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Introduction to Screenwriting and  Film Theory Instructor: Mr. Crisafi
 
The Screenplay <ul><li>Is the  skeleton   or  blueprint  of a film </li></ul><ul><li>Although the medium of film is consta...
The Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Screenwriting is different from all other forms of narrative writing </li></ul>
Novels vs. Screenplays <ul><li>Novel </li></ul><ul><li>Endless Detail </li></ul><ul><li>Stream of Consciousness  </li></ul...
Examples <ul><li>He rolls onto his stomach, pulling the  </li></ul><ul><li>pillow tight around his head,  </li></ul><ul><l...
Starting Your Screenplay <ul><li>The Premise:   The guiding </li></ul><ul><li>force of your script that drives every event...
Character <ul><li>The most successful screenplays are character-driven, meaning all action or plot is organic and derives ...
Character (Cont.)
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Backstory   </li></ul><ul><li>You should develop as much biographical info. as possible about y...
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Every character in your script, even the minor ones, should be  unique  in some way.  </li></ul...
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Write what you know </li></ul><ul><li>Write from your understanding of human psychology and you...
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Your characters should  not  behave in the same consistent manner throughout the script. </li><...
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Conflict:   Characters change through experiencing conflict. Your protagonist must be faced wit...
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Putting Your Characters Behind the Eight-Ball: </li></ul><ul><li>Explore ways to keep your char...
Stakes <ul><li>Much of the drama derived from putting your character behind the eight-ball has to do with what the charact...
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>In most successful screenplays, the protagonist reaches a final moment of decision where he or ...
Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Conclusion:  Follows the climax and is characterized by the central conflict having been resolv...
Three Act Structure <ul><li>Although there are exceptions, most screenplays employ a three-act structure. </li></ul><ul><l...
Three Act Structure (cont’d) <ul><li>Act II:   The conflict deepens until it reaches a climax or breaking point. Usually t...
Formatting Your Screenplay <ul><li>Font :   </li></ul><ul><li>Courier New, 12pt. </li></ul>
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Slugline:   Establishes the setting and time frame of each scene </li></ul><ul...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Action:   Describes the setting, surroundings, and actions taking place with y...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>He watches the pan fall from his  </li></ul><ul><li...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Character:   Always capitalized and centered </li></ul><ul><li>Parentheticals:...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Dialogue:  Appears directly below the character name or parenthetical and shou...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Note:  If descriptive text interrupts a character’s dialogue, insert  (CONT’D)...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>DAVID </li></ul><ul><li>I said I don’t want to. </li></ul><ul><li>He pulls his...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Note:   If a character is speaking off-screen, insert   (O.S.)   to the right ...
Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>DAVID (O.S.) </li></ul><ul><li>You smell like a moldy shoe. </li></ul><ul><li>...
Film as an Art Form <ul><li>No other Art Form is as Complex as Filmmaking. There are an endless set of tools at the filmma...
Through the Following… <ul><ul><li>- Camera Shots  - Editing   </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Camera Angles - Music </li></u...
Mise en Scène <ul><li>From the French, it literally means  “staging an action.” </li></ul><ul><li>Applied to film, it sign...
Lighting <ul><li>High key:   vibrant, even illumination throughout the film; suggests truth, security, happiness (usually ...
<ul><li>Low Key:  features the use of shadows and atmospheric pools of light; suggests fear, evil, or the unknown (usually...
<ul><li>High contrast:  Harsh streaks of light and dramatic swaths of blackness; denotes danger and anxiety (used to great...
Camera Shots <ul><li>Defined by the amount of subject matter included in the frame of the camera: </li></ul><ul><li>Extrem...
Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Extreme Long-Shot:  shows the entire landscape or setting of a scene.  Often found in epic f...
Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Full Shot:   barely encapsulates the entire human body. First used in silent comedies becaus...
Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Medium Shot:   captures figures from the knees or waist up. Useful for exposition, carrying ...
Camera Shots (cont’d)
Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Close-Up:   concentrates on an object or the human form, such as the face. Elevates the impo...
Camera Angles <ul><li>The angle from which an object is photographed can often serve as an authorial commentary on the sub...
Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>Bird’s-Eye View:   involves photographing a scene from overhead, looking down upon the subj...
Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>Eye-Level Angle:   although the most often used angle, they are the least dramatic because ...
Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>High-Angle Shots:   The camera is placed above the subject matter so the audience is lookin...
Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>Low Angle Shot:   Opposite of the high-angle. Increases a subject’s height and, psychologic...
Colors   <ul><li>Tends to suggest mood and, in general, cool colors ( blue ,   green ,   violet ) suggest tranquility, alo...
Colors (cont’d) <ul><li>Memoirs of a Geisha: </li></ul><ul><li>Gong Li’s character represents passion and violence, theref...
Colors (cont’d) <ul><li>Traffic: </li></ul><ul><li>The cool blue that follows Michael Douglas’s storyline reflects his ine...
Composition   <ul><li>Refers to the arrangement of shapes, colors, lines, and textures within the frame.  </li></ul><ul><l...
Composition (cont’d)
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Intro. to Screenwriting

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Intro. to Screenwriting

  1. 1. Introduction to Screenwriting and Film Theory Instructor: Mr. Crisafi
  2. 3. The Screenplay <ul><li>Is the skeleton or blueprint of a film </li></ul><ul><li>Although the medium of film is constantly changing (i.e. the digital realm), the screenplay is the constant component of a film that never changes. </li></ul>
  3. 4. The Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Screenwriting is different from all other forms of narrative writing </li></ul>
  4. 5. Novels vs. Screenplays <ul><li>Novel </li></ul><ul><li>Endless Detail </li></ul><ul><li>Stream of Consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>Imbedded in the mind of the characters </li></ul><ul><li>Screenplay </li></ul><ul><li>Economical </li></ul><ul><li>Maintains Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Through the eyes of the lens </li></ul>
  5. 6. Examples <ul><li>He rolls onto his stomach, pulling the </li></ul><ul><li>pillow tight around his head, </li></ul><ul><li>blocking out the sharp arrows of sun </li></ul><ul><li>that pierce through the window. </li></ul><ul><li>Morning is not a good time for him. </li></ul><ul><li>Too many details crowd his mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Brush his teeth first? Wash his face? </li></ul><ul><li>What pants should he wear? What </li></ul><ul><li>shirt? The small seed of despair </li></ul><ul><li>cracks open and sends experimental </li></ul><ul><li>tendrils upward to the fragile skin of </li></ul><ul><li>calm holding him together. </li></ul><ul><li>INT. BEDROOM. MORNING </li></ul><ul><li>CONRAD lies in bed, a </li></ul><ul><li>pillow over his face, </li></ul><ul><li>blocking out the sun. He </li></ul><ul><li>does not stir, as if </li></ul><ul><li>quietly challenging the </li></ul><ul><li>world to drag him out of </li></ul><ul><li>bed. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Starting Your Screenplay <ul><li>The Premise: The guiding </li></ul><ul><li>force of your script that drives every event within your story. </li></ul><ul><li>- Involves three elements: character , conflict , conclusion . </li></ul>
  7. 8. Character <ul><li>The most successful screenplays are character-driven, meaning all action or plot is organic and derives from the needs or desires of the main character. </li></ul><ul><li>Your main character is your protagonist and requires you to think of he/she as a real person. The same goes for your antagonist - the person or force working against your main character. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Character (Cont.)
