Taking a look at the WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays and David Lemon’s Seven Scripts Every Writer Should Read led me to learn several things. I had never previously read any screenplays, so doing this allowed me to get a better understanding of how scenes for movies are planned out. One thing that stood out to me is the amount of descriptive details directors put into their screenplays. They describe everything including the set-up of props, lighting, sounds, and what actors are to do and say at given times. However, I also noticed the directions that are given to actors are not wholly permanent. The actors are given some leniency and the opportunity to add their own twists to scenes. I noticed this by reading the screenplays for certain scenes of The Godfather and The Godfather II, and comparing them to the scenes that were actually filmed and published. Though many directions in the screenplays were exactly followed in the films, the ways in which actors said things and expressed their emotions seemed to be somewhat left up to their own interpretations. I believe that this is what makes actors’ actions and expressions appear so natural. Rather than having to follow an exact prescription, they are able to read their scripts and act them out the way in which their emotional reactions to the situations in the scripts actually make them feel. Another thing I noticed while reading the screenplays was the attention directors gave to camera angles and transitions between scenes. I think these are important because they have a great impact on the viewing experience. Camera angles have a significant influence on the energy portrayed in a scene. For instance, filming someone from below can give them an aura of power and authority if it is done correctly. Filming an actor’s face up close gives viewers the ability to clearly see his facial expressions and therefore get a better sense of what the character he is acting as is feeling. Transitions can also be used to instill particular feelings in viewers. For instance, a seemingly random transition that is cleverly placed can make the viewer feel confused at that particular moment, only to find out that the transition wasn’t random at all later on in the film. Transitions are important because they allow directors to portray different periods of time.
Reading and analyzing some of what are considered the best screenplays of all time has given me a better idea of what I should pay attention to when writing my screenplay for my “Life Remixed” movie script. I will make sure to include details about props, lighting, sounds, camera angles, and transitions. I will also come up with scripts for actors, but will expect the actors to interpret how the things they say should be said on their own. Though “Life Remixed” will be a very low-budget film, I do not think that this hinders its potential. By giving some thought and much attention to detail when writing the screenplay, the filmed material has the potential to be very impressive.
I have always loved Woody Allen. I love that kind of comedy and I personally think his movies are hilarious. Today, I love Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, but he was the first to truly master the brand of comedy. Therefore, I read the script of Annie Hall. The first thing that stuck me was how detailed the script was. I had a clear vision of the movie in my head just by reading the script. I had always thought the writer just writes the dialogue and the director moves the characters as he sees fit. In this script, I can picture the scene of Alvy in his old classroom just by the brief, yet extremely specific description he gives of the setting and what is to take place. Not only does it give a description of setting, but it also gives feelings of emotion. Not only are there blurbs that describe how the character is supposed to feel, but the writing itself molds the acting in a specific way. For example the use of punctuation and stutters gives the actor a clear path to follow and a vision for how the character is supposed to be. It was amazing to read one of my heroes script, and even more surreal to see how his vision and writing turned into the final product. I would have never guessed Woody Allen to get as specific as he did and be more loose in the way he makes movies, but it showed me that even the best have structure that they must follow, and a very specific and detailed vision they follow from the beginning.
The next script I read was Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Like Woody Allen, I find Tarantino to be a genius and Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movies so I was intrigued to read the script. Because I have a recollection of the movie and know the scenes well, I think it is a little easier to follow the script. Additionally, both these movies have beginnings that do not necessarily coincide with the next part of the movie but rather come together in the end. Instead of having a standard beginning, maybe I can have a flashback or a anecdote that somehow relates to my movie in the grand scheme of things. Additionally, while my movies is obviously much shorter, I can think about doing sub-sections like Tarantino does, and have them all coincide in the end.
These scripts have inspired me to deviate from the norm a little and not just have the standard five minute student movie. While I need to figure out how I am going to do this, these two directors are certainly good models and I have learned a lot from reading their scripts.
I learned a lot about the ways one writes a film script by reading some of the scripts from David Lemon’s Seven Scripts Every Writer Should Read, including scripts from Little Miss Sunshine, Back to the Future, The Apartment, and Aliens, and some of the scripts from WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays, such as All About Eve, Casablanca, and Annie Hall. Since I have never written a screenplay before, I got a chance to learn about and become more comfortable with how the scripts are structured. The dialogue is tabbed and centered into the middle of the page, and scene descriptions and directions are not tabbed, but rather run the whole width of the page. The descriptions and directions were very detailed and comprehensive, which I noted to make sure I included in my script. Along with the all the adjectives and action words in the descriptions, there were many capitalized words, which I looked into more on Google. I found out that one should capitalize sounds, moving actions, close-up identifiers, and character names. The capitalization shows importance of the word in the story. Above the directions and descriptions, there was the number of the scene and the name of where the scene took place labeled INT. or EXT., which meant interior and exterior, respectively, and DAY or NIGHT. I was inspired to be very descriptive about where the scene took place because I realized the importance of knowing exactly when and where the scene was to take place. One needs to be able to look at the script and be able to know what type of external factors to account for. On the inside of a room, one needs to account for dim lighting and echoes. On the other hand, outside, one needs to be aware of loud noises, objects getting in the way, and weather. I also made sure to note that I wanted to label the scenes with numbers to keep my script organized and make it easy to refer to each scene.
In addition to scene descriptions, I was inspired to include dialogue descriptions, such as voice overs (V.O.), which is the narration of a character’s voice when he or she is not present in the scene, and off scene dialogue, which is when the character is present and active in the scene, but not actually being captured in the shot. These types of dialogues add diversity to the dialogue, which will capture the viewers’ interests. I will not only label the dialogue as voice overs and off scene dialogue, but I will also include in parentheses descriptions of what the speaker is doing or feeling and who he or she is directing the dialogue at.
