I cannot believe this semester is ending! I am genuinely really sad to be finishing the Picture This studio. :'(
Before starting this class, I had never considered the practice of screenwriting before. Truth be told, I had absolutely no idea what ‘audio/visual storytelling’ was and was rather intimidated by it.
Despite this, I am pleasantly surprised with how much I loved the studio and I am kind of proud of my final script.
The last two weeks of revision have probably been the hardest part of writing and I am realising now that nothing is ever completely ‘done’. There are words that could be rewritten 100 times and never be perfect.
There is a sentence in my big print that had many reactions when I asked various people for feedback; ‘Emma watches Noah, as if she has just seen a celebrity.’
It was a conscious decision to include a simile as I had read Claudia Sternberg’s ‘Written For The Screen’ and liked the idea of an ‘as-if clause’ to “substantiate moods and emotions,” (1997, p 87). It allowed me to comment on the character’s personality without having to make any notes or direct the actor too specifically*.
A friend suggested that I could say exactly the same thing by rewording the sentence to: “Emma watches Noah- starstruck”. And to be honest, she is exactly right. Both those sentences probably evoke the same imagery in the reader’s mind. However, I personally like the longer sentence as I think it is more ‘me’… although even now I am debating it.
The idea that there are multiple ways to say the same thing hit me quite abruptly. Even though I had spent hours trying to get each sentence as close to perfect as possible, it probably did not matter come shooting time. “They stare longingly at each other” (draft 3) and “They stare into each other’s eyes” (final copy) did not change the moment in the final film… it just pleased Robert McKee more.
In saying that, I do think that the format and language used in a screenplay is super important for gauging pace and genre. As Sternberg says, “it is upon the imagistic suggestions of the screenplay, through the writer’s selection of words, that the film will develop its tone and timbre,” (1997, p 90).
This is perhaps the most important lesson I have learnt during this class. That the supposed ‘rules’ of screenwriting are more like suggestions, and that it is actually how we break the rules that give the screenplay its ‘flavour’ and unique voice. I love how the WAY we write audio visual storytelling can sometimes say more than the words themselves.
Going forward with screenwriting, and if I was to write my screenplay again, I would think a lot more about exposition. Just this week I saw McKee’s quote, “you do not keep the audience’s interest by giving it information, but by withholding information, except that which is absolutely necessary for comprehension,” (1997, p 336).
Applying that to my final screenplay, I do wonder if the text messages were a little too expository. If I was to start again, I would love to be able to show what was said in the text messages without using words.
In future, I would love to develop my own ‘voice’ with writing, by selecting which screenwriting ‘rules’ I want to standby or break. It would also be interesting to attempt to write contrasting genres and multiple characters… but that is for another time.
*NB. As an actor, I LOVE ‘as-if clauses’ in screenplays, just saying.
Link to video (doesn’t quite look like I wanted it to but a professional cast, crew and editor may have helped with that oops🙈)
McKee, R 1997, Story: a Guide to Screenwriting, 1st edn, ReganBooks, New York, NY.
Sternberg, C 1997, Written for the Screen, Stauffenburg Verlag Brigitte Narr GmbH, Tübingen, Germany.