Great Debate 4 - BBC Sherlock


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A passionate presentation from writer and actress Bonnic MacBird (best known for writing Tron). Bonnie is a huge BBC Sherlock Fan and this detailed presentation looks in particular at the screenwriting from the series.

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  • ONE Thank you Steve. And a special thanks to Sherlockology for helping me see some of the actual scripts. And also for volunteering to help with the slides, though I didn’t give you time. I’m a lifelong fan of the original Conan Doyle, and BBC Sherlock is by far thebestadaptaion of recent years. Today’s talk is a Valentine to BBC Sherlock -- which is not only the best thing on television but they are really movies. And I’d put Scandal in Bohemia in my top ten Films of all time. Millions of us love SHERLOCK…but do we know WHY?NEXT
  • TWO Well obviously Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, two of the best actors working today. But it all starts with great writing, something both of these actors have publicly acknowledged. Let’s look into this. Writers are often given the advice “write what you know” but better advice is “write what you love”. Good writing always comes from the heart.When writers try to analyze the market and shoot for a hit, what results is soul free and often misses badly.. When a writer starts instead with what they truly love, chances are much better. NEXT
  • THREE Sherlock creators Moffat and Gatiss have been Sherlock Holmes fan boys since childhood. BBC Sherlock not only pays homage to the originalsories ofArthur Conan Doyle but closely resemble them in all major points As well they should. Many reasons why Conan Doyle and his creations are popular for 130 years. Four essential elements shared by the canon and SHERLOCK….let’s see how Sherlock absolutely nails them, NEXT
  • FOUR The four shared elements are, in my opinion1. THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES 2. THE RELATIONSHIP with Watson, the heart and soul of the matter3.THE CREED– Something I’d call “the creed”or code of honour.Holmes is truly on the side of the Angels even if he isn’t one himself 4. A GREAT RIDEFirst, the essential Sherlock: NEXT
  • FIVE: The Essential Sherlock Holmes ONE – THE ESSENTIAL HOLMES CHARACTER- Brilliant, rude, emotional, logical, strong, can be socially clueless, lonely, witty, extremely capable, YET vulnerable, logical, oh and a snappy dresser. But above all… ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS. And about Sherlock’s sexuality? Hmmmmm…….Every female fan feels “she could be the one to unlock this man”, Doyle knew what he was doing there. And so do the Sherlock team.Sherlock Holmes was a man of Victorian times, they cried when he died. As Moffat pointed out, Sherlock is a man of our times and we feel similarly close to him., loner, but always on the side of the angels. And despite his vulnerabilities a very capable man. His disntinctly Dickensian clothing and hair not only suit his dramatic flair but also echo an earlier time, as does the set design of 221B. By contrast, Elementary b gives us an interesting character and a great actor, but it is NOT Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock is not basically cruel, for example. Torture for revenge; neverNEXT.
  • SIX2. – THE FRIENDSHIP The bond between Holmes and Watson is the heart and soul of the stories, and of BBC Sherlock..We all wanta friend like Watson Always has our back. Loves and admires us. But he won’t let us get away with our shit. NEXT
  • SEVEN - SHERLOCK CLIP 1 – VERY LOYAL VERY QUICKLYAnd we all dream of BEING a friend like Watson, too. Loyal . Steadfast. Unshakeable.. This CLIPone of my favorite Watson moments. The one fixed point in a changing age. We see his grit and his honor, but the clever writers don’t tell it They let it reveal itself. In this scene, Watson has been kidnapped and brought to an isolated place where he faces a mysterious man who would like him to spy on his new roommate Sherlock. . He’s known Sherlock less than a day here but hasn’t even decided to move in.. PLAY CLIP. (if clip doesn’ play read below….. Then…. NEXTIf the clip won’t play… in this clip Watson has spent less than a day with Sherlock when he is virtually is kidnapped andtaken to a remote warehouse. There he is challenged by a mysterious and ominious man who offers him money to spy on his new roommate.. He refuses. “You’re very loyal, very quickly” said this scary figure. “Just not interested” is his response. A man of grit and honour. And very courageious. NEXT\\
  • EIGHT Third point of connection to the original - CALL TO HONOUR – or TO THE BEST IN USOn Conan Doyle’s gravestone it says “Blade Straight Steel True”. Behind the mystery, mental pyrotechnicstheadventure and and the laughs, Sherlock is essentially a story of two men trying to do right. They are unabashedly heroic, no need to satirize. The original canon summons all the great stuff of the Victorian ethos all in short supply today…Stoicism, honor, friendship, loyalty, bravery, a keen sense of right and wrongFood for the modern soul.NEXT
  • NINEAnd the final element in Canon and Sherlock ----- BOTH DELIVER A TERRIFIC RIDE.Entertainment at its best. Conan Doyle invented the episodic mystery/adventure genre. Adventure is key. Elementary is a procedural, far more talk than action. Conan Doyle… and Sherlock never les you sit down for long. Both write up to the audience and keep things moving.NEXT
  • TENAnd funny. NEXT
  • ELEVENSo we’ve covered content and the essentialSherlockian elements. Now, I’m going to talk about the SCREENWRITING CRAFT. As I said, the best scripts come from the heart But all great screenwriting embodies the following: Economy of style . Brevity is the soul of good screenwriting. It’s spare, it’s like haiku, there are fewer words on the page than you’d think. Particularly dialogue.Next… The best writers show us not tell us. They use elliptical dialogue. People don’t\\ say exactly what they mean. The speak around the truth. They use subtext. And there is a strong emphasis on the visual, as much and sometimes even more than the dialogue.Point three.. Filmmaking is a meta art form, made up of all the others – it’s not just a literary art. It’s a blueprint for dramatic art, acting, visual art- directing, editing, set and costume design, art direction, - so many artist pour their talent and craft into this massive thing that starts with one person seeing it all in his or her head… and putting the master plan… the script….t down on the page. The good writer leaves room for these other artists. Opens the door to them so to speak. . And point four. Great screenwriters write UP to the viewer not down. Here’s a great example from Sherlock. NEXT Spare/shownot tell/ use all the arts of film/write UP to the viewer
  • TWELVE Sherlock Clip 2 ….WE MEET WATSON SCENE. - DO NOT PLAY UNTIL I”VE SAID THE FOLLOWING:This clip illustrates the screenwriting points I just made. Spare. Masses of info with few words. Room for the director, the actor, the designer, and the musical score to play a role. Watch what we learn here with very words of dialogue.PLAY CLIP.What did we learn. He’s se n combat, he’s in physical pain, troubled with nightmares, terribly alone, trying buck up. The caduceous on the cup- a doctor, the apple, maybe poor, the cane and the limp, injured, reads upside down, maybe some intelligence training, what are the writers doingThey are letting us, the viewer,BE Sherlock Holmes. This is using the full power of medium and writing UP to theaudience. This is art.
  • THIRTEEN So okay, brevity. But what of those famous motormouth scenes, the one Benedict Cumberbatchcomplains about having to memorize. Aren’t they somewhat…wordy.The ones where we hear Holmes’s deductions, at machinegun pace. Exposition? YesProcedural… not quite. Because every time this happens, OTHER STUFF IS GOING ON. The little words on the screen put us into his head. Watson’s reactions deepen that character and the relationship. Trouble is brewing with Anderson. Lestrade reacts. New information appears. They leave for something else, action, reaction. All at top speed. Layers. It is never,never,peoplesittingin a room and quietly discussing the crime. Layered writing is great writing. Want another examples, see anything Brad Bird has written. Ratatouille for examples. Six things happen in every scene. To review.
  • FOURTEEN In this final clip, I’d like to give you a moment that is unequaled in any other Sherlock Holmes adaptation today. Completely layered. Notice what all happens ….It’s the call to adventure, the beginning of a friendship, and two characters revealing their true selves…. And A CALL TO ADVENTURE> all in thirty seconds. FINAL CLIP
  • FIFTEENSo do YOU want to see some more?. Season three WE ARE READY FOR YOU. Bring it on.Thank you for listening. Acknowledgments are on the final slide
  • SIXTEEN - Acknowledgements
  • Great Debate 4 - BBC Sherlock