The descriptions of the transitions in the scripts, such as “dissolve to,” “cut to,” “fade to,” etc., inspired me to include different types of transitions within my own script. The different types of transitions will show diversity and attract interest as well as show the amount of attention paid to detail in the film.
One of my family’s favorite movies is Slumdog Millionaire. After reading through the screenplay, it is easy to see why it is our favorite. One thing I never knew about screenplays was that they detailed each scene perfectly. They not only tell the location where scenes are occurring, but also inform you on exactly what is going on. For example in the screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire one of the scenes has “[t]he sound of mumbled Indian prayer” (1). Such lines make it simple to imagine what is going on in the background of the scenes. Another thing I noticed was the ease in which suspense can be created, even in a screenplay. In the script for Slumdog Millionaire an example of this is shown in the line “[he] [p]uts the pistol to his head. We still cannot see who this is” (1). In including these lines, it is possible to feel the tension that is brewing during that scene. The script has inspired me to incorporate suspense and vivid scenes into my screenplay.
Another one of my favorite movies growing up was Back to the Future. One thing that I immediately noticed in its screenplay was the beginning quote by Carl Sagan. I never realized the power a quote can have on introducing a script. However, this is only possible if the quote directly relates in some way to the storyline, as it did in Back to the Future’s script. In the quote, Sagan discusses that there could be two dimensions to our lives, even if we don’t know it. This quote effectively leads into the storyline since Marty and his professor both travel in time to a different dimension they were not aware existed. Another thing I realized while reading the script is its resemblance to an actual story book. Although the screenplay does shift through different scenes dramatically, it is still easy to follow. To illustrate, there was a scene where Marty was eating food in a café, talking casually to the server, Dick. The scene instantly changed to the classroom, where Marty was having another conversation with one of his professors. The alternate scenes did not tamper with understanding the dialogues. In fact, it made reading through it more interesting since you didn’t know when the scene would change. The script has inspired me to create a flowing transition between scenes, while maintaining understanding of what is occurring in each scene.
After going through two scripts I was familiar with, I decided to read the screenplay for The Apartment since it was foreign to me. It was a bit confusing at the beginning, since I didn’t quite understand what was going on. The script started with letters being written, which left me confused since I did not know what the letters were for. As I continued going through the script, I still did not get an idea of what the letters were being used to represent. One thing I enjoyed about the script was its attention to character emotions. The conversations that were held between the characters truly captured the emotion behind the words. For example, in one line Kirkeby, one of the characters, is trying to get the girl he is having an affair with out of the apartment by saying “[p]lease Sylvia! It’s a quarter to nine!” (1). This line makes it apparent that Kirkeby is frustrated at Sylvia for not leaving. The script has inspired me to create dramatic dialogues between characters, while reducing any confusion the viewer might have towards the script.
After browsing David Lemon’s website, I realized that, unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to see any of the movies that he wrote about. Many of the movies were a little bit older but definitely classics. I recognized most of the titles, and I will definitely watch them as soon as I get the chance. However, I feel that my never having seen these films gives me a unique perspective. It felt like I was assessing the framework of something before viewing the final product. Reading the script initially gives me an unbiased perspective on the film, because I can judge it based purely on the words in front of me. My views aren’t swayed by extraneous factors such as marketing, cast, or special effects that inevitably comes with any Hollywood movie. So even though I have never seen the movies, reading these scripts definitely gave me some ideas about what to do with my screenplay.
My first thought as I read through “The Apartment”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, and “The Sixth Sense” was how incredibly detailed the scripts were. It may seem trivial or obvious that scripts are supposed to include such detail, but I had no idea that they were to that extent. It didn’t just include dialogue and behavior of the characters, but it also included camera angles, how wide the shot will be, or how the scene will fade in or fade out. It was written so descriptively that any person with a passing interest in film can visualize and understand the basics of what will happen if this screenplay was brought to life in a movie.
Another striking characteristic I noticed about these screenplays were the way they set the mood and tone of the movie. It may seem odd to say that pages and pages of what are, essentially, directions can emote such feeling and intensity in a reader. In the first few pages of “The Sixth Sense”, the eerie anticipation a person feels when watching a scary movie is clearly conveyed throughout the screenplay. “The Apartment” immediately sets up a tone of loneliness and anonymity in the main character. Through the narration and description of the scenes taking place inside the building as everyone is leaving while the main character stays behind allows the reader to connect with the character.
Through the scripts I read, I understood that a good script conveys emotion. A good script does not only give directions for a film, but it also gives directions for a reader to visualize the film before it ever reaches production. It tells a story through the eyes of a camera. Reading these scripts also gave me an idea of the ideal formatting a good screenplay. When I write my screenplay, I will make it as precise as possible. Of course it will not be anywhere near the standards of the scripts I read, but I understand the purpose of conveying emotion, mood, and tone. A good screenplay can stand on its own without the film.
Before reading a couple of screenplays I had a slight idea how screenplays were structured. When I was reading “Aliens” and “Godfather”, I learned a lot of things as to how one may write a screenplay. The screenplays highlighted at the WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays and David Lemon’s Seven Scripts are definitely of great significance and complexity. The amount of details exceeds the number of dialogues by far and helps readers and potential actors to imagine the settings and feelings accurately. I am fascinated by how meticulously the directors include everything that possibly has an influence in the movie in one way or another. Light, transitions, sounds, camera angles, focus all matter and take a big place in the writings. I believe this is due to the nature of the medium ‘film’, which makes an intensive use of the series of images or motion of pictures and not just focus on the dialogues or the plot. Both in “Aliens” and “Godfather” I realized that how the character is going to act is just as important as what the character is going to do/say. Through transitions, angles and setting descriptions a director can get as much specific as he/she wants to. All of these may have sometimes seemed redundant to me but taking into account how successful these films are I presume the outcome comes down to how comprehensive the screenplay is structured. Therefore, I will definitely take advantage of the diverse camera angles, transitions and descriptions because how the certain character acts in a certain situation depends on what message is to be conveyed. I am also intrigued by how broad the directors can picture a certain location such as the one in “Alien”, but I am afraid we cannot go off limits in terms of special effects and where the scenes take place. This is reasonable when comparing our low-budget movie with a sci-fi. Analyzing these screenplays enabled me to understand what I am going to pay attention to when writing the screenplay and how I can actually utilize the techniques I have learned. Even if “Life Remixed” will be something simple and straightforward I think we can create more detailed screenplays than last year’s (for instance The Bottomless Pit).
