1. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    Script Writing Question...How much can be left to the director?(and others)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Crimson Dragon, May 25, 2013.

    I recently saw a thread on here discussing a horror film and that reminded me of an old idea I had for a horror movie. I ultimatly abandoned that idea because I wanted to focus more on my traditional written works rather then ideas for films(since I have little experence with script writing) but the thread reminded me of how much I enjoyed the idea and also got me curious about something. My old idea was highly dependent on it's visuals for it's scare factor. Much of the "horror" came in the form of disturbing visions and nightmares the protagonist had, and whenever you are dealing with visions and nightmares you are undouptly dealing with visuals. Now, film is the perfect medium for a visual-focused horror plot, but the question becomes how much of those visuals should be in the script or how much should be left up to the director? Is it alright to simply say that the main character has a nightmare and leave it up to the director to decide what that nightmare would look like or does a horror story that derives much of his scare factor from it's nightmare/vision sequences demand a script that actually gives those nightmares and visions some descriptions? If the latter, how much of a description is needed? How vauge can you make the description? Can you give the director, artists ect..a high degree of "creative freedom" or is a more concrete description needed when so much of the story's frights are dependent on these visuals?

    Just curious about all of this since I am not well-versed with script writing. So, anybody have something to say about this?
     
  2. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    you are really focusing on a filmography question to a forum of writers. while most of us would be more than happy to help with questions of plot,narrative,pace or adjective use. I do not think there will be many of us who could help you with the specific question you are asking. However, I will try.
    If your nightmares are important to understanding the narrative, have him/her show you what they have in mind and see if it tells the story good enough. aside from that, most people are desensitized to visual nightmares. films such as "saw" were actually psych thrillers using visual cues as puppets. think of this, does the CONCEPT of the story provoke fear? if yes, the visuals will just be icing on the cake.
    if no,I would go back to the drawing board a good example would be a movie called "phone booth". its premise was scary enough without a lot of visual cues. again I have no filming expertise and this is all logical conclusion on my part. I do hope you find what you are needing.
     
  3. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Describe what is important to the plot. Simple perhaps but a good rule. Sometimes be specific. Other times you can be vague.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i ghostwrite and revise movie scripts for clients and i mentor many aspiring screenwriters, so i can answer your questions from 'the inside'...

    first of all, you have to understand that a new and unknown writer will be writing 'spec' scripts, so the rule there is to keep it 'lean and clean' while the pros can be as 'fat and dirty' as they want and get away with it... so, when studying the scripts available online [which every newbie must do], it's important to be aware of the fact that none of them will be 'spec' scripts... all you'll find are shooting, director's scripts, various screewriter's drafts from early to final, and transcripts [which should never even be looked at, since they're useless]... this means you'll be seeing stuff like scene numbering, camera and editing direction, and all kinds of other verboten detail that you can NOT put in a spec script...

    so, to the question... you should include only those details that are vital to the plot and/or to let the set and costume designers, casting director and cinematographer know what is absolutely necessary... and leave all else up to the director, the actors and the other pros who get paid the big bucks...

    one of the main reasons for this is the space constraint of having only 110 pages to lay out the blueprint for an entire movie...

    of course you must tell what happens in the nightmare and provide a general description of the characters in it and where it takes place, but should leave as much of the detail as possible to the director ... for instance, you can say, 'A menacing fog swirls around Jimmy.' and let the director and the techs decide how it will actually look... you should not go into page-space-wasting detail that isn't needed...

    an example of 'too much' would be 'A thick, purple-hued fog spiraled around Jimmy, made its way up from his feet to his head and then zoomed off to the right.'

    see above...

    not only 'can' but 'must'... that's why directors and actors get paid more than writers... do NOT tell the director how to direct, or the actors how to act... keep wrylies down to a minimum and use them only when how to deliver the lines can't be ascertained by the dialog itself...

    hope this answers your questions satisfactorily... if you have any more, or need any help, feel free to email me... i'm always only a mouse-click away...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Writers don't just write novels. There are several screenwriters on this site, including me.
     
  6. Sam M
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    Sam M Member

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    Be clear and concise, and say what you need to say. And be confident with your writing. There aren't really as much 'rules' in the industry as maia is insinuating. Very few in fact.
     
  7. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with much of what mammamaia has said. It's not your job to worry about how it will look. The director will interpret the script in their own way, keeping any potential constraints (e.g. budget/timing/location/weather) in mind. Give the necessary details and move on.

    For the record, I both write scripts and direct videos (fic, non-fic, promo/ads, etc).
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    which ones are you questioning, sam?

    as i stated, the ones i mention apply to unknown newbies who are writing on spec, not to the pros... so which ones do you really think a new writer can get away with breaking, in a spec script?
     

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