Scriptwriting: “Doll Encounter”, script finalized!

Hello!

I have now finalized the script!

The story has developed tremendously and in ways that I didn’t actually expect until I was writing and then re-writing them.

It’s been very enjoyable and am excited to conclude it. The official title is “Doll Encounter”. I wanted it to be a play on words so people could possibly think it was a misspell with “Dull” instead of “Doll” and the obvious metaphor of the future encounter Michael would have with (various) dolls.

The premise of the storyline is that Mr. Turner and Michael possess a comradeship with one and other which consists of Michael visiting Mr. Turner, at his house, and they talk about their days and what’s on their mind and play monopoly together. Yet, Mr. Turner has a secret he’s kept for years that no one, not even Michael, knows about. The story then starts to follow Michael’s small discoveries until he uncovers Turner’s dark secret.

From the beginning the characters’ introduction is presented off the bat and the audience accompanies the evolution of their unlikely friendship with a close eye.

As I have mentioned from the previous post, my intention with the introduction of a children focused television show and the doll would serve to fool the audience into thinking that Mr. Turner could be a possible paedophile or that he killed a child or something along those lines. That is because I love it when television shows that I personally follow have those plot twists that no one is expecting and the thrill that comes from it when you realize you were wrong the entire time and how the truth is so much better (or worse) than you could’ve imagined.

Those are big shoes to fill, admittedly, but I am happy to say that I have given my best to do so.

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Scriptwriting: Female masking and dolls

Secrets of the Living Dolls

Hello!

Since the last time I updated, I have finished going through my extensive list that I wrote regarding the elements I wanted to include in my story and I have now given names to the characters. The retired old man is named Mr. Turner and the young teenage boy who plays basketball is named Michael.

Through my research period, I knew I wanted Mr. Turner to possess a dark secret that Michael would uncover. SO I started to look into subcultures existent and society and since I used to watch a lot of TLC programs and knowing how some of them looked into the unlikely and abnormal lives of regular people, I remembered about a specific program that dealt with real life people that tried to transform themselves into life sized dolls. I mean, there was a man who did so many plastic surgeries so he could look like the Ken doll!

As I looked further into it, I liked the idea of the search for “perfection” which was the primary focus of the people presented in the program, but that still didn’t like the correct idea for the a sixty-five year old man. It wouldn’t be plausible for, at that age, to start looking for “perfection”. Whatever that might be.

And that’s how I stumbled into the world of female masking.

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The whole notion of it wasn’t completely new to me but as I researched more and more, it soon started to make sense to the point where Mr. Turner could very well be a female masker or “rubber doll” as they are called.

To know, after watching a documentary regarding the theme, that the majority of men who dress up in latex suits and go around as women can happen for the simple fact that they enjoy it and enjoy the feeling of youthfulness and “beauty” it provides them by being someone they’re not.

Bingo. That’s Mr. Turner’s secret!

But I also didn’t want that to be the only thing that distinguished Mr. Turner from other people. He needed something more. Another twist.

So why not also introduce the idea that he is a doll collector? It is a good segway that serves as a decoy to his actual secret. Being a female masker, he already appreciates the innate perfection that dolls possess with her flawless porcelain skin, big eyes, cupid lips and perfectly sculpted hair. It seemed like a perfect idea.

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The inspiration behind it came from my fascination with the show “American Horror Story” where, in season three, one of the male characters, called Spalding, possessed his own secret room in the attic where he had dozens of dolls which he played with and even dressed with doll’s clothes.

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And due to the fact that Mr. Turner has a secret room where he keeps the dolls and dresses up in the “rubber doll” ensemble, I felt like the scene was begging for a tea party scene not only because it feels appropriate but also because he needed to be doing something important enough to Michael want to investigate. Thus my inspiration for the tea party came from my childhood movie, “Alice in Wonderland”.

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Now, I’ve decided that the visual aspect of the story if very important for the flow of information that is provided, thus I have decided to balance it out with brief introductions of dialogue, as a way to even out the current of the story.

I’ll check back with the next update!

Scriptwriting: genre, characters and ideas

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Hello!

Our teacher has set out for us to create an original 8-10 page script for our final year assignment. Tough cookie, this one.

As the world is my oyster, I set out to trying to, first of all, decide what genre I wanted my story to centre around so that after deciding on that I could move on and decipher what story am I going to tell.

So after a while of thinking about what I would like to write about and having been watching films and television shows in hopes of finding inspiration, it finally struck me.

