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SCRIPTWRITING: TOOLS & RESOURCES. FOUR KEY GUIDELINES Consider the script ‘ holistically ’ Consider the script ‘ holistically ’ Balance strategy and creativity.

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Presentation on theme: "SCRIPTWRITING: TOOLS & RESOURCES. FOUR KEY GUIDELINES Consider the script ‘ holistically ’ Consider the script ‘ holistically ’ Balance strategy and creativity."— Presentation transcript:

1 SCRIPTWRITING: TOOLS & RESOURCES

2 FOUR KEY GUIDELINES Consider the script ‘ holistically ’ Consider the script ‘ holistically ’ Balance strategy and creativity (redefine ‘ market ’ & ‘ commercial ’ ) Balance strategy and creativity (redefine ‘ market ’ & ‘ commercial ’ ) Differentiate between filmmaking, scriptwriting and storytelling Differentiate between filmmaking, scriptwriting and storytelling Be careful about applying the same strict rules in different cultural contexts Be careful about applying the same strict rules in different cultural contexts

3 FOUR DISTINCT CRAFTS Storytelling Storytelling Dramaturgy Dramaturgy Scriptwriting Scriptwriting Filmmaking Filmmaking

4 STORIES: BUILDING BLOCKS CONFLICT (presentation of predicaments that require a decision or resolution => what will generate CURIOSITY and TENSION) CONFLICT (presentation of predicaments that require a decision or resolution => what will generate CURIOSITY and TENSION) CURIOSITY / EXPECTATION (what’s going to happen? => intellectual response) CURIOSITY / EXPECTATION (what’s going to happen? => intellectual response) TENSION / SUSPENSE (hope, fear, anger, sadness about what might happen=> emotional response) TENSION / SUSPENSE (hope, fear, anger, sadness about what might happen=> emotional response) FLUCTUATION BETWEEN WHAT YOU GUESS, HOPE OR DREAD MIGHT HAPPEN NEXT

5 What makes a story a story? We don’t live inside a story, but we turn everything we experience or remember into a story. And we don’t usually tell it like this: THEN…AND THEN…AND THEN… but rather like this: THEN…BUT…THEN…BUT…THEN… We use time, tension and dramatic stakes

6 1. Telling a story => narrative content (the facts) 2. Telling a good story => semantic content (the meaning) 3. Telling a story well => dramatic content (the tension)

7 1 (facts) + 2 (meaning) + 2 (meaning) + 3 (tension) = You’re on the right track!

8 What makes a script a script? What makes a script a script? Format (what does it look like?) Format (what does it look like?) Genre (what are the codes?) Genre (what are the codes?) Theme (why?) Theme (why?) Time (when?) Time (when?) Location (where?) Location (where?) Plot (what?) Plot (what?) Structure (how?) Structure (how?) Characters (who?) Characters (who?) Dialogue (what do they say?) Dialogue (what do they say?)

9 Spirit (theme) Brain (concept) Heart (characters) Sex (dramatic tension) Muscle (plot) Skeleton (structure)

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17 Genres DRAMA (Romantic, family, personal, erotic) DRAMA (Romantic, family, personal, erotic) COMEDY (Romantic, family, personal) COMEDY (Romantic, family, personal) DRAMEDY (Dramatic comedy) DRAMEDY (Dramatic comedy) MELODRAMA MELODRAMA THRILLER (Psy thriller) THRILLER (Psy thriller) EPIC EPIC SATIRE SATIRE NOIR / CRIME / GANGSTER / COPS NOIR / CRIME / GANGSTER / COPS HORROR (Vampires, zombies, ghosts) HORROR (Vampires, zombies, ghosts) GORE (Slasher, torture) GORE (Slasher, torture) WAR WAR SCIENCE-FICTION SCIENCE-FICTION FANTASY FANTASY ACTION / ADVENTURE ACTION / ADVENTURE BIOPIC BIOPIC DOCUMENTARY DOCUMENTARY MOCKUMENTARY MOCKUMENTARY DOCUFICTION DOCUFICTION FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT / KIDS FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT / KIDS

18 Theme What is your story about? (Or why do you want to tell it?) A genre is not a theme (‘war’) A genre is not a theme (‘war’) A concept or a sentiment are not themes (‘revenge’ or ‘love’ ) A concept or a sentiment are not themes (‘revenge’ or ‘love’ ) A character is not a theme (‘Big Lebowski’ or ‘Michael Jackson’ ) A character is not a theme (‘Big Lebowski’ or ‘Michael Jackson’ ) A place or a time are not themes (‘the Amazon forest’ or ‘1492’) A place or a time are not themes (‘the Amazon forest’ or ‘1492’) It’s what you feel about each of these, and you want to pass on to your audience The theme is an emotional enactment of an idea, not a didactic statement

