Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scriptwriting class ~ Tidbit

We have only written two short scenes so far, but I can see how writing a complete screenplay is no easy task. It’s difficult enough to write one scene in five beats of action!

Last week our second scene assignment was to write a scene in five beats of action with characters this time, but no dialogue. The instructor suggested we go back to childhood or to someone else’s childhood. I searched my memory for a visual scene and I chose one. I tend to choose those that have feeling attached. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to move it with “action,” but I tried. This one had a similar mood about it, but how I wrote it was slightly different. I didn’t want to name the mother and daughter because it was my memory, but of course I must name the characters next time; and it seems I wrote it in a staccato fashion, at least that’s how it feels to me.

I won’t receive the instructor’s written comments until next week, but he and others definitely felt I needed character development. I didn’t have enough to show more about them.

The idea was to write a scene that could be filmed without dialogue, which I did not entirely realize to begin with—silly me, I know. Anyway, he said that he felt the scene had a European feel to it and that though dialogue would be helpful to this scene, he could see how with gestures, it could be filmed without dialogue.

I received a good amount of constructive feedback especially with regard to character development and needing more action. It’s a fun process. I seem to be able to create a sense of place from the feedback I received, now I have to work on the people that fill the space.

Here is my scene:


It’s raining hard. Mother is driving daughter to kindergarten. Daughter doesn’t want to go to school today and she tells her mom she’s not feeling well. They wait at the stop sign before they can turn right. There are houses on the streets, the elementary school is on the corner of the block.

Daughter is overly dressed in a pink and blue snow suit as if she’s ready to go to the snow. She sits in the front seat. Mother turns the car slowly from the stop sign to the street. The fog and rain make it difficult to see.

Driving slowly, the front of the school is to the right. There is a park to the left across the street. Daughter sees many school children getting out of cars, crossing in a frenzy, trying to get out of the rain. The sound of the windshield wipers seems to grow louder.

Mother looks briefly to daughter to see if she’s sure she doesn’t want to go to school today. Daughter is fixated on something. Mother continues driving at a slow pace. It is a sea of children darting in between cars. They both hear a thump and they see hands go up.

They sit there, it seems, motionless, only the sound of the windshield wipers, rain, and people crowding around the car. Time seems to have stopped. For a moment there is a deep hush.


Vincent said...

I can't see the European feel but then, I am not European, but English. (you thought england was part of Europe? No.) I've seen many Hollywood films with a mother taking child to school, and many in which a car accident brings about big changes in the characters' lives.

Apart from that, I can see how your entry can be the vehicle for an important learning experience in the craft of scriptwriting, especially because of its simplicity and the elemental emotions involved.

To me, it looks like a prepared canvas, ready for Rebb the artist to communicate to her audience whatever she wants.

Rebb said...

Yes, you have a very English feel about you, Vincent :) No doubt about that.

I think the instructor sees things very much with a director’s hat. He tries to see what can and cannot be shown or how to get around the actual writing of it and overall how he sees something translated to the screen. I think he picked up the mood of it. It’s so fascinating though, to imagine the process that a director goes though when he or she brings words from a page to life and why exactly some films simply flop when the idea seemed a good one.

Thank you for seeing a prepared canvas, ready for something.