I read through parts of the movies Little Miss Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire. It was interesting to see how I was able to picture the scenes for each since I have seen Slumdog Millionaire multiple times, and I have never seen Little Miss Sunshine. Even though I hadn’t seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire in a while I could pretty much remember all of the sounds and sights just because the script is so vivid. When you haven’t seen the movie you have to create your own images of what the characters would look like and act. What I really noticed however was how extremely detailed the scripts are like I said about Slumdog Millionaire. They include outfits, angles of the camera, lines, and even facial expressions. It’s amazing how much of an image the writers are able to create for the readers. It was eye opening to see how much work goes into making a script. The writer has to completely invent the story and all the little details from his or her own brain. This is very inspiring to me to see that people can be so creative and come up with such intricate stories. Another aspect that struck me was how you have to acclimate to reading scripts. Once you get used to reading them though they move very quickly compared to traditional fictional paragraph writing. Our film will be much shorter so we have the opportunity to write really detailed screenplays. I want to be sure mine is very detailed and very succinct. I don’t want any unnecessary information in it. I want the reader to be able to read it and then have a clear picture of what I am trying to create. Comics and screenplays are really similar except comics bring the story to life in two dimensions. I think it’s important to have the screenplay be so detailed that the reader can see it like it’s a comic. Another key aspect is knowing your shot angles. I was in a media studies class last year and I was surprised at how much the shot composition really affects the mood and message of your movie. With some of the spring students’ videos I saw that there was one in particular that did not have a lot of variety. Variety is a huge part for shot composition. If you want the readers to be engaged you have the mix it up. The same thing goes for music. The music subconsciously dictates how the audience is reacting to certain characters or events in the film.
The movie scripts I read are Annie Hall, by Woody Allen, and Little Miss Sunshine. I had seen those two movies before, so it is very interesting for me to the thoughts behind the scene. Annie Hall is a comedy and the language used in this movie focuses on using irony. The main character Alvy is a strange person and his girl friend Annie also does not fall into the normal catalogue. In the movie script, Woody Allen made use of his comedian skills by using subtitles. The audiences could hear the conversation between Alvy and Annie in the movie, but also can see what they thought by watching the subtitles on the screen. For example, when Alvy said, “They’re interesting… they … they have—a—quality…” what he actually was thinking when he said this sentence is “ You are a good looking girl.” The contrast in what character said and what they really thought shed new light on the main concept of this movie. This technique of using subtitles makes this movie more attracting. Actually for me, this part of the movie is the most memorable part. I am very inspired by this and I think if I use this method in my movie, it will definitely make the movie stand out. The script for Little Miss Sunshine is a very standard and normal script. It mainly stated the movements, the acts, and the scene. It was more detailed and more substantial than the one of Annie Hall. I am surprised at how specific each scene is presented in the script of Little Miss Sunshine. The writer spends a lot of space talking about the acts of the characters rather than writing about their dialogue. For example, when the little girl was finally on stage preparing for her show, the acts of DJ was described as “ Kirby turns a volume knob into 6. He hits play. The music clearly depends on the rights. For specificity, we’ll use “Peach” by Prince.” Also, the feelings and emotions of the main characters are included in the script, so it made the reader and the actor easier to understand what the writer want to convey in a scene. I think the specificity of this script makes the movie a little boring and stiff, even though I enjoyed watching it. Since the script talked too much about everything, the actors will have less space to think on his or herself of the acting skills. While in Annie Hall, Woody Allen spends less time on specific movements than on writing conversations, the actors have more space to put acting skills into this movie, and that makes the movie very successful. On writing the script, I think I should combine both specificity and clarity, while leaving enough space for the actor to dwell on conversations.
The screenplays I read were parts from Little Miss Sunshine and Godfather series. Before these I had never really seen a screenplay although I had watched many movies. The feeling of reading a screenplay was kind of complex because it had lots of differences compared to watching the movie.
The movies are all about visual expression, which the actors and directors and all these clerks have to work together to present a real scene in front of the audience. However the screenplays are filled with words. In Little Miss Sunshine, the writer did not only describe the story but also detailed in background music, the arrangement of the scenes and the configuration of the characters. It was very elaborate and it had to be like that because it was mostly for directors and actors who are the most critical parts of plotting the scenes. Also the writer highlighted the important part of a sentence to make actors and directors pay attention to these critical parts.
The writer have to make sure that these people understand the contents perfectly and could make the scenes in the way the writer wanted. I also learned that the description about everything in a screenplay could not be unbearably long or complicated. It needed to have a focus and reveal everything in a logical order while not be short of any necessary details.
I kind of felt strange to read these things in words instead of actually seeing visually. But it was also amazing. The sentiments and the plots were presented satisfyingly and beautifully, showing me the process of story as it went and letting me imagine the scene on my own. It was much like plotting the scenes in my head and I had to take everything mentioned in the screenplays into consideration, such as the entering orders of characters, the dialogues between them and the expression on their faces. Also including the music, when it said soft music there was like a melody of piano music rising and falling near my ears. Imaginations and resonances are needed to enjoy reading a screenplay which seems to be a little more exhausting than just watching people act on the screen.