  9. 10. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Backstory </li></ul><ul><li>You should develop as much biographical info. as possible about your character. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the character’s physiology (sex, age, overall appearance, physical traits), social and economic background (place of birth, occupation, education, race, religion, hobbies, etc.), and psychology (temperament, abilities, taste, ambitions, moral standards, etc.) </li></ul>
  10. 11. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Every character in your script, even the minor ones, should be unique in some way. </li></ul><ul><li>They don’t have to be extremely peculiar or draw attention to themselves, but they should possess qualities or quirks that set them apart and make them memorable. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Write what you know </li></ul><ul><li>Write from your understanding of human psychology and your own experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Once you begin to write, your knowledge of your characters set within your premise will determine their behavior and actions, however … </li></ul>
  12. 13. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Your characters should not behave in the same consistent manner throughout the script. </li></ul><ul><li>Characters must experience changes - it is part of their character development and what makes them interesting and, as a result, makes your film interesting. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Conflict: Characters change through experiencing conflict. Your protagonist must be faced with adversity in order for him/her to grow and in order for your story to remain compelling. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Putting Your Characters Behind the Eight-Ball: </li></ul><ul><li>Explore ways to keep your characters from obtaining their goals. This should create conflict and tension in a way that naturally allows your characters to develop organically. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Stakes <ul><li>Much of the drama derived from putting your character behind the eight-ball has to do with what the character has at stake. </li></ul><ul><li>Basically, what does your character </li></ul><ul><li>have to lose? Based on your </li></ul><ul><li>character’s desire, the stakes of </li></ul><ul><li>losing one’s life can be the same as </li></ul><ul><li>a child losing a cookie. </li></ul>
  16. 17. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>In most successful screenplays, the protagonist reaches a final moment of decision where he or she must choose a course of action that will lead either to success or destruction. </li></ul><ul><li>This point usually culminates near the climax – the height of action and/or conflict. </li></ul>
  17. 18. Character (cont’d) <ul><li>Conclusion: Follows the climax and is characterized by the central conflict having been resolved. </li></ul><ul><li>Generally, all of the script’s “loose ends” are tied up at the conclusion and hopefully, your character has reached the end of his/her metamorphosis. </li></ul>
  18. 19. Three Act Structure <ul><li>Although there are exceptions, most screenplays employ a three-act structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Act I: Characters and conflict are introduced and the plot is set up. </li></ul>
  19. 20. Three Act Structure (cont’d) <ul><li>Act II: The conflict deepens until it reaches a climax or breaking point. Usually the longest act. </li></ul><ul><li>Act III: The conflict is resolved and leads to denouement , or conclusion. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Formatting Your Screenplay <ul><li>Font : </li></ul><ul><li>Courier New, 12pt. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Slugline: Establishes the setting and time frame of each scene </li></ul><ul><li>Example : </li></ul><ul><li>INT. STORE. EVENING </li></ul>
  22. 23. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Action: Describes the setting, surroundings, and actions taking place with your character and in the story. </li></ul>
  23. 24. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>He watches the pan fall from his </li></ul><ul><li>hand, as if in a trance. It </li></ul><ul><li>CLANGS to the floor and the </li></ul><ul><li>sound ripples through the silent </li></ul><ul><li>apartment. </li></ul>
  24. 25. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Character: Always capitalized and centered </li></ul><ul><li>Parentheticals: Also called “wrylies;” appear directly under the character name and slightly to the left: </li></ul><ul><li>DAVID </li></ul><ul><li>(shyly) </li></ul>
  25. 26. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Dialogue: Appears directly below the character name or parenthetical and should remain somewhat short – avoid long-winded passages of exposition or musings through dialogue . </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>DAVID </li></ul><ul><li>I don’t want to go with you. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Note: If descriptive text interrupts a character’s dialogue, insert (CONT’D) to the right of the character’s name the second time the name appears. </li></ul>
  27. 28. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>DAVID </li></ul><ul><li>I said I don’t want to. </li></ul><ul><li>He pulls his arm away and turns </li></ul><ul><li>to leave. </li></ul><ul><li>DAVID (CONT’D) </li></ul><ul><li>You never listen to me. </li></ul>
