Re-telling the story of Chernobyl and finding unique stories to tell

You wouldn’t believe my face when we found out that there would be a marathon of Chernobyl on TV and then I realized it was a dubbed version in German.

Come on!

I wanted to watch it again but not this way.

Anyway, we still watched even if I couldn’t understand everything. And again, I was impressed.

It’s so well executed. The music, the acting, the details. You can recognize how well it’s done even if it’s in an unfamiliar language.

It didn’t matter I had already watched the series, I was still in awe about everything going on in the screen.

When I watched it the first time, I also checked out the companion podcast. OF COURSE I listened to it. One of the hosts of it is Craig Mazin, the creator. Btw, he also wrote the screenplays for Scream 3 and 4, wow. 

The cool thing about the podcast is that they talk about the decisions behind everything you see on the screen. Even details like the accent of the characters are discussed, for example.

During the first episode, Craig and Peter Sagal (from NPR!), discuss how the story of Chernobyl has been told many times. We all know what happened more or less. We’ve all seen photos of the city nowadays. Some of us have watched horror movies that take place there.

And yet, Craig Mazin had another very interesting story to tell.

I was listening to a talk about producing unscripted content with David Collins, the guy that created Queer Eye, and Andrew Fried, famous for Chef’s Table and Cheer. It was a very candid conversation about what it takes to plan and create this kind of content. They both told some stories about how they sold their shows and how to find the right people to collaborate with.

Everything was super insightful but, being interested more in the stories they tell with their shows, there was something Andrew Fried said that stuck with me.

If it can be stolen, it’s not yours. What is your take? What is the unique thing? Anybody could’ve done a show about cheerleading, about people who cook… but we did it our way. [Think] about what about it is special, then it’s yours and nobody can take it from you.

Andrew Fried

Craig Mazin mentions that a lot of stories about Chernobyl focus on the things that led to the explosion. A lot of stories focus on the present, how the city looks now, how nature has taken over.

We all know those.

But I had never seen the story of what has happened right after the explosion. I had never thought about the families that had to abandon their homes. And, of course, I had never thought about the human factor that made everything worse.

And that’s a unique take.

There are stories we’ve all heard before. Is there room for one more re-telling?

I say yes.

The goal is not to tell a completely unique story but to make it unique because you’re telling it.

That’s it.

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