I actually read parts of both screenplays and did not finish them since they were so long. But I have got some sense about writing my own scripts. Although I have no idea what content it could be, but I know some basics about writing plays now. When I am plotting a scene, I must take every single thing under control. I will need to look the most appropriate songs for the given moment and will think carefully about every character’s physical positions and facial expressions. And I also have to write short but accurate descriptions. This could be a major challenge for me during the whole process of writing screenplays. At this point, the selections of every word and sentence need to be as much meticulous as I could because I definitely do not want the actors to be confused by my wordy contents or act in the wrong way, which could completely destroys the whole play.
A perfect movie is based on a perfect screenplay. A movie will be shot successfully only with an easily understanding and meticulously created screenplay.
After exploring many different screenplays I learned several things. I have never written a screenplay before, so reading all of these allowed me to get familiar with the proper format and elements that go into creating a successful screenplay. The parts of the screenplay that describe the scene are very descriptive and allow you to perfectly paint a picture of what is going on. Between the props, sounds and how the actors react this is all included in the written screenplay. The directors are also very precise with their camera angles. In reading the different screenplays, Slumdog Millionaire was one screenplay that specifically stuck out to me. Slumdog Millionaire has always been one of my all time favorite movies and being able to read its actual screenplay was pretty cool. One scene is describe, “Amir is trying to intercept the ball that Salim and Krishna are throwing to each other. He’s not having success. The ball flies overhead again from Salim to Krishna. Amir dives for it, misses and goes underwater…..” You as the reader are able to imagine a baseball catch going on. It is very descriptive to the point where it seems real. You are also able to feel the characters emotions and that Amir is frustrated. Another movie that I explored was Little Miss Sunshine, also because this is a movie that I love. Like most of the screenplays I read this one was pretty standard too. I found the beginning of it to be interesting. It starts by stating that five young women stand side by side waiting to be judged. A name is announced. Four hearts break. Then it describes the motion of the camera. The camera zooms across the smiles of the losers to find a winner. The credits then begin and the music is then also noted. It is quiet and melancholy. Again, the screenplay is very descriptive in all aspects of the play. In creating my screenplay I will include all of the things I learned from reading and analyzing the professional screenplays. I will make sure to include the emotion of the characters, descriptions of scene of anything that needs to be vividly portrayed, proper angles of the camera, music and much more. When creating my screenplay I may want to put my own twist to things and start in the future and have to flashback to past moments in order to give detail and fill in the gaps. I want the views to be able to feel how the characters feel, be able to connect to them and keep interest throughout the whole film. I will do this by adding sounds and music as well as many other techniques.
As an avid fan of the Indiana Jones movie series I decided to read the screenplay “Raiders of the Lost Arch.” I have seen this movie numerous times, so I figured that since I was very familiar with the movie, I wanted to see whether the screenplay was precisely like the movie I remembered. Personally, this particular movie in the Indiana Jones series is my favorites for multiple reasons. One, there is always tons of action, but here it takes place in the desert in dunes of Egypt. Second, his opposition in the movie are the Nazis and their archeologists that are trying to find the Arch used in the Holy Temple. I find these two characteristics of the movie to be quite captivating and seem very fit together, even though when you think of Nazis, you think of Germany and Europe, not Egypt.
After reading this screenplay, I actually fully understood why screenplays are so crucial for a movie and how everything comes into play. I didn’t know that screenplays also included the actions and position the actors had to be in. Reading this made me more aware of what was going on and the importance of each position that the actor was in. What I noticed as I was reading this particular screenplay is that while reading it, I envisioned the scenes in my head and they all seemed precise like the movie with Harrison Ford.
The experience of reading a screenplay was a much different experience than watching the actual movie. To me, I feel, even though there are no pictures in the document like a movie, the notion of “show, not tell” is emphasized when writing a screenplay. This is because, essentially, you are outlining the whole movie on paper for the actors and characters to play their part. Reading this was more like reading an actual book that was very descriptive about setting and placement, but when watching movies, you hardly think about the importance of where a character is standing or his/her facial expression.
After reading such a document, I truly have more respect for screenwriters, as well as actors because of the precise performance they must act out during movies. For screenwriters, it is extremely difficult to even imagine how much thought and detail goes into a movie, especially like “The Raiders of the Lost Arch.” You hardly ever hear about the screenwriters when a movie premieres, but they definitely deserve more credit for their arduous work. Actors, too, are overlooked for their efforts in projecting and preforming to other peoples’ work. A lot of the time you only hear about the bad that is going on with them like drug problems, family issues, and other negative gossip, but not how they try hard to act out a character. You hardly ever hear about that, which is kind of upsetting.
Overall, I think the experience of reading any screenplay is much more different than actually watching the same movie. In my opinion, the screenplays are more descriptive even though they lack imagines like movies do.
To get the effect of two very different types of movie scripts, I chose to read a comedy, The Princess Bride, and a drama, Slumdog Millionaire. Both were very insightful and both helped me grasp the idea of a movie script and how I could use them to create my own.
What I found interesting was how detailed my depictions were as I read through the scripts. Unlike in a novel, sentences were in short fragments that represented each shot, scene cuts are quickly abbreviated, etc. all of which allow shots and scenes to flow smoothly as you read which was just really interesting to realize.
Another inspiring aspect of the movie scripts was surprisingly how much detail the writers put into it. For example, in the Slumdog Millionaire script the writer was depicting a scene where a man was flipping through television channels, and the writer even wrote out what was playing on each of the channels before the man got to the right one. Of course, something like that would be very limited in our scripts, but the idea that the scripts are full of so much detail was very inspiring.
