Thursday, November 13, 2008

On Writing Movies

I'm starting a new screenplay today, and I feel it's important to always be reading about writing while writing because it keeps you asking questions and evoking new thoughts about your approach and such. And today I was skimming through one of the David Mamet books on writing, and he said that viewers watch films wanting to know what's going to happen next, so any scenes that dwell on backstory exposition will slow your film down. And I agree with him for the most part. But what I think is more important to me as a director is that I want the audience to want to see my film more than once. And the key to that is performance and behavior. Once you've seen the plot in a film, the question of what's next goes away. So I sit on the side of the fence that believes that character is more important than plot. And character comes from interaction. Eye contact. Blocking. Unsaid magic. Those are the things that make me want to see films over and over. That, and of course the marriage of cinematography and music.

So my bottom line: plot is the least important element. And remember that story and plot are not the same thing.

2 Comments:

Blogger awintory said...

what was that about the music???

As a re-affirmation of what you said (plot is perhaps the least important element in a film), I think music can only serve the characters, but never really the plot (Except in superficial ways, such as using chinese instruments merely because it's set in China). In other words, the music can give insight into the character, but not insight into the plot.

Ironically, though, if the characters are expertly crafted then there's less the music needs to say, most likely. Hence why there's only 36 minutes of score in Abu Raed ...

5:43 PM  
Blogger katie said...

I couldn't agree more. As an English major, an avid reader, and a librarian, nothing pulls me in and keeps me interested in books or film as strongly as well-crafted characters.

Best of luck with your new screenplay!

10:19 AM  

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