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Thursday, August 03, 2006

A new idea - please!!!

That's it. I'm sick of it. No one seems to mention it for fear of looking like an idiot. But I don't care - I'm going to stick my neck out.

All this 12 point courier stuff is bollocks.

What a waste of time having all these rules. Rules that ensure that despite ALL modern advances our scripts look as if someone wrote it on a typewriter. I could draw thousands of cliche comparisons with other industries - asking 'what if they hadn't changed design in 80 years'. But what's the point? We get it. We all get it.

It's old and its stupid.

So old and stupid we try to actually justify it! Its so we know if the writer is a professional or not. Well make up some other rule then. How about we all stick the stamp on the envelope upside if we are 'in the biz' from now on? That's just as good. It makes one page equal to one minute. Well kind of nearly it does. And I think we could estimate that anyway. Its about the writing so we want the minimal design on the page. It is about the writing, yes, but a/ this isn't a novel its for a visual medium and b/ by that way of thinking you should never have any descriptive sentences at all.

But why change it? I think it might be holding us back. I think it suits some stories well and other stories not so well. But as a creative writer its tough shit on you. You have to just do it. I think there are ideas on layout for characters, use of colour, ways to connect key sequences with codes and symbols - all things we are missing out on. Not all of us, and not all the time. Most novels look the same, but they don't HAVE to.

I think I'm going round and round here. Basically it comes down to the fact that surpressing new ideas in an artform is bad.

Comments please.


deepstructure said...

two reason why i don't agree with this:

1) creativity is often spurred by restrictions

2) there are soooo many better ways to spend one's innovative energy - like in the story writing itself. write an innovative script first - then worry about the formating.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog, to some extent I agree, I find the requirement for 12 pt courier very restrictive when drafting treatments - it doesn’t allow you to creatively present a film. But I think that’s the point, it’s the idea which should jump off the page, the craft of writing rather than the craft of good graphic design.

I also feel that you have respect the fact that our industry has evolved systems and rules over 100 years to obtain a powerful position within our culture and to establish a billion dollar industry; which will eventually make us some money too.

Being realistic, change rarely happens from people on the out site, once we are in the industry we can change things but we have to get their first and to do this I think a certain amount of playing by their rules helps.

Robin Kelly said...

The problem is different fonts - even in 12 point - may give significantly different page counts.

It's important to me, when reading scripts, to have that rough guide of where things happen and acts fall and knowing it's going to be the same whatever script I pick up.

You mentioned the typewriter but the 'qwerty' keyboard layout is old and stupid and difficult for new typists to learn because it's not logical.

But once they do learn it then they don't give it a second thought.

Tim Clague said...

Great comments from everyone - and as ever a controversial statement always garners the best responses.

Deepstructure is right to say - focus on story anyway
Adam is right to say you can't do nought about it anyway
Robin is right to say the consistency helps him

But I still stay it seems a bit odd that some magic formula was discovered 80 years ago and we all dare not even look at it since.

James Moran said...

I don't think there's anything to gain from changing it - it's hard enough doing a great story with well rounded characters, without worrying if I've done enough fancy formatting too. Why use black text on white paper? Why not? I don't think anyone's saying we can't talk about changing it, I just don't see any great need for it.

Besides, I like the Courier 12 point look, because when it's printed out, somehow it looks like a real script. There's just something magical and exciting about it, and for that reason alone I wouldn't want to change it.

Danny Stack said...

Did the Courier pt12 come about from the Hollywood typewriters in the 30s, when they started writing 'talkies', and the look has stuck ever since?

Some European filmmakers don't write in Courier pt12, they use Times New Roman, and don't give a damn. But that argument doesn't apply to us really...