What I also found interesting was how informal the scripts can be. I remember learning that producers will throw out a writer’s script if it isn’t formatted correctly. Knowing this, I assumed the scripts had to be completely straightforward and organized. I did observe that they were very organized. This made seamless navigation and cut time spent on transitioning words and phrases. However, they were also quite flexible. What I mean is the writer is free to write descriptions that are completely abstract. For example, in Slumdog Millionaire the author was describing a small village writing, “if you didn’t live here, you would be frightened”, which is something you can’t obviously depict in a shot. At first I was a little confused by these statements, but what I came to realize is that the scripts are not only tools used for a director like some sort of manual or guide, they are pieces of literary work. The flexibility of the scripts format is there so it can’t limit the author’s imagination.
Some parts are so flexible they are even informal. For example, in the opening of The Princess Bride script, the writer described a boy in bed writing, he was “one sick cookie” which made me laugh because it was so informal, but like I mentioned before, the scripts are not solely tools to the directors. Descriptions like “one sick cookie” add to the overall mood of the scene, which is important for the readers. This kind of description can be paralleled to that of a book. Though informal, both set a mood for the scene.
What I learned from these scripts that will guide me with my own is that strict format is merely used to easy transitions and flowing scenes so imagination and flexibility are not limited. In addition, abstract or informal ideas can also have an interesting insight on the scripts, too.
The first script I read was from Back to the Future. It was very interesting to me. I never realized how detailed and in depth the scripts were. It's as if you are reading the story in a book or novel rather than a screenplay. The characters are all described to a T and you could picture the whole story taking place right in front of you even if you were not watching the movie. For example, when describing Marty, the script says, " a good looking kid who has an air of confidence just shy of cockiness. He’s wearing a silver Porsche jacket, and like most typical modern day kids, not a stitch of his clothing is without some brand name or form of advertising". This description is very eloquent and in depth and even without seeing Marty on the screen, we know what he looks and acts like and exactly how to picture his character. In addition, it is similar with the teacher Professor Brown. He is described as, "late 60’s, is tinkering with a device that looks like a Solar Cell, positioning it under a skylight to catch the sun’s rays. He is eccentric, moody, but basically kindly. And very involved in his work." Like Marty, the writing in the script is detailed and eloquent on its own, without even the aid of the movie itself. This does make sense, however, because in order for the viewers to get the full effect of the characters and take away the vision that the writer had for exactly how they should look, act, and be portrayed, the descriptions must be very detailed. That way, even when the viewers don't have the script in front of them, they can still get the same effect from the movie scene visually as they would have gotten from reading the script on paper. This script in particular shows this done very well and effectively. When I write my own movie script, I will strive to script extremely well developed characters so that my movie can successfully portray the characters I had envisioned in the scene. In addition, I also read the script for Slumdog Millionaire, a favorite of mine. In this script, I noticed particularly well detailed and described set up for the scenes. The extreme detail allows you to picture exactly where the scene is occuring and exactly what is going on in that place. Similarly to well developed characters, it is important for a movie script to have well developed scenes. The viewers must be able to take away what is being portrayed and what is going on as if they were reading it right from the script. So the extreme detail is important to convey the writer's vision for how the scene looks and plays out. In addition to good character development, when I write my script for class, I will attempt to write detailed scene development to make sure my visions for the scenes are carried out in the film and portrayed correctly to the audience of viewers.
On going through the screenplays featured in the WGA’s 101 greatest screenplays and David Lemon’s Seven Scripts Every Write Should Read I made two observations. The first being the detailed description of each scene, which helped in easy visualization of what the movie would look like only by reading the script. My second observation was the different aspects in which the description focused on whether it was the external things going around the characters or the directions to help the actors get into the situation of the character better. The script that inspired me was ‘Back To The Future’ written by Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale. The script was well detailed and helped in easy visualization however it did not focus as much on the directions to followed by the actors which I feel would help the actor be creative enough to explore what they would like to portray the character of the script rather than being directed through it. This inspired me, as I would like to use the dialogues more than stage directions in my script giving the actor the flexibility to decide what to do. The second script I read was slum dog millionaire even though I have seen the movie it took me a little time to catch on as it seemed confusing initially with multiple scenes running parallel. However going through the script of a movie that I have already seen was a bit fascinating as I could relate the scenes on the script to what I had actually seen. Which gave me a bit of an insight to what goes into making a movie. The script of slumdog millionare was much more descriptive of the surroundings which is what I would like to inculcate in my script as it gave a feel of where the people where and what was happening around them, which I feel helps in making the actor better acquainted to his role. The third one I read was from WGA’s 101 greatest screenplays, which was All about Eve. Since this was just an extract I couldn’t get much of what the screenplay was about but the part that I read through gave a detailed description of the emotions and actions of the characters. By going through these three screenplays they have given me a better understanding of what I would like my five-minute movie’s screenplay to be like. I want the screenplay to be detailed about what’s happening around in the backgrounds and want the dialogues to be powerful to leave a lasting impression. I don’t want to put much emphasis on the directions to be given to the actor so they are flexible enough to decide what they want to do based on the surroundings and circumstances given.
