familiar with the fundamentals of story structure – so we can mess with it.

Storytelling is an ancient, primal part of human culture.  Perhaps because of this, there is a lot of fanciful stuff written about story. That’s a pity, because it can distract us from the serious nuts and bolts of story and how to use it.  In this video, Tom describes the fundamental, 3-act story paradigm with reference to the Finding Nemo plot.

Trivia – the main shark character in Finding Nemo is called Bruce – a reference to the nickname given by the crew to the mechanical shark in the movie Jaws.

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