Is a Script Necessary

If somebody asked you to name nine or ten outstanding documentaries or documentary series, it is highly possible that your list might include

Nanook of the North, Hoop Dreams, Best Boy, The Good Woman of Bangkok, Harlan County, One Day in September, "The Nazis: A Lesson from History," Soldiers in the Army of God, The War Game, Letters from Vietnam, Diary for Timothy, "A Walk Through the Twentieth Century," Soldier Girls, and Tongues Untied. What strikes us about the list? First, the sheer variety of the films. They range from Flaherty's classic description of Inuit life through an institutional portrait to Jennings's gentle observation of life in England at the end of World War II. Best Boy tells us about the life of a mentally retarded man; Harlan County deals with striking miners; The War Game is a horrifying documentary drama of the effects of an atomic bomb on a small British town. All are, in their own ways, outstanding examples of really excellent documentary films.

But what was the writer's part in these projects and in the success of the films? Apart from "The Nazis: A Lesson from History," only five or six of the works — including The War Game, "Twentieth Century," Tongues Untied, and, perhaps, Diary for Timothy—had anything resembling a full preproduction script or final narration. All the other films were largely unscripted. Notes were probably jotted down and long discussions held as to what sequences to shoot, but no long preproduction scripts with suggested visuals and tentative commentary were prepared. Instead, most of these films were built on the editing table. Clearly, then, you can have a successful film without a script, or at least without a conventional script that defines action and progression and carefully lays in all the narration or guidelines for the narration. All this, of course, is illustrated by the success of cinema verite in the 1960s and by the esteem granted to Drew, Pennebaker, Wiseman, the Maysles brothers, Leacock, and other pioneers of the genre.

Granted, then, you can have a film without a prewritten script, or even a clear outline of ideas, but if you are going to do a commissioned film for television, then usually both become necessary. So the sooner you learn how to deal with these items the better.

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

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