I read the screenplay for Frank Darabont’s Shawshank Redemption. This movie is a classic, and it is highly accredited; it is rated among the top movies in history by various sources. In this film, a woman and her lover is murdered by someone, and the weapon of choice is discarded into the river. The police investigation turns up the woman’s husband as her murderer - which is a false accusation as her husband did not kill her. Trial comes around and Andy Dufresne is found guilty of murder by the jury, and he is sentenced to two life sentences in the notorious Shawshank state prison. This is when the real story starts. Within a month of his arrival, he meets Ellis Redding, also known as “Red,” someone who would be his accomplice throughout the movie. Red runs a contraband inside the prison, retrieving things from the outside that others want or need in exchange for the prison’s currency - cigarettes. Andy asks for a rock hammer from Red, claiming that he is a rock sculpting enthusiast. Andy also asks for a poster of Rita Hayworth in his cell. Red is able to obtain both of Andy’s requests, and both are delivered to him. All the while that he is in the prison, Andy is doing all the financial work for all of the guards and the warden Samuel Norton. During this time, Andy creates a bank account at several different banks under the name Randall Stephens - a made-up name. One night, the warden asks Andy to shine his shoes and put his suit in the dry cleaning for him before going to bed. In the morning, the guards take roll only to find that Andy is missing; he has escaped through a hole in the wall excavated by his rock hammer and disguised by his poster. He had taken the warden’s suit and shoes with him, and that morning he collected his sums at each bank account, collecting over $370,000 and then moved to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. What I really admire about this film is Andy’s persistence and his drive. Andy knows that he did not kill his wife and her lover (though he may have wanted to), but rather than insisting to the others of his innocence, he devises a plan that will allow him to bring justice upon himself with his work only. Andy worked hard at his scheme for years, and through many hardships, he never gave up hope. Finally one day it all payed off for him, proving a very important life lesson. Things may be of an inconvenience for you at the moment, or things may not be going your way, but rather than sulking about it, you must push yourself to counter your hardships and get through the tough times. Another thing I admire about this film is one of the darkest parts of the film: when Brooks kills himself. It is actually a realistic outcome of a released prisoner being contained as long as he was.
As I was going through the movies featured in the David Lemon, LA Screenwriter site. The movie Little Miss Sunshine stood out to me. I've easily watched this movie over five times and every time died of laughter. Reading the script was interesting and very distinctive than watching the film. At first glance I couldn't even tell if it was the same film. Unlike the movie itself the script doesn't have the same humor and emotions. I never realized how much detail was actually put into the script, for instance the facial appearance and mood is all incorporated into the script. However, I don't feel like the script can fully grasp the emotions through the words "sad, gloomy music" as opposed to in the actual filming where there is sad, gloomy music playing. The screenplay definitely is captures the total plot of the movie. It is not just a write up of the mere dialogue between characters, as I honestly previously thought it was, but rather a much deeper script of all the interactions and background features happening in the film. It was interesting looking at the Little Miss Sunshine script in particular because I recall laughing so much from this movie when watching the finished product but while reading the script I didn't find many of the humorous scenes as funny as the would be because there is just something different about reading a facial expression versus actually visualizing it. Another difference I found noteworthy between scripts and writing a book was that scripts don't use as descriptive language and terms like a novel would. For instance, in the script the actions that are in parenthesis are very vague and dull such as (stands up) and (patient) rather than in a novel it would say shyly stands up slowly or use some kind of eloquent diction.
I read through various scripts to get a feel of the differences that exist from script to script. What stood out to me is the level of detailed that all the scripts contained. Initially, I was a little oblivious to what was all contained within a script. I just thought a script would just contain the words of the actors. Nothing more or nothing less. Every word, gesture, and even down to the environment details was put in the script. This shorts the importance of the script in the creation process. In a way, reading through the script was like reading a set of blueprints. Mentally, I formed the scene in my head as I read it and manipulated objects into place as the script dictated. By the end, I had a complete mental image in my head of what the scene should look like. For my movie creation, I want to ensure that my script has this level of detail. I feel that if the script is good enough to give an accurate mental image then there should be very little problems turning that mental image into an actual production using actors.
Overall, I found script reading as a refreshing new perspective in film creation. It showed me the importance of organization. While I found the experience of reading screen writes to be somewhat entertaining it is probably not a hobby I would pick up long term. The level of details given in a script kind of turns script reading into a passive reading. To me, it makes the story a not very flexible to the reading. Also, the level of detail really slows down the plot. I was reading from stories that I already knew and was a little bit surprised to realize that after 30 minutes of reading, I haven’t made it very far with all this detail.
I took a particularly close look at the screenplay for "To Kill a Mockingbird." I have both read the book and seen the movie before, and it was interesting to see how the director and actors saw the movie. The emotions were all laid out and specified for every character in every line. The scenes were outlined with precise details about the set appearance and the camera angles. The text was kept to the minimum, holding significance behind every direction. There is no fluff in the screenplay, but only information that is absolutely necessary for capturing the envisioned image. It surprised me how little each character says at a time. There were no long monologues, but rather short meaningful statements to move the story along. When reading the book, information about the inner thoughts of the characters are presented and detailed sequences of events that do not need to be explained in the movie due to the visual component are portrayed through words. I think it is better to keep the lines shorter, not only because it is easier for the actor to remember, but also because it makes the scene move faster and keeps the viewer intrigued and on his or her toes. The screenplay for “To Kill a Mockingbird” has given me some ideas about my project. I will most likely use smaller phrases and clearly specify camera angles in my screenplay, making it easier to turn into a final product. In order to have a successful movie, I believe the screenplay has to contain every specific detail, but no extra unimportant information. It will be interesting trying to find the perfect balance between constructional stage directions and overwhelming superfluous details.
