Archive for April 6th, 2011

April 6, 2011

Quote of the Day: Norbet Platt

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium. 

April 6, 2011

What Audiences Need to Know When

This article from johnaugust.com discusses the oh-so-tricky art of revealing just as much information as you need to and finding the perfect time in your script to reveal it:

Figuring out what the audience needs to know — and when they need to know it — is one of the trickiest aspects of screenwriting. The novelist can suspend the action for paragraphs or pages to establish background information. Screenwriters can’t. We don’t have an authorial voice to fill in the missing details. Everything we want the audience to know has to be spoken by a character, or better yet visualized in a way that suits the big screen.

So we have to be clever. Sometimes, we use the form to our advantage: A lengthy sequence explaining dinosaur cloning techniques in Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park becomes an animated film strip in David Koepp’s movie adaptation. In most cases, we do more with less, distilling the information down to a minimum effective dose to get the audience through the scene, sequence and story.

The frustration for screenwriters is that many of the decision-makers — directors, producers, studio executives — will have different opinions about that minimum effective dose. Directors will try to cut all the dialogue. Producers will focus on strange details, having read the script so many times that they’ve lost fresh eyes. And studio executives, having faced confused audiences at low-scoring test screenings, will want things over-explained to painful degrees.

April 6, 2011

How to Write Violent Scenes

This article from ScriptMag.com gives some insight into how to write a gruesome scene without alienating your audience. Here’s an excerpt:

If you want to write a scene that depicts the horror of violence and want us to identify with the victim’s suffering rather than with the villain’s sense of power and control, the best way to do this is not to make the violence all the more visible and graphic. The trick is to create empathy for the character before the violence occurs, and then depict “the act” in such a way that we are not compelled to emotionally disengage and detach.

There’s really no way around it. Put “blood and guts” on a movie screen, and you may end up making a movie that appears to be a cheerleader for violence, and your “message” about how bad violence is or how abused and exploited the victim is, can get entirely lost.

Remember that the violence we can see in our mind’s eye is far more graphic and powerful than anything you could ever show us. If you, as a screenwriter or filmmaker, can inspire our imagination, this will make us engage with your movie and its hero rather than turn away.

April 6, 2011

Close Up on Bob DeRosa, Writer of Killers

Great interview from myPDFscripts with Bob DeRosa, the screenwriter behind Killers and The Air I Breathe.

In the interview, Bob talks about the books that he found most helpful when getting started as a writer:

I read Syd Field’s stuff, which hammered home the three-act stuff, but that’s all I got from his books. I loved Michael Hauge’s Writing Screenplays that Sell. Understanding that every character or subplot had it’s own arc was vital information. But my fave book at the time was Cynthia Whitcomb’s Selling Your Screenplay. It was the only book that really showed what it was like to be a working writer. Her story is amazing and every writer should read her stuff. There’s no “seven-figure spec sale out of nowhere” story there. It’s all about hard work and dedication. Her story taught me that writing is not glamorous, it is a career and if you want to do it for a living, than you better be ready for the long haul.