  28. 29. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>Note: If a character is speaking off-screen, insert (O.S.) to the right of the character’s name. If you want to indicate voice-over, insert (V.O.) to the right of the name. </li></ul>
  29. 30. Formatting Your Screenplay (cont’d) <ul><li>DAVID (O.S.) </li></ul><ul><li>You smell like a moldy shoe. </li></ul><ul><li>~ or ~ </li></ul><ul><li>DAVID (V.O.) </li></ul><ul><li>This is the town I grew up in. </li></ul>
  30. 31. Film as an Art Form <ul><li>No other Art Form is as Complex as Filmmaking. There are an endless set of tools at the filmmaker’s disposal. </li></ul><ul><li>How do Writers/Directors communicate their ideas through their Films? </li></ul>
  31. 32. Through the Following… <ul><ul><li>- Camera Shots - Editing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Camera Angles - Music </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Cinematography - Sound </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Colors - Setting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Lighting - Costumes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Composition - Dialogue </li></ul></ul>
  32. 33. Mise en Scène <ul><li>From the French, it literally means “staging an action.” </li></ul><ul><li>Applied to film, it signifies the director’s control over what appears in the film’s frame (i.e. its absolute composition). </li></ul>
  33. 34. Lighting <ul><li>High key: vibrant, even illumination throughout the film; suggests truth, security, happiness (usually reserved for musicals and comedies) </li></ul>
  34. 35. <ul><li>Low Key: features the use of shadows and atmospheric pools of light; suggests fear, evil, or the unknown (usually used in mysteries and thrillers). </li></ul>
  35. 36. <ul><li>High contrast: Harsh streaks of light and dramatic swaths of blackness; denotes danger and anxiety (used to great effect in horrors and tragedies) </li></ul>
  36. 37. Camera Shots <ul><li>Defined by the amount of subject matter included in the frame of the camera: </li></ul><ul><li>Extreme long-shot </li></ul><ul><li>Full shot </li></ul><ul><li>Medium shot </li></ul><ul><li>Close-up </li></ul>
  37. 38. Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Extreme Long-Shot: shows the entire landscape or setting of a scene. Often found in epic films where locale plays a vital role. </li></ul>
  38. 39. Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Full Shot: barely encapsulates the entire human body. First used in silent comedies because it’s suited for the art of pantomime while still allowing the camera to register facial expressions. </li></ul>
  39. 40. Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Medium Shot: captures figures from the knees or waist up. Useful for exposition, carrying movement, and for dialogue. Variants: the two-shot, three-shot, or over-the-shoulder-shot. </li></ul>
  40. 41. Camera Shots (cont’d)
  41. 42. Camera Shots (cont’d) <ul><li>Close-Up: concentrates on an object or the human form, such as the face. Elevates the importance of the subject, often suggesting a symbolic significance. Very useful for conveying emotion. </li></ul>
  42. 43. Camera Angles <ul><li>The angle from which an object is photographed can often serve as an authorial commentary on the subject matter. Determined by where the camera is placed, not the subject photographed. </li></ul>
  43. 44. Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>Bird’s-Eye View: involves photographing a scene from overhead, looking down upon the subjects. Can be very disorienting and make the objects in the frame seem unfamiliar or abstract. </li></ul>
  44. 45. Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>Eye-Level Angle: although the most often used angle, they are the least dramatic because they tend to be the norm and are equal to the manner in which we actually view the world. </li></ul>
  45. 46. Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>High-Angle Shots: The camera is placed above the subject matter so the audience is looking upon them from above. Reduces the importance of the subject and makes it seem inferior. </li></ul>
  46. 47. Camera Angles (cont’d) <ul><li>Low Angle Shot: Opposite of the high-angle. Increases a subject’s height and, psychologically, low angles heighten the importance of a subject, usually indicating dominance or a threatening nature. </li></ul>
  47. 48. Colors <ul><li>Tends to suggest mood and, in general, cool colors ( blue , green , violet ) suggest tranquility, aloofness, and serenity. Warm colors ( red , yellow , and orange ) suggest aggressiveness, violence, and stimulation. Whereas cool colors seem to recede behind an image, warm colors come to the forefront and tend to standout. </li></ul>
  48. 49. Colors (cont’d) <ul><li>Memoirs of a Geisha: </li></ul><ul><li>Gong Li’s character represents passion and violence, therefore, her red kimono stands out, contrasting with the earthy tones of her surroundings. </li></ul>
  49. 50. Colors (cont’d) <ul><li>Traffic: </li></ul><ul><li>The cool blue that follows Michael Douglas’s storyline reflects his ineffectiveness, polarity, and political impotence in regard to the drug trade. </li></ul>
  50. 51. Composition <ul><li>Refers to the arrangement of shapes, colors, lines, and textures within the frame. </li></ul><ul><li>The human eye is usually directed toward a specific, contrasted image within the frame. This image is known as the dominant . </li></ul>
  51. 52. Composition (cont’d)

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