What Makes a World? Notes From Class


political structures

setting (and, we agreed, this is a wide category in itself)

boundaries (which relates to setting and character backstories)

character backstory as tool for exploring limitations and responses to world >>> Boundaries of the world

rules (internal logic)

genre (which affects the way you present the world and also the rules of it)

social constructs

political structures


pressure/outside forces

scope of characters

problems e.g. post apocalyptic

On the Run

For my piece I chose to write about the development of our photo story exercise into prose form prior to scripting.

On the Run

The sun hits her hand harshly, splaying its image against the wall. The shadow gives her a sense of freedom, as though she isn’t there right now. She’s on the other side of that wall, waving hello at a stranger. Looking at her hand, she notices her wedding band and the illusion of freedom dissipates. She knows where she is and why she’s here. She clenches her fist and begins to move.

The need to get away consumes her every fiber as she runs for the nearest staircase. A glimmer of hope.

But the stairs, and everywhere else she goes, prove to be endless, leading her through the labyrinth to no end, only a wall. A wall she cannot enter, or at least as far as the CONSTRUCTION IN PROGRESS sign tells her.

Once through she finds herself in the same predicament, she tries every route she can. An inconspicuos ladder, a potted plant. But the cameras seem to follow her whereever she goes. His agents seem to be at every corner, blocking her path to freedom. She can see the exit is just down the end of this alley. Before the agents notice her, she quickly ducks into a crevice in the wall, just big enough to be cloaked in shadow. The coast is very nearly clear, so she decides to make her move. After all, her path will never be crystal clear.

Guards and agents litter the path ahead. She creeps past the first one, her evasive actions almost alerting the second one to her presence. She cinches along the wall, barely touching shadow, hoping they all remain unaware. She tries desperately not to make a sound, but the ridiculousness of what she’s trying to achieve comes back to bite her, and the alarm is raised. She sprints for her life towards the exit as her husband’s men, chase after her shouting,
“he just wants to talk!”
“sure he does…” she replies under her breath.

She makes it to the door and runs through to find her son, happy she made the right decision to leave him.

I really think that the mood and tone work well in this piece. The description, or what would effectively be the big text of a script, works well through its style and specific word description to convey the atmosphere of the piece.

However, certain details confuse the mood and tone, as they go against the very generic, thematic and genre convention based aesthetics of the writing. The writing conveys a very sensationalist tone, I’ll be it in a semi-sarcastic way, but it still resembles the written style of something like James Bond, as opposed to a story centred around domestic abuse. Mixing the spectacular and fantastical with a very serious concept creates a strange mix that doesn’t seem to belong together.

There are, however, versions of this kind of spectacle genre mixed with serious issues, such as Kill Bill (volume 1 particularly), so the serious issues, if further developed, could be portrayed believably and with justice to larger issues at hand.

Another issue with this piece is spatial reasoning. Often, while reading this piece I can’t seem to place myself visually within the world. I can understand the characters and their perspectives or actions, but there seem to be jumps in time and space as the prose moves through the character descriptions and into descriptions of the world around them. As this is the precursor to the script, jumps in logic, especially when it comes to the visual nature of spatial reasoning, hinder the smoothness and flow of the story.

As we proceeded to the next phase of this exercise and wrote a screenplay of our chosen photo story, I found that the spacial reasoning improved, as I was thinking more visually, especially in terms of how the script would translate to the screen.

Over all this exercise was really interesting and provided a sort of foundation for where scripts come from and where they sit in the creative world. The big text of the script is essentially a more concise version of the prose above, emphasising a script’s ability to tell a story, while also being placed in a more visual, conventional and technical sphere.

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

Collaboration in Creative Practice

Drawing on an experience of collaborating within the studio, discuss this quote: “I always find that if two (or more) of us throw ideas backwards and forwards I get to more interesting and original places than I could have ever have gotten to on my own” (Cleese, John 1991 A lecture on creativity, – 27:20mins).

Collaboration. The life blood of creative practice. Without collaboration, many ideas wouldn’t have the space to develop. The freedom to grow in a sort of ‘no strings attached’ environment. A place where ideas can fly without consequences. That being said, it can often be dominated by louder voices.

During the collaborative task around the short film I’ll Wait for the Next One (Orreindy, 2002)I have found this quote to be mostly true. During this exercise, in which we were asked to develop the world and expand it beyond the possible inciting incident shown in the short film, I found that each of us and our ideas had much more freedom. We didn’t feel the need to live up to the critical voice in our heads, telling us we ‘couldn’t write that’ or that something was ‘stupid’. Instead the act of collaboration encouraged us to freely create.

That being said, I found that my ideas constantly came to the forefront whether good or bad, in comparison to the other ideas. Perhaps that had something to do with the way my mind works, often insular thinking that blurts out in its frequently bombastic and driven nature, derailing the current stream of thought and jumping onto the next one. Often breaking form and going on very strange tangents and down rabbit holes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my ‘monkey’ brain is somehow too strange to work ‘properly’ in terms of idea generation, more that when it comes to creative collaboration, my tangential thinking tends to make the loudest impact, which can often hinder the art of collaboration as not all voices are heard the same, and can often be unintentionally drowned out.

Collaboration can often be like the virality of media. Clinging onto the ideas only when they stick out, catch our attention and become popular, no matter the shelf life of the idea. So many good ideas fall to the wayside, because the fact is, there are limitless numbers of them. It can often be hard, especially in collaboration, to find and stick to an idea, as every creative individual involved knows only too well how a great idea, while once attractive can turn sour, and the disposable nature of ideas is revealed.

To be honest, this is a very cynical image of collaboration. It describes more what lies under the surface of all group work – combating egos, perspectives and understandings. This is not to say that the surface isn’t valuable and enjoyable. That what goes on around you, when these individual-centric ideas don’t cloud the practice. When you are truly collaborating, you are in the thick of a mess of ideas, positivity and sparks flying everywhere. The truest form of creative inspiration and creative freedom.

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

Frozen River: A Script Analysis

Reflect upon an influential text (e.g. a reading, or a screening) you encountered during the studio, and discuss it in terms of your own developing practice. This might be (but not limited to), how it introduced you to new ideas. Or, how it changed or reinforced your previous ways of working. Or, how it inspired you to begin thinking about your ideas for the final project.

For our class reading in week three, we were given the script for Frozen River (Hunt, 2008). Frozen River is the first feature written and directed by Courtney Hunt.

During our analysis, we (as in the class) found that the film showed its exposition in a very organic way. Quite seamlessly. In our discussion around this realisation, we found that the reason behind this was that the script starts off with an event. It starts with the day that the rest of their home is arriving, but an issue is brought up immediately between the mother and the son – the father took the money for the house. As she puts it, “he’ll be in Atlantic City by now,” revealing that the father is in fact a gambler. This event establishes the immediate need for the characters. They need money so they can have a complete home, and therefore a complete life and family. The need for the mother to achieve this is emphasised even further as each scene deliberately marks the father’s absence from the family’s life, making her the sole ‘bread winner’.

It was most interesting comparing the script with the film, especially since Hunt both wrote the script and directed the film. The film was lacking compared to the script, which is something you don’t often find. The opening shots don’t seem to establish much, other than the environment. They don’t establish tone or mood, as the script does brilliantly. On top of that scenes which seemed more visceral in their description in script, seemed to be almost unmemorable. There was no emphasis, or viewing the landscape through the lens of that film’s world, as for instance, Fargo (Coen Brothers, 1996) did brilliantly with it’s opening shots.

Another interesting detail when comparing script to film was budgetary constraints. Elements in the script that really set the scene, were removed and replaced with lesser versions, a necessity for a small budget film. In my own experience, the often grandiose ideas are lost throughout the production process, as it simply costs too much money. The constant battle between what is written and what is achievable physically, the constraints of production, heavily influence the translation of a piece from script to screen.

Comparing a well-written script to the end product really helped me to solidify my own experience with production constraints and see how the budget of a film, it’s ability to commodify, really effect the end product. How translation from script to screen can be a bumpy process as the filmmakers are confronted with the realities of production.

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

What Even is Tone? Notes From Class

Today our discussions led to a great observation: ‘depends what you mean by tone’.

What do we mean by tone?

Here’s what came up:

the attitude the piece takes


‘colour’ and ‘temperature’

type of resonance (and possibilities for extending on the musical metaphor implied by ‘tone’ more broadly)

mood (which could also lead to genre)


tone affects the way the WORLD is portrayed.