As I went through the lists on WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays and David Lemon’s Seven Scripts Every Writer Should Read, I chose titles of movies that I either never seen but were familiar with or movies I have already viewed. I chose unfamiliar movie screenplays to use as a trailer. I chose screenplays of movies I’ve seen to compare screenplay to silver screen. On WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays, I read Casablanca and The Godfather, both of which I have never seen. Casablanca was not as descriptive of a screenplay in regards to surroundings; however, the emotional description was powerful. I felt the hurt Ilsa was experiencing as she was contemplating the thought of leaving Rick for Victor. It contained her subtext that should be evident on her face and body language on screen to help the viewer visualize her feelings and thoughts. In The Godfather, there was a strong imagery created from the very beginning. There was the oversized bed and the soft light hitting the scene with a person under the covers. There was an instant build of suspense as I was reading the description of Woltz feeling around his bed, searching for the source of the wetness. This scene’s only dialogue is a scream, yet, there is so much of the story being told from the pure descriptive text of the screenplay. I was scared as I was reading this because I thought of myself in Woltz’s position and I know his panicked state would be exactly how I would react in a situation like that. On David Lemon’s Seven Scripts Every Writer Should Read, I chose Slumdog Millionaire, a movie I have already seen. As I was going through the pages, I could visualize every scene clearly in my head. From the endless amounts of rupee notes in the tub to Amir sleeping on the bare mattress, the screenplay allowed the scenes to be specific, yet open to interpretation. Albeit my prior knowledge of screenplays from previous drama classes, I was inspired to create a screenplay that contains very specific and descriptive details but also contains the flexibility for the director of the movie to mold it into his or her original version. Although I want flexibility, I do not want complete freedom within the screenplay. I want the actors and directors to perform how I envisioned the movie to be. As Fun Home was made into a Broadway show, Alison Bechdel said, “I feel like they get at something more essentially accurate than I was able to do. They understood the emotional backbone of the story better than I did, which was disturbing.” (Thomas) For the director and actors to capture the emotions I might have not fully figured out would be amazing to witness on screen. There would be more depth within the movie, minimizing the cut and dry script. The flexibility could result to several different films conveying the same underlying message and incorporating similar elements.
Thomas, June. "Fun Home: Is America Ready for a Musical About a Butch Lesbian?" Slate Magazine. N.p., 9 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.
I’ve always been interested in and intrigued by movies, especially movies of some directors who have distinguishing features and charming characteristics. For instance, Quentin Tarantino, The Wachowskis, Woody Allen, Ang Lee, Karwai Wong are all my favorite directors, but only a few of them write their own screenplays. Taking a look at the 101 list on WGA and David Lemon’s Seven Scripts Every Writer Should Read let me to have deeper insight into how a movie works and how a good movie starts from a good script than I used to do. What inspired me most is that the structure of the movie determined by the script is so important and the enormous details in the script depict what kind of subtle feelings that a director really wants.
I read through Pulp Fiction by Quentin, Alien by James and The Wizard of Oz by Noel, and I think there is no better example than Quentin’s script of Pulp Fiction to illustrate my point. Talking about Pulp Fiction, the “ringlike structure” and multi-angle depiction of the story are the highlights of the movie or of the screenplay. “Ringlike structure” refers to the fact that all different part of the movie does not have a traditional end and beginning, rather, they “meet and mix” with each other, and come together in the end through time. Reading through the script, I think the structure is not only intriguing itself as a way of telling a story but also being used by the director to imply the full circle, ceaseless repeating of violence again and again in every corner of the world, which also reflects what happens in the real world. As for multi-angle depiction of the story, it’s more important to talk about the characters. Other than observing an event from different angles, it also refers to the change of roles that characters play in different environment and situation, mingling with the philosophy of deconstruction.
For instance, in the part of story of Vincent and Mia, as the protagonist, Vincent plays more like a positive role in accompanying, pleasing and protecting Mia. However, in the story of Butch as a boxing man, Vincent was killed anonymously without knowing what was happening. If we see the story separately, the roles Vincent played had virtually no similarities. Also, when Jules was killing people mercilessly in the apartment with Vincent, he’s playing the “bad guy”. However, in the end of the movie when Jules met Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, instead of a killer, Jules tends to be more like a “Saviour”. This way of multi-angle depiction shows that every character in the story has a specific “when, why and how” when participating in the story, and at different time or situation, their roles are different, as we are in real life.
The specific details referring to American pop culture and the iconic dialogues in the screenplay are also very interesting and contribute a lot to the success of Pulp Culture, but the structure of the story and what is implied by that special structure are what I think most meaningful in the screenplay of Quentin.
I read the scripts of two movies: The Dark Knight and Rocky. I read the Dark Knight script because it is my favorite movie of all-time, and I really enjoy the way writer Christopher Nolan brought the movie to life. I decided to read the Rocky script after coming across it on WGA’s top 101 movies list. Reading the Dark Knight and Rocky screenplays allowed me to appreciate the effort and detail that goes into producing a movie in such an excellent fashion as the Dark Knight and Rocky producers did. Prior to reading those scripts, I was under the impression that scripts only focus on the actual words and dialogue of a movie. I was absolutely wrong. I learned that movie scripts include everything from descriptions of characters and their expressions to detailed imagery of a scene’s foreground and background.
My newfound understanding of what makes up a proper screenplay has inspired me to create a movie that is a complete, whole production. By ‘complete, whole production’, I mean that I will aim to create an all-around film/screenplay that does not lack in areas that may be easy to overlook. For example, when filming a scene, I will make sure to be conscious of which camera angle would be most suitable in maximizing the set. In the Rocky screenplay, I noticed that even the scenes in which Rocky Balboa, the main character, is the focus, the screenplay includes great detail in regards to the appearance and actions of minor characters and extras in the background. Additionally, the Dark Knight and Rocky screenplays taught me not to underestimate the ability of minor props and seemingly shallow comments to substantially affect a scene and convey a message. The Dark Knight contains many subtle lines that seem insignificant at first, but then have their importance revealed later in the movie. Similarly, Rocky’s screenplay has many minor props and small quotes that are used to portray Rocky’s character and financial predicament.
