Welcome to my blog!
This has been another week of in-depth education as to structural necessities in preparation for a script.
Reading an excerpt from Robin Mukherjee's "The Art of Screenplays: A Writer's Guide" was so insightful. As a writer for high turnover episodes that are shot at speed, he takes numerous storylines, characters and themes to interviews and may only get hired to write a couple of them. He lets all the unworkable ideas go and develops what the Director chooses. He is not precious about his creations because he recognizes that all the characters must be woven together carefully to enable an episode to keep the audience’s interest and to flow well.
Also, he really researches his story lines by being in the location for the drama. He sees the things that happen there, soaks up the atmosphere, notices minutiae and realises the effect of the location upon the people who work, stay or reside there. For example, he has written a lot of hospital narratives and is contracted to develop short stories that characters are experiencing each week (some just for one episode, others who are regular characters) that can all be woven together into an overarching theme. Writing at speed, under pressure really means that research on the spot gets you immersed in the atmosphere that you want to recreate. Then the essential thing is to use all the writing structures for writing episodes to get them out quickly and effectively.
It is a real eye opener to see how being in situ can create atmosphere and authenticity. Also, a large ‘take home’ from Robin’s work is that you need to have a lot of ideas and not be stuck on any of them, because they are serving an overall theme and collective narrative arching over many episodes. Sometimes a character and their story will be re-invented so many times that it will not resemble the starting idea by the end of its transformation. And that’s fine. In fact, that’s great. It’s the art of ‘letting go’ applied to greater overall effect.
Looking into how to write a treatment and then applying that to the narrative that I have been developing for a short film was extremely helpful. The premise, outline and treatment all highlight areas that really need attention before I even start the dialogue. They give me the opportunity to amend or delete any scenes that are unnecessary and help me to check the continuity of storylines for each character and the overall arc of the film. It's like suddenly being given a wardrobe with shelves and hangars to house my clothing where before I only had a single line of string and pegs to arrange everything on. Suddenly I can be clear in my overview and adhere to succinct and effective structural practices.
Once the structures are used, the depth comes from the dialogue and the choices that the characters take.
We have also taken a deep dive into how to give not only the whole film A and B stories, but also each significant character. Change is the most essential part of the character’s journey- what they do with the opportunity to change will decide whether their story becomes a tragedy or a success.
The A story of either the film or a character is more to do with action and scenatic development, driving the theme to its conclusion.
But the B story is all about the characters, their family interactions, what they care about, stand for and draw motivation from. The B story can surprise us, by showing a character’s complexity and depth. Think of the sentient robots in “Blade Runner”, whose care for each other is just as strong as their A story desire to keep living. They come across as having more humanity than most of the people in the narrative.
The A story for the film and the characters is the skeleton, the bones, and the B stories are the flesh.
Starting a blog as I navigate an MA is all new to me. I am generally a really private person with an 'under-the-radar' online presence, so please delight in spotting my awkwardness at sharing all the tricky moments my course will put me through! As all irritating restauranteurs say nowadays: