Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sometimes it's not a screenplay

I just read a short film script that's being submitted for a contest. The writer is an excellent writer with a nice personal take on the world that comes through very clearly in what she writes. And her piece had a nice payoff at the end.

But after reading it, I realized it would make a fantastic short story, instead of a script. The entire story basically took place in the lead character's head as she mused in voice over about her feelings staying in a New York hotel. All of which is nicely sarcastic and entertaining as far as it went.

What didn't happen was anything. In other words, nothing HAPPENED. And for me, screenplays need something to happen. Even in a short five minute piece, you still need a story and you need conflict and you need a climax and a resolution. Otherwise, you're left with mood, tone and attitude.

Directors LOVE that stuff, because it gives them a reason to wank with the camera.

But the screenwriter abdicates their position if that's the kind of script they write. The only person responsible for the STORY is the screenwriter. Lose the story, and the screenwriter is now a typist for the director.

Aristotle was right. If you want an audience to respond to your script, make sure something happens.

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