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#1 James Burnham

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 08:29 PM

1. I am trying to figure out what something is called so I can start researching it. My best guess would be "computer animation" but I'm not sure. Examples are "Sin City" "Stewart Little" "Watchman" "300" etc. It is not cartoon animation, and it is not "real." But, it leans toward the "real" side, allowing you to do what really can't be done with actors, animals, sets, etc.

Is there an industry term of art for what I am describing?

2. I once read a magazine article/interview(s) with different celebrities, one of which was Ben Afleck (sp?). They described their favorite books. He described a book on how to write books or screen plays, and what *not* to do (preach, etc.). I'd like to find that book and read it. Does it sound familiar?

3. I want to create a "short" (15 minutes?) using the format referenced in #1, above. It will be 100% narration (a sin, I know) that tracks the visual action. How would a person write a screen play for something like that? I have the narration already. It's a poem. I just want to put a visual to it.

4. The short will be followed by a full length Epic/Myth/Picaresque in regular live actor/set filming which plays off the short. That screen play is still an infantile work in progress.

Thanks in advance for any help you might provide.
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#2 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 09:11 PM

1. I am trying to figure out what something is called so I can start researching it. My best guess would be "computer animation" but I'm not sure. Examples are "Sin City" "Stewart Little" "Watchman" "300" etc. It is not cartoon animation, and it is not "real." But, it leans toward the "real" side, allowing you to do what really can't be done with actors, animals, sets, etc.

Is there an industry term of art for what I am describing?

CGI - Computer Generated Images.

2. I once read a magazine article/interview(s) with different celebrities, one of which was Ben Afleck (sp?). They described their favorite books. He described a book on how to write books or screen plays, and what *not* to do (preach, etc.). I'd like to find that book and read it. Does it sound familiar?

Sounds like any one of a couple of dozen books to me.

3. I want to create a "short" (15 minutes?) using the format referenced in #1, above. It will be 100% narration (a sin, I know) that tracks the visual action. How would a person write a screen play for something like that? I have the narration already. It's a poem. I just want to put a visual to it.


Well, I do hope you aren't in a hurry to get this done. It sounds to me like you need to learn A LOT before you even begin thinking about writing the script. Take some courses on screenwriting and the basics of filmmaking. Spend the next two years or so learning. THEN you will be ready to start planning and writing your film.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 10:09 PM

1. I am trying to figure out what something is called so I can start researching it. My best guess would be "computer animation" but I'm not sure. Examples are "Sin City" "Stewart Little" "Watchman" "300" etc. It is not cartoon animation, and it is not "real." But, it leans toward the "real" side, allowing you to do what really can't be done with actors, animals, sets, etc.

Is there an industry term of art for what I am describing?


As stated above, CGI or Computer Generated Graphics. Also known as Visual Effects. In most cases, you will shoot real Actors on real sets or on complete green-screen backgrounds which are later replaced with fully digital renderings of backgrounds. The upcoming Zemeckis film, A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey is an example of this.


2. I once read a magazine article/interview(s) with different celebrities, one of which was Ben Afleck (sp?). They described their favorite books. He described a book on how to write books or screen plays, and what *not* to do (preach, etc.). I'd like to find that book and read it. Does it sound familiar?


I don't know which book Mr. Affleck was referring to, but there are a lot of books out there, some better than others. My personal favorite is Film Scriptwriting, Second Edition: A Practical Manual by Dwight V Swain (Author), JOYE R SWAIN (Author) http://www.amazon.co...l_top_3_rdssss0 . There are some more "popular" books often talked about, but none come close to this one for helping first time Writers.

I also HIGHLY suggest you read every page of http://www.wordplayer.com. Probably the best resource for Screenwriters I've found yet.

Look for more books and websites that could help guide you at:
http://realfilmcaree....php?topic=12.0



3. I want to create a "short" (15 minutes?) using the format referenced in #1, above. It will be 100% narration (a sin, I know) that tracks the visual action. How would a person write a screen play for something like that? I have the narration already. It's a poem. I just want to put a visual to it.


First, your comment about narration being a sin. The most successful movies are usually those that break the mold. There is no guarantee that what you create will do that, but by feeling that what you're doing is somehow "wrong" only dooms you to failure before you've even started. To complete any movie, particularly one with the elements that you're describing, will take a belief on your part that what you're doing IS the right thing and you have to stay passionate through it all.

As far as how to write a screenplay for your concept, the key is to write it in a way that YOU understand. There is a definite format for the professional narrative world when Screenwriters submit their work to Agents and Producers and whoever else they can convince to read it. But since you're doing this for yourself, what matters most is that you write it in a way that you can understand it and work with it. Having said that, you might do well to create fairly detailed storyboards for each sequence of your film, being this is a visual representation of a Voice Over instead of being a narrative with Actors speaking dialogue. Once you have your poem complete, start drawing or ask an "artist" to help you put the visuals you have in mind down on paper. From there, you can actually SEE what it is you need and begin to talk with a Cameraman and a Visual Effects Supervisor to determine the ideal ways to accomplish the shots.

It's just a step-by-step process... take it one thing at a time and do everything you can to enlist the help of experienced "technicians" who will help you to create a quality project that they can use to advance their own careers too.


4. The short will be followed by a full length Epic/Myth/Picaresque in regular live actor/set filming which plays off the short. That screen play is still an infantile work in progress.

Thanks in advance for any help you might provide.


Aim high, that's good. If you aim for the middle, you'll almost always get it. But, concentrate on one thing at a time. The short is first up. Do it as a short, not as a shorter version of the feature. Make the short as well as possible and the feature will work itself out when the time comes. So, start with the screenplay. Read that book above if you need some guidance, but otherwise, try not to get hung up on the process too much. Just get it done. Don't worry if it's not perfect. It can and will change throughout the entire process.

Then, "hire" a Storyboard Artist to help you get the visuals in your head down on paper. This helps you see the movie and it will help others understand what it is you have in mind. Then, "hire" a Cameraman and a Visual FX expert. You need to discuss how best to do every shot. Some VFX techniques will work for some shots while some others will be more appropriate for others. The Cameraman needs to know so he can plan his equipment and personnel accordingly. As these technical details are worked out, a realistic idea of a schedule will arise. Having an Assistant Director to help map this schedule out will be helpful. Around this time you'll also be thinking about locations suitable for shooting under the parameters the DP and VFX Supervisor are suggesting. A Locations Scout/Manager will help you find those locations and a Producer will help figure out if they are affordable and practical to shoot in.

At some point, you'll likely want to shoot and "produce" a test for the look and workflow. You want to know if the look that pops out the backside is what you really want. Finding that out before you commit to going into production will save some potential disappointment later on.


Good luck!
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#4 James Burnham

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:14 PM

Thank you both for responding.

You are very encouraging Mr. Dzyak. I really like the idea of the poem/short story boards as the next step. I'm dying to get a visual out of my head where I can see it. Just the act of talking it through with an artist, and forcing the articulation beyond the poem itself, will do wonders for me. The short will be a stand-alone story, but it is somewhat of a "tease," begging more. It will serve as a home to which I can return, if and when I start to drift too far on the larger, secondary project.

I'll start looking for some talent at the local high schools, community colleges and universities. I will also follow up on your recommended reading. Thanks again.
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