Monday, August 6, 2007

Cinematic Excellence

This is a post inspired by the MernitMan over at Living The Rom Com. he really made me miss the old days where women actually had to act and men had to be honorable.

I really need to watch more of those types of movies. I get sick of the silly dramatic conversations that consist of guys calling each other names for 10 minutes at a time.

A laugh or a tear are perhaps the most powerful images. With a furrowed brow or the raising and lowering of a head coming in a close second.

More emotion can be packed into that than C4 in a trashcan.

I also long for better scene transitions that allow for a seamless look at different parts of a story.

I just wrote something that utilizes wardrobe and hair styles to show change rather than speeches about how a character changes.

I did add some more conflict to it to appease the reviewer gods, but I think I did an excellent job with imagery and sub-plots. Most sub-plots tend to be some back story connection between the protag and antag but I think that's a cop-out. Who cares if they killed each other's dog.

What about the buddy and the love interest? Do they interact? Give them a few scenes - hey hey can talk about the protag. Most movies rely too much on "conflict" and not enough on the human condition; the differences between five friends, the similarities between people we love and the people we hate, how psychological trauma(death of a loved one) is more powerful than external forces(death threats), etc.

I found in this movie that the use of dreams work really well to abstract a person's reaction to action. My most fervent desire is to make people stop and think, "What just happened?" They'll think about it until they figure it out or ask someone to see it and tell them what they thought.

I have never produced a movie myself but have you ever found yourself knowing what the next line would be? A strange feeling that. Does it mean the movie is bad or good or perhaps that you have found your calling?

Who knows, but I love to play games with images. I'm working on a comedy where I figured a way to introduce all of the main characters in the same scene, but they don't see it. I'm really happy with it.

I know that "fluff pays" but substance lasts.

Another thing I try to do when writing is finding parallel characters and arcs. In my favorite unproduced script, I parallel three different guys and how each of them influences a different reaction by the protag. I also use a parallel between two secret societies on different sides of the protag, though it also looks at how all men, in one way or another, want to possess women.

I don't use a lot of "conflict amongst friends" as a way to add drama - what the hell are the antags for?

In South of La Brea (my baby) I actually managed 4 antags through sub-plots at different times. I guess the first thing is like they say "write what you know."

But back to Mernit's post, I know what he means about the armchair reviewers who just want to see explosions and friends arguing for half the movie and making up for the other half.

As a screenwriter, I find it difficult to critique other writers, especially those that are selling movies, but I will critique a movie after I see it. not to say how good or bad it was but whether or not it had memorable images or dialog.

One from SOLB that I love is after a long day the protag sits in the car, exhales and looks to the sky, hands on the steering wheel. To me it evokes worry and strength.

Anyway, here's to cinematic excellence in all its forms and to Antonioni and Bergman, pioneers both.


mernitman said...

"Fluff pays but substance lasts." Now there's an aptly phrased axiom to remember.

Glad the post rang a bell with you. Write on...

Christian M. Howell said...

And thanks for the post. And the comment. It's good to see that I'm not alone.

As an exchange from Must Love Dogs said:

"Aaah, a philosopher and a poet, it is we who suffer most."

the reply:

"Except for perhaps the victims of violent crime."

I guess I have a Man Crush on Christopher Plummer. I would love to write dialog for him.

I wish I could say I was in this for the money, but I'm not. Of course I won't turn it down but I'd like to write something that affects different people in different ways.

After all a laugh is not always a laugh. Neither is a tear always a tear.