Based on this discussion, we each tried to come up with our own definition for ‘tone’.

Here’s one from Ed: “Tone is the culmination of sensory stimuli employed to extract a general feeling, attitude or emotion from an audience/consumer”.

And another from Michael: “The degree and nature by which aesthetic and narrative elements formulate an intended emotional and psychological affect in a viewer or reader in construction of a world”

And from Vera (in terms of the active process of considering tone): where the story world sits in the continuum of lightness and darkness

And from Stayci – Tone: the quality of the piece as denoted by attitude, feeling and mood.

Assignment 1: Contemplating Worlds

“I am thinking about how screen stories are crafted, and wondering…”

For me so far, what has got me “wondering” about “screen stories” is the sheer depth in which one can delve into these worlds. While contrasting my own work’s development, with the writing prompts (about what we hate/like) we were given and the process of answering the prompt, I found it very powerful to see how much depth these characters and worlds had. In contrast with a lot of my work, which seemed to only really have superficial, face value development. The characters were underdeveloped and the overarching themes took control. This meant that my work seemed to only think of and exist in the short form world, because the world seemed impossible to expand. However, now I can see the limitless possibilities worlds have.

The other exercise was also intriguing, as we had to take an already established world and develop it further. The collaborative nature of this exercise was very unique to the art of story telling and world building. Everyone was throwing out ideas, what ifs, trying to link concepts, genres and character attributes into a unique whole. As soon as we knew we were going against the believability of the original world, we would backtrack or start anew. We, like every other group it seems, started out with a revenge tale. We also contemplated developing the story and the world from the man’s perspective. All of these concepts led to something entirely different, and possibly too dramatic for the class, a borderline agoraphobe (believes she is steadily becoming afraid of the outside world), who works as a phone sex worker (acting like someone new and entirely different in the process), and continuously day dreams about what her life would be like if she did have social contact.

Even though to me this seemed like a great fit for a very meek and shy character, I found, once I had explained the idea out loud to the class, it wasn’t as true to the original character as I had once thought. This new version was far more frustrated, numb and hollow. She was a shadow of herself, which in context of the day dreaming could make sense, but I still believe was too much of a negative jump. Possibly adjusting her character to someone who is sick and tired of seclusion, and decides to re-explore the world, gradually building herself up both mentally and physically, for the task at hand, would suit this world better?

8 Preliminary Questions For Finding Your Short Film Structure

  1. Who is the protagonist?
  2. What is the protagonist’s situation at the beginning of the film?
  3. Who or what is the antagonist?
  4. What event or occasion serves as a catalyst?
  5. What is the protagonist’s dramatic action? (first act in the direction of need/want)
  6. What is the antagonist’s dramatic action?
  7. How is the protagonist’s action resolved?
  8. Do you have any images or ideas, however unformed, as to the climax? The ending?

If you can’t answer these questions, executives will believe you have no story. Skirting the lines of convention always, never fully breaking it.

Enter Another World

Scriptwriting. A necessity of sorts in this industry. But it’s more than that. Not only is it a dream for many, but you could consider it the art of translating dreams. Translating our perspective, how and what we observe into a format, a bare bones structure, that is born specifically of the mind. It is not a visual sensation we absorb and disseminate. The visual translation is someone else’s job, the job of the director, cinematographer, set designer… It’s your job to build the WORLD in which they work. The WORLD they must translate into a visual context and reality. And this is where my final studio comes into the picture.

Another World is a studio based on creating scripts and observing screenworks from the perspective of the worlds they create.

We kicked things off with probably one of my favourite writing prompts:

Write something you like. Then something you hate. Add five reasons why you like what you like and why you hate what you hate. Write five reasons why someone might like what you hate, and five reasons why someone might hate what you like. Who would these people be? What stories could they tell?

This exercise was the first time I had every really thought in depth about characters, and with each point of the exercise, I could feel these unique characters forming and coming to life. Worlds developed around them the further into their reality I went. Previously I created characters based on myself or on tropes. They were never really multi-dimensional. This exercise really drove me to develop characters far beyond that point, on the verge of uniqueness.

Exercises like this make you think outiside the box and realise just how large that space is. How much can truly occur outside the box, as opposed to skirting the boundaries of the box. Go out into the wild, green yonder. I dare you, and I bet it’ll be worth your while.