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Conflating "story" or "storytelling" with filmmaking


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#61 Carl Looper

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 06:32 PM

The difficulty we will have, of course, is simply that we're writing about something that words are not able to completely clarify. And trying to use words to do that!

 

What if we entirely agree that the cinematography (etc) should be in allegiance to this "film as a whole", surely we can use the word 'story' to mean the same thing. While the script might not tell us the story of how the Imperial Star Destroyer enters frame from above, we've nevertheless just referred to this particular detail as a story.

 

In what way then, might the truism not also mean this understanding of story?

 

What will determine the answer here is not the truism, or any particular take on such, but the context in which the truism is trotted out. It is the context that will determine what is being meant by 'story' in this regard.

 

One way of determining such is to ask under what conditions the truism is trotted out? Against what supposed misconception is the truism being deployed? What are the specifics of the discussion in which this supposed donald card might be played? It will be in these details where the meaning of 'story' will be clarified to the extent it is. And I'd suggest that by 'story' is meant that which a script otherwise tells - that this story is typically the one intended. For example, the story the script for Star Wars tells.

 

If a giant spacecraft hurtles into frame, above the audience, this will be just one of any other way of expressing the same story as told by the script. The particular solution adopted can be regarded as arbitrary in this way. What will be deemed important is the extent to which the shots serve (or express) the story of a tiny spacecraft, pursued by a giant Imperial Star Destroyer.

 

But this is to suggest there could have been another way of making this particular film, be it for better or worse. And we might suggest this is the particular hole into which Lucas descended.

 

An alternative to this, and one I'd advocate is where one already knows, in a vague or quite clear way, what is going to occupy the screen in terms of images and sounds. One might speak of some giant spacecraft hurtling through space in perspective, like the way the spaceship Discovery in 2001 did, but in a fast paced, more adrenalin pumping way - chasing a tiny spacecraft - but with the same authentic space lighting that 2001 employed ... etc.

 

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And towards such an end we will need a story to structure this.

 

Now this completely oversimplifies it (and merely reverses the problem into the opposite problem) but it's to provide an indication of how story and means are not necessarily cause and effect, and that there is a bigger context in which all of these elements, including story, can be regarded as composed. For the purposes of creation one decomposes each of these elements. They remain interconnected (or intertwined), but each with a different emphasis. Each component is effectively a different way of understanding the entire work, be it from the point of view of cinematography, or the point of view of sound, or that of costume design, and so on. They are all like fragments of a hologram, each of which sees the entire picture, but from another point of view. And the story is just one of those fragments. The task of film making is akin to reassembling the hologram - to bring together all of these fragments. To reconstruct the whole.

 

Of course, in the beginning the whole is not in any way physically given (other than by reference to fragments of such, in historical precedents). It is imagined. Hallucinated. It is a precognition. It is that which a text might indicate, as will concept art, and storyboards, and so on. The work proper will be triangulated by each of these components. Brought into focus. Created in this way.

 

It is a myth, we might say, that one only tells the same story that the script tells.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 21 March 2016 - 06:41 PM.

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#62 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 07:00 PM

I suspect the story is the same, just the telling and sub text changes because it's now in an audio visual meduim. There can even be different versions in the scripting process depending on who the project is aimed at any particular stage (script readers or shooting) , although, it tends to be parred down leaving many details to be filled in by the director and their collaborators.


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#63 Carl Looper

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 07:26 PM

I suspect the story is the same, just the telling and sub text changes because it's now in an audio visual meduim. There can even be different versions in the scripting process depending on who the project is aimed at any particular stage (script readers or shooting) , although, it tends to be parred down leaving many details to be filled in by the director and their collaborators.

 

Yes, the story told by the script agrees (more or less) to the story told by the film. But the story told by the film is a much bigger story than that told by the script. It is not just a question of the filmmakers simply clarifying ambiguities in the script as if it were simply a multiple choice questionnaire, requiring little more than a tick in a box. Or just adding details - as if doing no more than putting burn marks on spaceship models. Or simply illustration. The filmmakers are not just creating an example of what the script might be indicating. They are creating the very thing that the script can only indicate. They are creating that which the script has otherwise left to the imagination. Indeed the art of script writing is often to leave as much as possible to the imagination - to give the film makers room to be creative rather than simply visualisers. It is avoid reducing them to merely ticking boxes on a limited number of choices. The film makers create this bigger story. Indeed the story the script tells can very well be an abbreviation of an already understood bigger story. It becomes shorthand for what has been otherwise understood as this bigger story. If the script is left somewhat ambiguous it is so it doesn't contradict the evolving clarification of this bigger story.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 21 March 2016 - 07:38 PM.

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#64 Carl Looper

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 07:49 PM

A good example of this is in Bridge of Spies.

 

Tom Hanks will suggest, for a scene in which his character is looking out the window of a train, at the end of the film, that what his character sees there, are young kids, leaping over backyard fences, expressing the joys and freedom of youth and creating a poignant counterpoint to his experiences in Berlin.

 

This is not in the script but it's one of those things that film makers do when making a film. They make something much more than just what the script suggests they make. They love this sort of thing. They live for it. To make a film (movie, work of cinema) - not just an "audio-visualisation" of a script.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 21 March 2016 - 08:02 PM.

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#65 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 02:47 AM

 

The filmmakers are not just creating an example of what the script might be indicating. They are creating the very thing that the script can only indicate. They are creating that which the script has otherwise left to the imagination. Indeed the art of script writing is often to leave as much as possible to the imagination - to give the film makers room to be creative rather than simply visualisers. It is avoid reducing them to merely ticking boxes on a limited number of choices

 

Indeed, good direcctors will make the script their own, although circumstances may not allow much room to go much beyond the template. This commonly happens in tV series, which tend to be more writer or producer driven and the director is just the hired in help.

 

There is a process of rewriting the script as a film is being shot, filming is in effect a new draft of the script:, what works on the page may not work in reality, locations are different, the dialogie need to change to match the actors. The script can be underdeveloped and gone into prodiction. with flaws that need to be ironed out. Another "rewrite" will occur when the film goes into editing. However, unless there's a real problem, the central story itself usually remains the same, how it's been told may have changed; less dialogue more visuals. perhaps.

 

The script is the plan, but like an architect's drawings, changes can occur during the construction, although is is mostly the internal layout and details, rather than the fundamentals of the building.


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