Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Screenplay: Story & Structure

As I continued my readings in the book: 'Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting" by Syd Field, I came across some more interesting and helpful information when planning the writing process. Obviously time is required and lots of it, but what else do you have to do besides sticking to a schedule? In his book, Field stresses the importance of knowing your story; now this may seem obvious at first and very easy for most screenwriters, but as he's addressed, you can start writing and get stuck at page 60. Everything was going well and you thought you had it all planned out, and then you hit a stop. It could be writer's block or it could just be poor design in setting everything up.

In my last blog entry I talked about character and this is incredibly important when moving on to the next part: story and structure. You will need to know your ending; not every detail of the last scene but the basic resolution (as he calls it) of the story, and then the beginning. You have 10 pages to impress the reader and make them want to keep going. And following that, your Plot Point 1 & 2 (the transitions from Act 1 to Act 2, and Act 2 to Act 3). The character information can help you move the story forward if you get stuck or if you need extra material to make the story more fluid. But, I don't want to totally regurgitate what he was saying, so I'll adapt this to our work (once again).

10 pages isn't a lot of room to impress the reader. So, what should we put in there? We've sent one of our early drafts out to be read, and received very good criticism for our first scene. What it should do is introduce the story; we dropped them into the film with Keith and Becker; although they are not the main characters, they bring the audience into the story at one of its peak moments, and present one of the running messages in the film (we won't give away too much just yet).

However, one of the challenges we do face is making sure that our non-chronological time frame doesn't lose the audience. Many films have successfully kept the audience's suspension of disbelief; 'Memento' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' are just two of them. The key to this is making sure you transition properly to the current, past, or even future time (along with presenting those good character parts).

When I saw the film 'White Night Wedding,' I walked out feeling very grateful for the way they transitioned between the two storylines; without that dip to white (white flash) they used, I would have been a goner for a large chunk of time during the film. However, they used it so well, that it flowed nicely and kept the audience in prime attention.

I did want to talk a little bit about collaboration screenwriting (as I am), but this entry is getting somewhat long, so we'll save that for next time.

Links of Interest:
Movie: 'White Night Wedding'
-A great example of good storytelling when dealing with multiple storylines.

Email Newsletter: Writers Guild Foundation
-I have subscribed to a few of their others (WGA), but this one deals with screenwriting events, screenings, and exclusive invitations (which I'm really excited to hear about).

Book: 'The Independent Filmmaker's Law and Business Guide'
'The Independent Filmmaker's Law and Business Guide: Financing, Shooting, and Distributing Independent and Digital Films' by Jon Garon is a book I just recently bought and will be reading soon; it's getting some fantastic reviews and is probably something as an independent filmmaker you may want to read (that is, if you are one (aspiring counts!)).

Until next Tuesday, thanks for reading.

§ Matt
If you have any questions or comments, please write them below, or email them to me at mcici@lambentfuse.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's some more very interesting information about screenplay structure: