Sunday, January 9, 2011

Your script is a blueprint, not the building

In my earlier post, I mentioned the Film Factory competition and the fact that I entered my own short screenplay into the contest.  I also mentioned you can watch last year’s movies. (see below).

What’s really helpful is that you can also read the original scripts submitted, which, of course, I did, months ago. What was wonderful about the two scripts (actually, there are three finalists and you can read all three of them) is not that just the fact that they’re good scripts, but that each seems to have a unique point of view and a distinct voice. 

After the short films debuted at the Three Rivers Film Festival, they were available to watch online.  What's so great is to see what changes were made to the scripts before (or during) filming.  

Part of the Film Factory’s goal is to show the filmmaking process, and rarely does a script stay the same thing on the page as it goes through the development process.  There are issues like set locations, numbers of actors, and other logistics which can influence the type of movie you’re making (especially when it’s low budget).  

Of course, the main goal of rewriting is also to make the story more clear and compelling. 

This is why when I write a play, I never consider it “finished” until its gone into production.  A reading is helpful and workshops are fun, but there’s nothing like the process of a rehearsal period. There’s only one way to test if the play works in front of an audience—and that’s to put it out there on stage . 

A play is a blueprint, a code for instructing actors how to tell this particular story in a particular space.  Theater happens on stage, not on the page.

For an exercise, try this: read a script then watch it.  This is easier with movies (or with Shakespeare because God knows someone in your town is probably destroying his words right this very minute).

Another fun exercise to try is to watch a movie and while watching, try to write down in script format what’s happening.

Both of these exercises are excellent ways of training your mind to think in three dimensions, so that when you’re writing your script, you’re imagining what will happen after the words leave the page.

Roll The Dice from Film Factory on Vimeo.
Anywhere But Here from Film Factory on Vimeo.

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