The genre I am going to focus on is suspense/thriller. For me, this is one of the best genres in storytelling as the storyline always follows with the unexpected in ways that, as a viewer, you wouldn’t think about. The being one step ahead of the audience is something very compelling and what drew me to it.

Currently, the way I am dividing all of my ideas follows the rules that were set out by Tom Lazarus’s book “The Last Word – Definitive Answer To All Your Screenwriting Questions”.

In it, Lazarus explains is technique of dealing with the downpour of ideas that can happen at any point and as a way of being prepared, as to not forget anything, for future notice is to divide his ideas in different documents titled: Characters, Scenes, Ideas and Miscellaneous. And he encouraged to not limit yourself and to just write down anything and everything that comes to mind in regards to the story as it might be something amazing to work with later on.

So this is how I started, I started to write down specific elements like: man, retired, gardening, michael, basketball, dolls, monopoly, house, planting flowers in the garden, Scottish, etc.

I just let all my ideas flow uninterrupted, always having the main focus of the genre in the back of my mind.

So I am now going to work through all that I’ve written and will get back to you as soon as I have another update.

See you soon!

Screenwriting: Non-linear narratives and stories

Hello!

In class today, we learned all about the different ways we can tell a story, meaning the different types of narrative a story can unfold.

  1. Tandem narrative. When two or more stories are being told at the same time because they are all of the same level of importance to the overall storyline. Such happens in films like “Into The Woods” (2014) and “Les Miserables” (2012).
  2. Sequential narrative. When two or more stories are told separately but come together at the end. Such is the example of “Mullholland Drive” (2001) and “Inception” (2010).

We also learned the different types of stories that actually exist.

  1. Multiple Protagonist Stories. Where the characters, who might either know each other or not, share mutual goals and wants in life. Examples of this are films such as “The Hangover” (2009) and “The Magnificent Seven” (1960).
  2. Reunion Story. This can be considered a follow up from the previous one, where the protagonists reunite for a common purpose. Examples of this are films such as “American Pie: The Reunion” (2012).
  3. Mission Story. Where the majority of the characters try to achieve something together. Examples include “Now You See Me” (2012) and “Inglorious Basterds” (2009).
  4. Siege Story. When a group of people are put in the same situation and having to deal with that. Examples include “The Walking Dead” (2010) and “Panic Room” (2002).
  5. Flashbacks. These are used to tell a character’s back story that actually allows the audience to go back in time to view it first hand. Examples of this happen often in television shows such as “The Vampire Diaries” (2009) and “Once Upon A Time” (2011).

 

Overall I learned that the way you tell a story doesn’t need to follow the linear structure that is imposed by the three act structure, instead it can follow whichever way you want to tell it.

As long as the story has good dramatic characters, a strong theme and good use of dialogue then the position of the beginning, middle and end to your story doesn’t really matter where it’s placed.

Screenwriting 101

Hello!

Screenwriting is a topic approached by many different authors and scriptwriters alike who have their specific ways in approaching an idea and to transform into script format.

But there a few tips that are common knowledge to anyone who likes to write. Especially if that someone has the ambition to write for the big screen, television or even theatre.

My teacher presented these tips with us in class and I would like to share it with you.

They are as follows:

  1. Do your homework. This means that whatever the topic you choose to centre your story around, you must know everything about it! Know the underlining theme, the reasoning behind your characters’ personality traits, how the world of your story came to be – basically you need to know anything and everything that exists in your script as everything needs to be there for a reason.
  2. Be careful with “on the nose dialogue”. A lot of the greatest scripts in movie history, centre more around the visual aspect of a story more so than dialogue. This is because dialogue is thought to be quite overrated by some of the most prestigious film makers such as Alfred Hitchcock. A story can function well with having zero to no dialogue as long as the combinations of all of the other elements in it still are able to portray a compelling and engaging story for the audience. In summary, using dialogue is a good thing as long as you don’t completely spell out everything that the character is thinking and/or feeling when you should rather show it.
  3. Be aware of the audience. When writing a story, any story, that will be presented to an audience even if that audience is your family or your closest friends, you need to be aware of what the reader’s perception of the story is. Basically, as the author, you need to always be one step ahead of the audience because their reaction will determine if your script is going to rise in glory or fail miserably.
  4. Don’t “play the aces too early”. I know you want to make your story the most epic and engaging one possible. But all the excitement behind starting to write a new script that you believe is amazing, might very well cloud your judgement for the most basic knowledge, don’t introduce the biggest climax of your story too soon. That will probably set the expectations of the reader too high when the rest of the story is just plain and simple from then on. Their interest will decrease to non-existence if that would be the case.
  5. Only write what you can “see”. This seems like something very simple to follow through, but the reality is not thus. I have fallen into this mistake many times and it is surprisingly easy to do without noticing. When you are writing a plot where the main characters finds himself in an unknown venue and he is methodically looking around and trying to decipher each detail of the location as to measure where he might be. In this case, you need to be careful and mindful that you can only write what the character is “seeing” not what he is “feeling internally” as that meddles into his emotional feelings or even his back story that you can’t show in screen.
  6. REWRITE. When you think that your script is perfect and you are ready to share it with the world, it’s because it’s probably not perfect and you’re setting yourself off to failure. There is probably some spelling error, repeated words, sentences that don’t make sense or even part of the dialogue for an important scene is missing. Meaning that you need to look over everything and maybe even send it to a couple other people so they can fact-check it for you.

