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Entries in screen craft (1)

Friday
Nov022012

When the Bough Breaks - the practice of storycraft

My brother Joel and I started writing this at the end of August. We wanted to prove that a good script could carry a film. The handheld run-and-gun style of films like Warrior(2011) inspired us because of the spontinaity of the telling. I don't remember any establishing shots. It didn't feel like they'd worried too much about making it perfect or pretty. Their time seemed to have been spent on getting the story right.

Society is centered on marketing.

Everything we see and read is about the next big announcement, the next new thing that's better than the old thing because its new. New means better. The film making world is full of it: new camera systems, new software, new technology to shake the earth with its mighty game changing power. And all it takes to harness these new goodies is your wallet. It's intoxicating and anyone who's spent any amount of time shopping for new gear "for the lust of it" knows exactly what I'm talking about. It fosters the idea that all you need to create great work, is to spend enough money on it.

Lies.

Something is missing from the formula.

Yes, technology is important, and you've got to at least have some of it to get a moving image on the screen. But it's not the end because the most important part isn't sold anywhere.

Story.

There is NO technology that can EVER be invented to make story telling easier. It doesn't care what century you live in, what language you speak, or how much shiny stuff you've got in your pocket, basket, or hole in the ground. It staunchly maintains its persistance as the most agonizingly difficult fantastically rewarding process ever concieved of by the human mind.

To write Hamlet, you have to work as hard and as tenaciously as Shakespear because the rules NEVER change. Tolkein was a genius. But he worked harder and longer than anyone else would to create his legendary work. This is why it's his name on the spine and not someone else's. You can't buy that. The only way is to be that.

So Joel and I worked really hard for the majority of our time on this film to make the story work before we ever started the script. Our deadline was a local Halloween film festival so rewriting happened on the go during production.

Limitations force you to greater heights. It's the same with your characters. If you want a great triumph in the story, It only gets there by the strength of opposition, by more constraining limitations.

So when we faced these during production, we dug in and figured out solutions that made things work better than the original plan. The process was grueling, but oh so rewarding. I could see it light up my actors as well. Their performances were singing and our story was coming to life! 

It's the most growth rich environment I know of and the only way we can see of aquiring the unpurchasable gift of storycraft. It is the most insanely difficult, mind confounding process there is, but when it clicks and the thing you made finally starts working, oh how the endorphins flow! There's nothing like it.

Hope you enjoy it. More to come.