Fortnightly Update: Week 4

Update by: Sam Glover, Andrew McGlade, Liam Morkham and Marco Holden Jeffery

Weeks 3 and 4 built upon the foundations of world-building that were established during the first two weeks of the studio – focusing deeper into understanding the concept of world and the boundaries, constraints and properties that assist in forming and structuring them. Through a series of practical exercises alongside contextually relevant theory such as screenplays readings of Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, 2008) and Up (Pixar, 2009), as well as the academic article “Writing the Screenplay”, An excerpt by C. Batty from Graeme Harper’s “A Companion to Creative Writing” (2013). These readings, alongside practical activities, should assist us in creating future assessments reflecting a high level of understanding and awareness of world-building.

During Week 3 we were also tasked with transposing our still image stories created in a prior practical task in Week 2 into a prose-style story (although some chose to interpret this as more of a synopsis) for the purpose of further developing the worlds’ we created, while also flexing our writing muscles and discussing our self-perceived strengths and weaknesses with our peers. In a lot of the work we produced this week, Stayci was impressed with how the studio members excelled at accurately and thoroughly describing the detail of their said world.

A key point that seemed to resonate with all of us during Week 3 – specifically while discussing Frozen River and its tightly woven exposition-centric script – was that in many cases, especially in film and other visual forms of narrative, the presentation of information of characters through means other than dialogue lead to a more developed and multi-faceted narrative and moments – rather than using exposition that felt forced and unnatural. For example, we spent a long time discussing the significance of the main character smoking a cigarette in the cold of her car during Frozen River’s opening scene; what seems like such a small detail actually cleverly defines said character and sets a particular tone for the world we’re about to enter.

In week 4, our exploration of screenplays continued through our viewings of the opening sequences of Up, as well as Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” (1960). We later attempted to draft a screenplay for a (very well-known) scene from Up, and many of us found our pieces often accurately incorporated elements that were used in the actual screenplay. However, we found that despite our ability to capture these worlds, we were not able to do as concisely as the professional, experienced screenwriters whose works we examined. There was a mutual agreement based on reading the screenplays that concise and visceral descriptive choice of wording in screenplay was at the epicenter of good screenplay and without this, all future additions and layering such as the above listed visual and stylistic choices would be much harder to conceive. A single sentence in a screenplay can change the tone of a story world drastically, shedding new light and creating a new perspective on the existing story; every sentence, therefore, deserves thorough thought in the writing process and serious unpacking throughout a screenplay’s examination.

For example, in the Up screenplay, the single line “He is lucky to have her” not only defines the perceived internal and external relationship between Carl and Ellie, but also positions the entire sequence as taking place from Carl’s perspective; when things happen, we as an audience are supposed to feel the emotions he feels, and react as he does.

Week 4 also had us endeavour to focus more on our own prior visitations on what each of us believed to be robust and uniquely alluring worlds – screening these at the conclusion of our final class for the week. Ranging from video game trailers (Grand Theft Auto), stories of coming-of- age and mid-life crisis (American Beauty), audio pieces (The Seabirds – The Triffids), to more uniquely explorative world's (Dan’s visual piece with vacant audio then followed by black metal music). Each example was equally valid as the others in the submitter’s eyes, as our class has reached a universal understanding at this point in time that worlds are malleable by the auteurs and progenitors of these pieces; and as audiences and viewers, we begin to conceive both the contents and boundaries of these worlds through what we hear, see, and are shown.

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