Okay, so we started this whole thing with the idea that we would make a documentary about prehistoric humanity, and that somehow or other this would tie into the idea of happiness. I think we’re only just now starting to figure out what we actually mean by that:
One: after much fussing, I think we can say that, roughly speaking, the idea is to make a documentary about the evolution of happiness. There’s heaps to ponder under that heading: what’s the purpose of happiness, from the perspective of the survival of the species? In other words, are we built to be happy? Under what conditions? Given that we evolved to function in a paleolithic environment, not a post-modern one, do the conditions for happiness still exist? Did they ever? Are we well-designed? And so on. Lots of interesting and entertaining material in there, I think.
Two: what it means to be making a puppet documentary, as opposed to a puppet play, is this: we’re replacing plot with ideas. There has to be the same arc as a story — the thing has to be moving, and exciting, but it has to be doing that by revealing bit-by-bit, not what happens to a character, but what we think is true. See what I mean? That’s an exciting documentary — you discover at the end something you had never known or thought before.
Put another way: a documentary begins by asking a question that we want to know the answer to, and then answering it. The question we seem to be asking is: how can we be happy? That’s a good question, and one that anybody would be anxious to have answered. But, dang it, who knows the answer? Not me. I mean, sometimes, even generally speaking, I’m happy, but I couldn’t really tell you how or why in any profound sense.
So… is there another way to structure the documentary? Another question, maybe? Or a way of getting out of having an answer?