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How Writing Affects Acting


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From a Performance in Film and Videogames class at University of Calgary.

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How Writing Affects Acting

  1. 1. How Writing Affects Acting + Myth and the Hero’s Journey No Country for Old Men (Cohen Brothers, Writers) The Counselor (Cormac McCarty, Writer) Robert McKee / Joseph Campbell
  2. 2. Three Tips on Writing Characters for the Screen 1. Leave room for the actor. 2. Fall in love with all of your characters. 3. Character is self-knowledge. Robert McKee Story: Style Structure Substance and the Principle of Screenwriting Screenwriting
  3. 3. Javier Bardem as Anton Chighur No Country for Old Men, Cohen Brothers, Writer/Directors) • Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy Javier Bardem as Reiner The Counselor McCarthy/Scott, Writer/Director) • Based on McCarthy’s own novel.
  4. 4. Spike Jonze Writer/Director • Her: Love in the Modern Age 2013 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. • Other writings; Jackass TV Series, Where the Wild Things Are. • Directed Her (2012), Adaptation (2002) Clip 1:04:00
  5. 5. Joseph Campbell Scholar and Writer Myth -- basically serves four functions. 1. The mystical function, experiencing awe before the mystery of being. 2. A cosmological dimension showing one the shape of the universe in a way that the mystery comes through. 3. The sociological one – supporting and validating a certain social order 4. But there is a fourth function of myth …
  6. 6. Fourth Function of Myth 4. The pedagogical function. By establishing rites of passage into critical stages of life (or through a “story"), myth provides guideposts and beacons to serve as a reminder that there is a purpose. This is to allow a sense of comfort in the entire process, as the individual remembers that he is not the first not the last to embark upon this Hero’s Journey.
  7. 7. Protagonist’s Quest (McKee)/Hero’s Journey (Campbell) • The protagonist’s quest carries him through Progressive Complications until he’s exhausted all actions to achieve his desire, save one. • His quest takes him to a crisis decision. His next action is his last. No tomorrow. No second chance. • This turning point is the moment of greatest tension in the story as both the protagonist/hero and audience sense that the question, “How will this turn out?” Writing and Hero’s Journey
  8. 8. Apocalypse Now Story Structure Escalating Action Plotline Schematic (From McKee) Willard’s Quest (Spine of the Story) What’s at Stake? Progressive Complications. Unconscious Object of Desire? X Inciting Incident Getting his assassination orders X Crisis Decision (Turning Point) X Get on the Boat – With Consequences X Get off the Boat -- Consequences X Get off the Boat -- Consequences Do I fulfill my orders or not? Kill him or join him? X Get off the Boat -- Consequences X Get off the Boat -- Consequences X Climax Killing Kurtz X Escalating Actions X Resolution “The Horror, The Horror.” Conscious Object of Desire is Terminate Col. Kurtz Freedom from the darkness of his soul?
  9. 9. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979) • During the Viet Nam War, Captain Willard is sent on a mission along the Nung River to assassinate the renegade Colonel Kurtz. Martin Sheen as Cap’t Ben Willard, Marlon Brando, as Col. Kurtz