Sunday, September 27, 2009

Get Emotional

Shawna posted something via Google Reader the other day regarding that 100 pages is the new '120 pages when it comes to screenwriting.

I'm glad to see that Hollywood is finally catching on. Those of us toiling in the bargain bin arena have held that 95-100 is the new black for a long time now. That particular page count usually yields a 90 minute movie before title crawls and opening graphic design animated title porn.

But what this new 100 pages isn't telling you is that you're required to do double-duty with the emotional content of your script. That is, characters' words must mean something when they speak, but they should also point to other possible meanings through the story. It adds another level of tension to an otherwise exciting story.

This is layering, and it's especially important in pulp stories where the plotline is straight as an arrow (until that point where it isn't) and you need that emotional, character-driven pepper to come through via the dialogue and actions.

I'm going through right now and marking up my own notes in FLY BY NIGHT as production starts designing the look above and beyond what I've outlined in the script. I've tagged a lot of areas in the PDF where I'm going to go back and rethink aspects of a line here and there , the true undercurrents to a scene...

Staying within that 100 pages, but sharpening the dialogue and the characters so we can make a 'narrative pipeline' look and feel as exciting as Monica Bellucci nude.

This sort of thing is going to be especially important as more and more movies are going to debut as webisodes first. Giving the scenes the emotional content that makes the audience go "damn"or "hmmm, what could that mean?" can keep them coming back to your show and even go back to the beginning of the series. Giving your story a once over for its emotional content also allows you to play with your characters in different ways - picking up the rock and looking at all of the creepy crawly things underneath.

Like I did here with Fascinax.

This story wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for me looking at the wonderful absurdity of a Victorian-styled superbeing and digging underneath to find out what's really going on there.

Dig into your character's emotions, and when you scratch something that hurts then you know you're on the right track and can add that next level of meaning to your work that makes it memorable - even when your writing craft isn't (yet) it's best.

1 comment:

Xander Bennett said...

I'm not sure, but could that have been my blog that was linked to?

I like your thoughts on the topic. 90 minutes is a very good length, especially for comedies and low-budget.