The Opportunity For Renewal

Who would have thought that Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee, who began their careers as student filmmakers, would return to the short film mid-career BMW hired each filmmaker to make a short film about his car that would be shown on its website. The films have been so successful that at least one has been released in select cinemas and the series is available for purchase on DVD. Scorsese had returned earlier to the short form to make the Michael Jackson music video Bad for the album 'Thriller....

The Catalytic Event

Oscar's birth is the catalytic event of the narrative. In the birth canal, he appears already fully formed, with knowing eyes, the same size he will be when he makes his fateful decision to stop growing. He is thus presented at birth with a sense of seeing and knowing that one does not associate with a newborn child. This presentation makes credible the act of will that marks the end of his growth. It also positions Oscar as the perennial observer rather than participant in the events that...

Another Example Of Screenplay Shorthand

Screenwriter Robert Towne has a distinctive, ironic, and rather leisurely descriptive style. Nonetheless, he condenses a great deal of information into a few lines on this first page of a late draft of Chinatown. The script opens with close-ups of a series of snapshots of a man and woman making love. These visuals are accompanied by the sound of anguished moans and a male voice crying out, Oh, no At this point, we cut to the following scene CURLY drops the photos on Gittes' desk. Curly towers...

Using Sound As Metaphor

The sound of a ticking clock in a scene may be simply part of ambient sound, or, as in High Noon, serve as a metaphor for the passage of time, bringing the hero inexorably closer to a showdown he does not want. Sometimes the long wail of a locomotive reminds us that our character lives near railroad tracks sometimes it serves as a metaphor for a character's yearnings to escape the confines of his or her life. Sound used as metaphor can create a whole dimension of meaning not immediately...

Exercise Dialogue As Action

Write down the following dialogue, in format or not, as you choose. As soon as you have the lines on paper, begin writing further lines, or even physical actions of the characters, as fast as you can, without worrying about exposition or concerning yourself as to whether or not any of it makes sense. Write for 10 minutes and stop. Immediately afterward, ask your characters the questions from Exercise 2 see page 29 and write down the answers. The answers will establish the context for your...

Pigeon

La Colombe by Anthony Green Based on a True Story Setting Winter Early December Small town of Reims in France 1941, Nazi regime has occupied France for nearly 18 months. FADE IN EXT. SMALL TRAIN PLATFORM AT TICKET WINDOW DAY. JOSEPH WEISNER, 55 years old, stocky, grey-haired male takes his ticket from the small opening in the glass partition of the ticket office. The open-air station leaves the harsh winter breeze free to prey on the dozen passengers waiting for the next train. JOSEPH walks to...

Examples Of The Journey Structure

Two award-winning student shorts from New York University that use this structure to very different ends are Going to Work in the Morning from Brooklyn, written and directed by Phillip Messina, and Champion, written and directed by Jeffrey D. Brown. Going to Work in the Morning from Brooklyn tells the story of a man who absolutely does not want to go to work, although he knows he must. We follow him in his anguished, comical struggle to get out of bed, into a suit and tie, out the door, and...

Examples From Student Scripts

Here is a description of the protagonist of Christian Taylor's Lady in Waiting, a ritual occasion script, the first time we see her INT. A sticker is placed on the box which reads AUCTION. There is a sigh from the owner of the hands, MISS PEACH. Miss Peach is a grey-haired, formal-looking woman in her late fifties. She sits awkwardly on a suitcase in the middle of the dining room, which is bare of furniture Miss Peach is conservatively dressed in a drab woolen coat and unassuming hat.5 Beyond...

Examples Of The Ritual Occasion Structure

Sleeping Beauties see Appendix B for script is the story of two sisters, aged 15 and 16, who find that the imaginary male dream-figure they have created between them has come to life. In this film, the arrival of a stranger who conforms to the imaginary lover created by two sisters triggers the ritual occasion in this case, a coming of age around which the film revolves. Unlike many such stories, the main character in this one rejects the opportunity offered, suffering accordingly when the...

The Ritual Occasion

The ritual occasion is another general shaping form, but it is less open-ended than the journey. Using this shape emphasizes a particular happening. It also has implications, particularly for the character either the character will achieve greatly or fail greatly in the course of the event. One of the benefits of using the ritual occasion as a shaping device is that it concentrates the drama of the story, creating a useful intensity and a natural rise to the story. Once you determine how you...

Case Study In Character Sleeping Beauties

In Karyn Kusama's Sleeping Beauties reprinted in Appendix B , two adolescent sisters prepare for bed. They smoke a cigarette and share a fantasy about a young man on a motorbike who will come and take them away. They go to sleep. They hold hands, thereby acknowledging the love between them. Such a motorcycle rider actually does appear, and the dominant sister decides that the more modest sister should join him. She does so. The one who is left behind feels abandoned. Her sister returns. They...

The Process Of Visualization

The first step in visualization is to consider the way you tell your story. We suggest that telling a story in the present is more effective than a retrospective approach. Presenting a story so that it seems to be occurring as we are watching it, gives the story immediacy and energy and puts the writer in the strongest position to direct the way the story will take place. Telling the story retrospectively means telling it in the past tense, therefore making it more distant. Telling the story in...

Dialogue As Dramatic Action Text Subtext And Context

In art, as in life, gesture and speech have to be seen or heard in context in order to be fully understood. Someone may say, Come in, and close the door after you, in a manner that implies a request for privacy, suggests wonderful things to follow, or threatens your physical well-being. In order to grasp the subtext of a particular line or gesture in any script the text that is, in order to grasp its underlying or implicit meaning we need to place it in proper context, to examine that line or...