Thursday, April 28, 2005

[Script] Scripts are emotion

A lot of money gets spent on famous actors and CG. Flashy things are supposed to keep our interest, our eyes glued to the screen (a pretty disgusting visual now I think about it). However, with a no-budget movie or Season 1 of a normal budget TV series, there’ll be no cash to spend on those things. In this case, emotions are your special effect.

Emotions can grip the audience. They can be complex and spectacular. You can find emotions that haven’t been tackled before. Best of all, they are cheap. And if they’re cool enough, maybe you’ll attract the funding to get those famous actors and flashy CG effects.

Some random thoughts on emotion

The first principle in the first book on screenwriting I ever read was that the primary goal of any screenplay is to elicit emotion from the audience.[1]

Scripts deal in emotions and motivations. As script-writers, those are our 2 basic tools. We can make characters behave in plausible and fascinating ways.
We can aim to make the reader (and hopefully the eventual viewer) feel a certain way.

An well-drawn action setpiece can illustrate these 2 things working together just as effectively as a moving on-screen declaration of love.

James Cameron says, “Audiences don’t think in scenes. They think in a continuously dynamic and evolving force field of emotions and ideas.” Sometimes when I’m considering the overall script, I don’t think in terms of plot or character; I just go through it feeling what the audience will feel at every stage. Then I ask myself, “Is this a good journey to go on?”

“Do we buy it?” was a question often asked in the latter stages of writing lovebites. Do we believe in what we’re reading. Maybe you don’t buy it because the script hasn’t made you care enough … or maybe you don’t buy it because you care so much that you think what the character’s doing is (a) wrong, (b) against type or (c) just something you don’t want to see them do …

I think it’s important to know the emotion you’re trying to produce with each scene. That’ll go on the checklist.

1 comment:

hix said...

[1] ‘Writing Screenplays that Sell’ by Robert Hauge.