Hopefully this is helpful to some of you!

4 Little Girls: Documentary introduction

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Hello!

Today we kicked off our Screenwriting module with a first glance of a genre we are going to be talking about for the next couple of weeks. Yes, it is Documentary time. When I first started in this module, we learned all that we needed to learn about Melodrama which was nice but I am glad that we can now move on to something different.

We learned that even though a documentary needs to be truthful and “follow the rules” in order for it to be an accurate representation of an actual event in time and space, it can still be creative. We, potential filmmakers, can still let our creative juices flow and let them show through it. It’s just a matter of editing: the cutting, the order in which we put the footage, photographs, locations, interviews, the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound, amongst so many others. It is in post-production that we can make a masterpiece out of a documentary. And that was interesting to acknowledge.

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And to kick start our classes, we were shown a Spike Lee documentary entilted “4 Little Girls” which follows the story of four young children that were brutally murdered by a bomb explosion while at church in Alabama in 1963. This is the basis of the story yet Lee tells us much more than that, he tells us all the events that led up to this massacre as to show the audience the “why” this happened. He doesn’t condone these events but instead feels the need to justify and to bring a clarity to the world, of who, why and what happened or needed to happen to give a reason for these murders. I don’t know if he succeeded but at least he told a story that deeply moved audiences, well at least it moved me. Lee goes deep into the begginings of racial prejudice in Alabama with the showing of archival footage, still photographs and even interviews with victims or bystanders that were there at those times.

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Later on in the afternoon seminar, our teacher mentioned something that I found quite alluring, when he said “Film is a ghostly medium”, right when he said it, I felt a chill come over me. The complete truthfulness of that statement caught me off guard. It is something so obvious yet it had such a poetic meaning to me. The idea of each film, even the current one’s, are and will someday be mere ghosts of the past is something morbidly fascinating to me. Yet, I always knew that film was such a beautiful medium where some of the greatest stories and pieces and History are forever “trapped” in film stock (or SD cards!) is something beyond precious. That beautiful moment when you can watch your favorite movie from the 1940’s and feel yourself being immersed into the wonderfulness of the acting, story and location. It’s priceless.

Though this viewing, I learned the difference between the different types of documentaries that exist as well as the basis of what type of documents I would need to obtain in order to, try, and give justice to the piece of history I would like to portray on screen.

P.S.- And I also learn that I rant too much. I am sorry.

Here is an interview with director Spike Lee talking about his documentary film.

Slumdog Millionaire: Screening

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Hello!

Today we saw the Oscar award-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”. I have never seen it before, although I knew somewhat what it was about. And I have to say that the movie wasn’t as amazing, for me, as I was told it would be. It was an ok movie, which I think focused more on character development than actually being type cast as an action film. I guess it is a romance, due to the fact that the story revolves around this boy Jamal who is in live, since childhood, with Latika a girl from the slum as well. It follows his life story showing, for most of the film, flashbacks of everything that happen up until the point where we, the audience, catches up with the film’s reality. The other focal point of the film is the fact that Jamal upon entering the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” from Mumbai, he finds himself being the winner of the biggest amount ever in his country which gets him into serious trouble. He ends up being repeatedly tortured because the game makers can’t, or don’t, want to believe that he actually won the game fair and square, which eventually propels the story forward as he retells his life story to one of the police officers who interrogate him. This is the basis of the story, which obviously secondary characters who only serve to enhance the story with different plots and actually make the life of the protagonist quite difficult, if I am to be honest. Overall it was an average movie for me, and not one I think deserved as much recognition as the one it had.