Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Story Ch 19: The Text

Dialogue is not conversation.

Screen dialogue must have the swing of everyday talk but content well above normal.

Screen dialogue needs
  1. Compression & economy
  2. Direction (turn or burn)
  3. Purpose
"Speak as common people do, but think as wise men do." Aristotle

The playwright may spin elaborate and ornate dialogue, but not the screenwriter.

The moment you think you've written something that's particularly fine and literary - cut it.

Stikomythia = rapid exchange of short speeches

Problems with long speeches
  • visually boring - the actor's face, or
  • cut to listening face, speaker needs to over articulate because audiences lip read.
Life is not a monologue - it is action/reaction, including reacting to yourself.

Suspense sentence or periodic sentence - the really important part of a sentence is at the end - the meaning.

Silent screenplay
Best advice for writing dialogue is don't. Never write a line of dialogue when you can create a visual expression.

Lean dialogue, in relief against what's primarily visual, has salience and power.

"When the screenplay has been written and the dialogue has been added, we're ready to shoot."
Alfred Hitchcock

"What do I see on the screen?"
An absolute present tense in constant vivid movement.

Specific names. Avoid generic nouns and verbs with adjectives and adverbs.

Specific verbs
No "Is" no "are" ... active voice, even for inanimate objects.
The most specific, active verbs and concrete nouns possible.

Naughty words
as if
we see
we hear

instead use

on scene

Image systems
The screenwriter as poet.

Poetic means enhanced expressivity. Everything means something.

An IMAGE SYSTEM is a strategy of motifs, a category of imagery embedded in the film that repeats in sight and sound from beginning to end with persistence and great variation, but with equally great subtlety, as a subliminal communication to increase the depth and complexity of aesthetic emotion.

A film's poetics must go consciously unrecognised.

External imagery - a category that has symbolic meaning outside the world of the film.

Internal imagery - takes a category that may or may not have any symbolic meaning outside the film. Gives an entirely new meaning appropriate to this film alone.

Awareness of a symbol turns it into a neutral, intellectual curiosity, powerless and virtually meaningless.


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