The difficulty we will have, of course, is simply that we're writing about something that words are not able to completely clarify. And trying to use words to do that!
What if we entirely agree that the cinematography (etc) should be in allegiance to this "film as a whole", surely we can use the word 'story' to mean the same thing. While the script might not tell us the story of how the Imperial Star Destroyer enters frame from above, we've nevertheless just referred to this particular detail as a story.
In what way then, might the truism not also mean this understanding of story?
What will determine the answer here is not the truism, or any particular take on such, but the context in which the truism is trotted out. It is the context that will determine what is being meant by 'story' in this regard.
One way of determining such is to ask under what conditions the truism is trotted out? Against what supposed misconception is the truism being deployed? What are the specifics of the discussion in which this supposed donald card might be played? It will be in these details where the meaning of 'story' will be clarified to the extent it is. And I'd suggest that by 'story' is meant that which a script otherwise tells - that this story is typically the one intended. For example, the story the script for Star Wars tells.
If a giant spacecraft hurtles into frame, above the audience, this will be just one of any other way of expressing the same story as told by the script. The particular solution adopted can be regarded as arbitrary in this way. What will be deemed important is the extent to which the shots serve (or express) the story of a tiny spacecraft, pursued by a giant Imperial Star Destroyer.
But this is to suggest there could have been another way of making this particular film, be it for better or worse. And we might suggest this is the particular hole into which Lucas descended.
An alternative to this, and one I'd advocate is where one already knows, in a vague or quite clear way, what is going to occupy the screen in terms of images and sounds. One might speak of some giant spacecraft hurtling through space in perspective, like the way the spaceship Discovery in 2001 did, but in a fast paced, more adrenalin pumping way - chasing a tiny spacecraft - but with the same authentic space lighting that 2001 employed ... etc.
And towards such an end we will need a story to structure this.
Now this completely oversimplifies it (and merely reverses the problem into the opposite problem) but it's to provide an indication of how story and means are not necessarily cause and effect, and that there is a bigger context in which all of these elements, including story, can be regarded as composed. For the purposes of creation one decomposes each of these elements. They remain interconnected (or intertwined), but each with a different emphasis. Each component is effectively a different way of understanding the entire work, be it from the point of view of cinematography, or the point of view of sound, or that of costume design, and so on. They are all like fragments of a hologram, each of which sees the entire picture, but from another point of view. And the story is just one of those fragments. The task of film making is akin to reassembling the hologram - to bring together all of these fragments. To reconstruct the whole.
Of course, in the beginning the whole is not in any way physically given (other than by reference to fragments of such, in historical precedents). It is imagined. Hallucinated. It is a precognition. It is that which a text might indicate, as will concept art, and storyboards, and so on. The work proper will be triangulated by each of these components. Brought into focus. Created in this way.
It is a myth, we might say, that one only tells the same story that the script tells.
Edited by Carl Looper, 21 March 2016 - 06:41 PM.