“ The Script” – Marilyn Milgrom Notes by Paige Parker
<ul><li>Some directors are driven to write their own scripts out of frustration and the desire to get on with making something. </li></ul><ul><li>You shouldn’t make an intense character study if you are scared of actors. </li></ul><ul><li>You should be careful to consider budget, if you only have 5k to make your film don’t develop an action story that will require stunts, car chases and special effects. </li></ul><ul><li>A feature film can be described as a novella and a short film as a haiku. </li></ul><ul><li>The length boundaries for festivals vary most will accept anything that is under 30 minutes but it can be difficult to place short films over 20 minutes. </li></ul>
<ul><li>If the function of your film is to make the audience laugh it should be 2-3 minutes max. </li></ul><ul><li>Any kind of dramatic story requires a world, a character and a problem. </li></ul><ul><li>It can be useful to set your film around a familiar event/ritual because of audience familiarity, barely suppressed emotions and its useful for generating dramatic tension. </li></ul><ul><li>A literal journey can be a good setting for a short film as it is, pivotal, significant event, and can be a metaphor for an emotional journey. </li></ul><ul><li>The five most important questions to ask when you begin to develop your story are; who is the main character? What is their problem? How will the audience recognise the problem? Are the stakes high enough? Am I telling the story from the best point of view? </li></ul>
<ul><li>There has to be something that drives your character through the story, there are three option as to what this thing should be, a want, a need, an obligation. It must be clear to the audience which of the three is being conveyed. </li></ul><ul><li>It is also crucial that accompanying this element is an obstacle making it hard for the character and a problem. </li></ul><ul><li>The reason in why there are a lot of short films about children and teenagers is because of their age and their lack of experience of the adult world. </li></ul><ul><li>By turning the characters inner problem into the heart of your film and making sure the audience can see it you demonstrate your skill as a filmmaker and not just a storyteller. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensuring that something is at stake in your story means that the audience can understand what the character stands to loose if they do not solve their problem. </li></ul>
<ul><li>A different POV can completely change the story it can change the meaning and details can be found of left out completely. </li></ul><ul><li>Many short film scripts fall down because they are written in the wrong point of view, their isn't an obvious external force against the character or because the meaning of the story isn't clear. </li></ul><ul><li>The awareness of the meaning inherent in your story matters because then you can make important choices to develop and refine your script. Its okay not to know what your stories about at the beginning. </li></ul><ul><li>Tone is intimately connected to genre, the implications of this is that you need to know what genre your working within or at least have a broad idea. </li></ul><ul><li>Tone emerges from the way in which each element supports the underlying meaning of the story. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The most common flaw of short scripts submitted for funding is having too many characters. </li></ul><ul><li>10-point plan; title, genre/tone, setting (time & place), main characters, want/need/obligation, opposition, catalyst for change, climax, resolution and the audience feels (theme). </li></ul><ul><li>Everything that happens should help the audience further understand the main character and their problem. </li></ul><ul><li>We can make sure what happens in the end couldn’t happen at the beginning by including a catalyst of change. </li></ul><ul><li>The step outline ensures that you have no slack in your film. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Every scene of significant action should deliver something on at least two out of three possible fronts, plot, character and theme </li></ul><ul><li>The best order in which you tell your story can be forwards backwards with flashback ect. If you story will work best with a straightforward linear narrative then you don’t have to play around with the non-linear structure simply for the sake of it. </li></ul><ul><li>Audiences instinctively know when something is pretentious or dishonest. </li></ul><ul><li>As a writer it is crucial that you are looking to ensure a way of telling the story that adds to its meaning and keeps the audience engaged. </li></ul><ul><li>Establish the world and the character with maximum speed and minimal dialogue. </li></ul>
<ul><li>To make your film cinematic establish the world and the character with maximum speed and minimal dialogue. </li></ul><ul><li>For ensuring that a short is more cinematic and less televisual in feel you should write the dialogue last and only have a short dialogue throughout, the less of it you need to tell the story the more cinematic your film will feel. </li></ul><ul><li>The first audience for your film is a reader of the script and one of these may have the power to begin the process of getting it funded. </li></ul><ul><li>Do everything you can to help the reader “see” your film as they read it not get irritated; follow the screenwriting conventions, read scripts to familiarise yourself with ways of conveying action and tone on the page, avoid writing camera directions and stuff that is going on inside a characters head that the audience for the film cant see. </li></ul><ul><li>Simple is a useful descriptor, but don’t ever make the mistake of thinking it means superficial or facile. </li></ul>
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