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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I don't like rules I have decided. I don't really like the 3 or 9 act structure. Why? Because of its misuse. People who don't know what else to say what you give them your script will just say something from a rule book. They will say "Its great, but there was no plot point on page 21". What is so wrong with this? The big danger is that we stop feeling the emotions and everything becomes intellectual. We start applying rules rather than building worlds with characters who do things that make sense to them. We stop living in the script and start living above it. So the next time someone 'rules' you - just ask them how they felt reading the script, not what they thought of it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Style and Content

On over simplification is to split any creative endeavor into two elements - the style of the piece and its content.

The content is, of course, the dialogue and the characters.
The style we could see as being the look and feel of the final film. But I think that's wrong and too narrow a view. The style is the structure and pace of the script.

Many scriptwriters would argue that content is more important than style. "Let's get the content down first then add the style later" or even see the style as the director's 'bag'. It is an often used criticism that someone has 'put style over content'. And it is true that this can lead to an empty film. But content over style is also a danger.

So you need style and content, yes.
Style over content, no.
Style before content, yes.

That's what may be a challenge to some people. Before dialogue, before structure, even before story - comes style.

Only when we understand the style of the film, how it will look at the end, can we write the best script. To do this effectively would mean often breaking the traditional work structure.

Plus how we fit that idea of style into a 12pt courier script. That's the task.

Monday, August 22, 2005


WaterMelon is a short film that I created recently.
It is now finished and has its own page on the Projector Films website. It is currently being pushed at festivals and seeking distribution.

What is interesting about the film, with regards to the topic of this blog, was the method used in its creation. We tried to make a truly collaborative film. One that fully utilises the creativity of the people involved. But what does that mean?

It means talking about the script to Dave Purse, the composer, before we shot. And using his music on the set. It means sitting down and discussing the shots with Shaune Fradley, the DoP, before we got on set. What ideas does he have while we can still rewrite the script. It means talking to Gary Hayton, the sound designer, while we are storyboarding - what sound ideas does he have as we can shoot images to go with his great sounds.

What is so strange is how obvious this seems yet how back to front to appears to the normal way of shooting. Yes, it is slower, but it is better. And life's to short to make shit films.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Just discovered a bad element with regards to the structure cards. Not very portable. I can carry around the beat sheet as a word doc on my mobile phone but what about all those little cards. Obviously pasty-faced writers aren't supposed to leave the house anyway!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The rationale.

So this is the fourth blog entry. What would be the film equalivant? Well, we've had a little teaser start to lull us in and then, bang, that's when we find out what the movie is really about.

And so what is this blog about? Its about how do we make sure that the film we want to get made, gets made.

Martin Scorcese talked about doing one for the studio and then one for yourself in his guide to American movies. And how many times have we heard writers talking about development guys who don't understand their vision? Are the D guys all complaining about writers who don't do as they are told? This advert is from the WGA - reminding people of the importance of writers. Making sure that writers get the movie that they imagined. So who's in charge and who is fooling who?

But most people I meet aren't looking to make a poor movie deliberatley. In whose interest is that? Even those that know they are making tat see it as part of a bigger picture. "I'm just making this cheap DVD horror to pay the bills. I really want to direct a western" etc. Is this the right approach to take?

All these ideas and more are what we'll be covering. I'll be bringing ideas from sales and management development that I've used (not the tools of the devil, dear writers) to help us answer the question...

How can you make the film you want to make (and is this a good idea in the firstplace)?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Old skool - you know the rules

Yesterday I talked about how the world has moved on making the content of a script seem out of date. BUT there is one thing that hasn't changed at all, the script layout

12 point courier etc.

When I used to teach a scriptwriting course I gave the students a rule. If you can't do it on an old typewriter then you shouldn't do it. This also caused a mutitude of questions about why that should be. All my reply consisted of was to emphasis the fact that obeying the 'rules' will ensure you seem professional and your script out of the iffy pile.

But, really, what sort of answer is that??? Imagine telling a DoP he could only use a silent handcrank camera from 1920 to design his shots. If it can't go on a wooden tripod you can't use it!

When will someone just do it. When will they change it. Or does this (and I say this reluctantly) actually help the writer control this stage of pre-production?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Time for a change?

Some surprising things about working on a script from 1946:

Dialogue heavy scenes - While it makes it a slower read some of the word play is just fantastic and would be edited out today.

Attitudes - you can't believe how out of date a shy pretty girl is when you read it on the page.

Post-modern - Damn those Coen brothers. Anything like either of the above problems seems kind of cool in an out of date, retro way. Is it so out of dates its cool again?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Structure cards

I'm just starting work on a new re-write of an old 1946 script. Perhaps in keeping with the age of the original material I have been using the card method of structure. This is best method of working on a script structure I've found so far. You can literally, and easily, move the scenes or ideas around. Add more detail - add another card. As simple as that. Eventually of course you have to knuckle down and put into the computer to email it etc. But thats another story. Enjoy the cards while you can! Its the best bit.