19 Plot & Story Conflict Conflict Chain reaction (causes and consequences) Chain reaction (causes and consequences) Consistency (narrative, dramatic, thematic) Consistency (narrative, dramatic, thematic)

20 A PLOT IS A JOURNEY It involves time, space and movement One or more characters start from point A and ‘travel’ through the plot to point B. What happens on the way? What moves or prevents the character(s) from moving? Are they external or internal factors?

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24 Structure Chronology: linear, reverse, mosaic Chronology: linear, reverse, mosaic Ellipses Ellipses Parallel storylines & intercutting (meanwhile…) Parallel storylines & intercutting (meanwhile…) Genesis/Development/Resolution (= three acts…?) Genesis/Development/Resolution (= three acts…?) Information management (when you give it, how and how much) Information management (when you give it, how and how much) Contrast (pacing, mood, light, sound) Contrast (pacing, mood, light, sound) Flashbacks Flashbacks Voice over Voice over

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29 “Somebody wants something badly and is having difficulty getting it”. Frank Daniel’s definition of 'The Dramatic Predicament'. Characters

30 Listen to your characters What do they need or want to do? What would they logically do in the situation your story has put them? If it doesn’t make sense, alter either the story or the characters, but don’t try to force them into a plot they don’t want to be in

31 Give characters: nuances nuances inner conflicts inner conflicts dilemmas and tough choices dilemmas and tough choices something to lose if they win or viceversa something to lose if they win or viceversa motivations that are universally understandable, though not necessarily universally shared motivations that are universally understandable, though not necessarily universally shared

32 Audiences don’t have to agree with, approve of or justify what a character does. They need to understand and relate to it. If someone cries and I don’t know why, I’ll feel sorry (and may cry too: mirror neurons) If someone cries because their religious belief has been mocked, I might not feel much If someone cries because their baby child has died, I’ll probably cry with them

33 The way characters speak in a film needs to be in keeping with the genre, the style, the degree of realism, the period, and the overall coherence of the film. Dialogue

34 Dialogue is not meant to reproduce the way people actually speak but to make the words sound believable in a given environment. Dialogue is not meant to reproduce the way people actually speak but to make the words sound believable in a given environment.

35 Dialogue is also: Dialogue is also: what characters do not say what characters do not say what characters do while they speak what characters do while they speak what characters do instead of speaking what characters do instead of speaking what characters mean rather than what they say what characters mean rather than what they say how good it sounds (musicality) how good it sounds (musicality)

36 TWO INTERESTING EXAMPLES OF GOOD DIALOGUE Scenes from Bob Fosse’s ‘CABARET’ and Roman Polanski’s ’CHINATOWN’

37 What makes a story memorable? Strong dramatic stakes: what do the protagonists stand to lose (even if they win)? Strong dramatic stakes: what do the protagonists stand to lose (even if they win)? What would I do in the character’s place? What would my priority be? What would I do in the character’s place? What would my priority be? Contradictory feelings: I disapprove morally or intellectually but empathise emotionally Contradictory feelings: I disapprove morally or intellectually but empathise emotionally

38 A WORD ABOUT DRAMATURGY The Kuleshov Effect: the projection of personal feelings onto a character The Kuleshov Effect: the projection of personal feelings onto a character The Dramatic Intensity Scale: depending on how identifiable and powerful an emotion, you need to stress it more or less The Dramatic Intensity Scale: depending on how identifiable and powerful an emotion, you need to stress it more or less

39 The Kuleshov Effect An identical facial expression will be interpreted differently according to what we assume or know the person is witnessing or thinking

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41 Dramatic Intensity Scale LowLow-mediumMedium Medium- high High -Bird flies off rooftop -It starts raining -Girl skates by in the street -Boy breaks favourite toy -Man misses flight -Woman loses mobile -Man’s wife cheats on him -Woman’s best friend spreads nasty gossip about her -Man fails to get better job -Pregnant woman is left by husband -Man is laid off -Bomb explodes in local metro -Woman’s husband and child die in crash -Man goes blind -Man’s home is burned to the ground

42 Telling backstory A major scriptwriting challenge Use referential knowledge Use referential knowledge Less is more: trust your audience Less is more: trust your audience AND… AND…

43 TRUST YOUR STORY!


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