    1. 1. SherlockBrilliantAndLovingHomagetotheSourcePresentation by Bonnie MacBird
    2. 2. SherlockTheTalent.TheVision.TheWRITING.
    3. 3. SherlockStevenMoffatandMarkGatiss
    4. 4. SherlockThe Four Main Elements sharedby The Canon and Sherlock:• The essential Sherlock Holmes• The Relationship• The Creed /Code of Honour• The Ride
    5. 5. SherlockELEMENTS: 1. The Essential Sherlock HolmesbrilliantrudeSnappy dresserlogicalwittyCan be socially cluelessemotionalvulnerableextremely capablestronglonelyOn the side of the angels
    6. 6. SherlockELEMENTS: 2. The Friendship
    7. 7. SherlockCLIP- THE FRIENDSHIP - click to play on speaker’s cue
    8. 8. SherlockELEMENTS: 3.- The Creed – a Call to Honour
    9. 9. Sherlock4 ELEMENTS: Four: A Great RIDE
    10. 10. Sherlock
    11. 11. SherlockGREAT SCREENWRITING• Brevity• Show,not tell• Blueprint for a meta artform –• Writes UP to viewer
    12. 12. SherlockCLIP TWO – we meet Watson – click to play on speaker’s cue
    13. 13. SherlockLAYERS
    14. 14. SherlockFINAL CLIPCHARCTERRELATIONSHIPTHECALLTO ADVENTUREFINAL.. CLIP 3…click to play on speaker’s cue
    15. 15. SherlockDo YOU want to seesome more?Bring on Season 3The EndPresentation by Bonnie MacBird
    16. 16. SherlockAcknowledgementsHartswoodSherlockologyBaker Street BabesMX PublishingFan Art by the followingAmanda Tolleson,“Allegator”from Kiev,Others artists I would like to thank butdo not know who you are-----Bonnie MacBirdbonnie@macbird.comPresentation by Bonnie MacBird