The screenplays have also inspired me to put as much effort and direction as I possibly can into my screenplay so that filming will be easier. As I read the screenplays, I could not only picture the scenes, but I could also picture the characters’ expressions and actions and even get a feel for the mood of the scenes. By making my screenplay as descriptive and thorough as possible, I will be able to film with much more ease. The script should serve as a guide. My screenplay will tell the cameraman which angles to shoot from. It will explicitly describe the characters’ expressions and actions so that the actors will not struggle with understanding the character they’re attempting to portray. My screenplay will also include prop placement and scene details that contribute to the story. Ultimately, I believe a good screenplay should be able to fully tell the movie’s story without any visual and that the actual filming process should only be the screenplay being put into motion, rather than it adding things that weren’t in the script.
Reading over the WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays list was very entertaining, I was able to see a lot of acclaimed movies and learn of new ones that I should take note of. I have personally have never seen a professional movie script, so having the opportunity to observe some would be of my extreme fascination. From David Lemon’s Seven Scripts Every Writer Should Read I haven't watched them all, but I had seen Slumdog Millionaire, little miss sunshine, Back To The Future and Aliens. For me the one that stood out, and the one that I had to read was the script of Aliens. The writing process of making a script is very different to the vision that I had. Everything is depicted in such a clear manner, transitions, camera angles, noises, positions, etc. I could see the film in my head rolling as if I was in the movie theater watching it. This script properly depicts the movie and it's potential when one reads it. It's visual essence is represented spectacularly when you read the script. One feels the eerie mood, the sci-fi atmosphere and the heart raising beat of the movie all in written form. It's something all very new to me, but it gives me new light and direction into what I will be producing in my short film. Obviously we can't possibly compare to the great works that have been made from these featured length films, but we can make our best attempts at making it a great short film. Keeping in mind the use of camera angles, perspective, sound, environment, wardrobe, emotions, language among others. Trying to recreate to the best of my abilities what I have taken from these great screenplays.
Before this class, I had never read a screen play before. But after reading one, I'm throughly impressed by how much detail goes into them. Everything is planned so well and there is so so much in depth description that you feel as though you are pretty much there.
I noticed while looking at the screenplays that the scripts are very essential to any screenplays. By looking at some examples I could see that the scripts are the basic foundation that makes up the screenplay. As an example, I saw “Apartments” and it really had lots of story inside the story. The script was not only dramatic but also ironic and had lots of twists. Some scripts also included comedy. I also saw that most of the scripts were famous movies that I watched. By looking at the scripts, I could vision the movie when I was reading the script. Also, when I was reading the script I could see that there were capitalized letters and other instructions even to the slightest instructions. I got a glimpse of what my script would have to look like.
Even though millions of people are avid movie watchers, I think that a majority of them do not know the importance or structure of screenplays. By reading through several of the scripts and screenplays, I was able to learn a lot more about the movies and what goes into them that I didn’t previously know. The way the screenplays were written painted a very clear picture of the characters and plot, almost as if the screenplays were telling a story from a book. Some of the things that I thought particularly contributed to this effect were the levels of detail put into the screenplays and the linear narration style encompassing said details. That said, I think that the screenplays also left a lot of room for the actors and actresses to follow along yet add their own flair to the script. I was able to gain a better appreciation for movies through reading the scripts because they really demonstrated how much work and pre-thought goes into movie making. Even though I was not able to make it through the whole screenplay of the ones I read, I was able to gain a pretty good idea of what I will need to do for my movie. Reading the screenplays inspired me to model my mini-movie after them and got my creative flow working. Furthermore, I gained from this assignment a meticulous eye for the level of detail in the scripts and an understanding that a movie can only be good if it has a good screenplay.
While browsing through the one hundred greatest scripts of all time, I began to realize something about all the movies I have watched on the list. All of these movies were not only phenomenal but also riveting. The movies did not just make you interested but made you feel a certain a way. I believe this is what separates a good movie from a great movie. The scripts do not necessarily have to be incredibly intricate but they must stir the mind.
I really enjoyed reading the script of Godfather Part II. Personally, I love the Godfather trilogy and think that the scripts are tremendous (maybe not so much in Godfather Part III). One begins to understand the life of an American mobster. You see the emotion from these gangsters that you would never imagine they have. In the script, you see the unparalleled love that the mobsters have towards their family. Though money and respect are the reasons behind the violence the mobsters resort to, they work so courageously because of the unity and love of family. I feel that The Godfather Part II script, allows anyone regardless of their background relate and feel as if they are in such a family.
Another script that I really took a liking to is the Slumdog Millionaire script. Watching the movie was an exceptional experience in itself. Reading the script, however, is by far stupendously more satisfying. The idea behind the script is absolutely genius. The amount of detail in the script is remarkable. One may hear of or imagine the slums of India but the script puts you there. You can see the starving children, smell the rotting trash, and hear the yelps of fear. The story shares similarities to the Great Gatsby. The protagonist in the Great Gatsby did not seek fortune in an attempt to please his own selfish reasons. He sought it to give his lover the best life possible. He wanted her to be happier than any girl in the world. In Slumdog Millionaire, the protagonist does the same thing. He wants to be successful more so for his lover opposed to himself. I think this makes a character more honorable. It allows the audience to adore the character. I believe this is why both Slumdog Millionaire and Great Gatsby are so successful and acclaimed.
Something that intrigued me was that Back to the Future was on the David Lemon's list. Generally, comedies are not as acclaimed as dramas, horrors, action, etc. Thus, for Back to the Future to be on the list the script has to be astoundingly amazing. Watching the Back to the Future movie is completely different than reading the script. In my opinion, the script is much better. This is saying something considering that the film was rather exceptional. Reading the script made me realize how good the film is.
Another script that I thought was stellar is the To Kill a Mockingbird script. The novel is so deep and impeccable. Thus, a script would be incredibly difficult. I feel that Horton Foote did a fabulous job in creating it. The movie is not as good as the book but it is still marvelous.
This was a spring 2015 forum. We mostly used our Facebook group for discussion forum.